European rights court faults Dutch for 2011 squat arrests

The protest in 2011. Photo: Amaury Miller ANP

The European Court of Human Rights sided with a group of squatters and their supporters on Tuesday, finding against the Dutch Supreme Court for considering their 2011 protest illegal.

Five of the 143 people arrested at a squat on the Passeerdersgracht in Amsterdam in July 12 years ago had complained to the Strasbourg-based body after the Dutch Supreme Court upheld their convictions on public order offences and for failing to follow police instructions.

“We are very happy with this outcome,” the group’s lawyer Willem Jebbink told Dutch News.

An art collective known as Schijnheilig (hypocritical) had occupied the former school building in the city centre for several years before being ordered to vacate, one year after squatting was made illegal. The building belonged to the Dutch state and is now part of Amsterdam’s IC HBO college.

Hundreds of people wearing wedding dresses and playing instruments turned up to block the early morning police raid. Nearly 150 were arrested, including two journalists from Vice.

Amsterdam’s district court initially dismissed the charges, but the group lost after prosecutors appealed. The Supreme Court ultimately concluded that because they intended to block a lawful eviction, the protest wasn’t legal.

The case will now return to the Netherlands to be examined again by the Dutch Supreme Court.

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