Sunday 05 July 2020

The right to demonstrate is under threat, warns Dutch ombudsman

Photo: Facebook AZC Alert Enschede

The national ombudsman has warned Dutch local authorities and the police to stop placing so many restrictions on demonstrations, stating that the right to demonstrate in the Netherlands is coming under increasing pressure.

‘The authorities have a tendency to avoid risks,’ Reinier van Zutphen said in a new report which points out the right to demonstrate is enshrined in both the Dutch constitution and human rights treaties.

Police and local authorities often have to tread a fine line between the right to demonstrate and maintaining public order but in essence, the constitutional right to demonstrate should have priority, Van Zutphen said.

Examples of demonstrations which were banned or went wrong include a march by the far-right Pegida movement in Groningen and the anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrations in Maasluis in 2016 and in Dokkum last year.

‘The authorities should do its very best to facilitate and protect demonstrations, so that the man in the street can make his views clear – however unpopular they may be,’ Van Zutphen said.

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