The Dutch government should actively work to change the features of Sinterklaas’ helper Zwarte Piet which reflect negative stereotypes, according to a UN committee.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination says in a new report on the Netherlands that even a ‘deeply rooted cultural tradition does not justify discriminatory practices and stereotypes’.
For this reason, the state should work to promote the ‘elimination of those features of Black Pete which reflect negative stereotypes and are experienced by many people of African descent as a vestige of slavery’, the report says.
The committee also urged the Dutch government to make sure that attacks on anti-Zwarte Piet protesters be effectively investigated and prosecuted.
The Zwarte Piet issue was a small part of the report on the Netherlands which is produced every five years and looks at racism and discrimination in general.
The report called for the establishment of a national action plan to combat racism and discrimination and said measures should be taken to stop racist chanting at football matches. Efforts are also needed to stop the police discriminating when using stop and search procedures, the report said.
In addition, the report singled out incidences of racist and xenophobic hate speech from extremist political parties and politicians. The committee is ‘particularly concerned about the sharp increase in discrimination against members of Jewish and Muslim communities’, the report said.
Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam PVV, is facing charges of discrimination and racial abuse for leading his supporters in an anti-Moroccan chant during last year’s local elections.
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