Sunday 28 November 2021

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.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.