Disruptive demonstrations in the spotlight in new legal probe

Photo: Marten van Dijl / Greenpeace Nederland

The Dutch government has commissioned research into the right to demonstrate following a string of protests in which campaigners deliberately break the law, home affairs minister Hugo de Jonge confirmed on Friday.

The research will focus on whether there should be more legal options to tackle demonstrations which include highway and airport occupations, intimidation at abortion clinics and politicians’ homes, and Koran burnings.

The probe is in response to a string of MP’s questions about recent demonstrations, including Extinction Rebellion‘s motorway blockades, the dumping of manure and fire setting by protesting farmers, and the disruption of the opening of the Holocaust Museum by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

“The right to demonstrate is as strong as ever,” De Jonge said. “But some protests seem to be undermining support for this so incredibly important right. The right of people who demonstrate always seems to take precedence over the rights of other people.”

The inquiry will also focus on how other countries deal with such demonstrations and look at the impact on national security. This is particularly an issue in the case of Koran burnings, the ministry said.

“Freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate are important fundamental rights and fully backed by the cabinet,” said justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz. But while the vast majority of demonstrations pass off peacefully “we are increasingly witnessing protests which go up to and beyond legal protest.”

Officials have already introduced tighter security for the May 4 Remembrance Day commemorations in central Amsterdam because of concerns they could be disrupted by protests.

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation