Dutch court imposes ban on Bandidos motorbike gang, could disrupt society

Club president Harrie Ramakers in 2016. Photo Roger Dohmen / HH

Judges in Utrecht have banned the motorcycle club Bandidos with immediate effect in order to ‘halt behaviour which could disrupt society’.

The public prosecution department had called for a ban, arguing the club is associated with drugs, prostitution and weapons trading, and celebrates violence. The department asked the court to ban the organisation in the Netherlands and abroad.

Describing the organisation as ‘a serious threat to the general public and to public order,’ the court said that freedom of speech and freedom to attend gatherings are fundamental to the rule of law and a ban ‘is a serious infringement of the constitution.’

This can only be contravened in extremely exceptional circumstances, the ruling stated.

However the motorbike gang presents itself as an organisation with a culture of lawlessness and is focused on supporting and committing violent acts – as illustrated by the tradition of awarding patches to members involved in violence, the court said.

The group’s lawyer Marnix van der Werf said he would appeal against the ruling and said the judges had made ‘strange choices’ by banning the organisation world wide. ‘We can show they are all separate associations,’ Van der Werf said.

The motorbike club has only been active in the Netherlands for three years and its primary Dutch base is in Sittard. Officials say the the arrival of the Bandidos in the Netherlands in 2014 has led to an increase in violent attacks, fights and shooting incidents, particularly in Brabant.

The public prosecution department also wants the No Surrender and Satudarah biker clubs to be banned. Efforts to have the Hells Angels ruled illegal were squashed earlier by the Supreme Court.