Sunday 12 July 2020

It must be easier to ban undemocratic groups, justice minister says

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Justice minister Sander Dekker submitted draft legislation to parliament on Friday which will make it easier to ban radical organisations which are undermining the rule of law.

‘Our democracy deserves protection,’ Dekker said. ‘We have to draw a clear line when our freedom is being abused to assault the rule of law and our democratic values.  We cannot allow ourselves to tolerate intolerance.’

The legislation also reduces the burden of proof on the public prosecution department which will simply have to show that the organisation is inciting hatred or violence, or forms a threat to national security. If the organisation concerned cannot prove otherwise, then it can be ruled illegal.

At the same time, the maximum sentence for membership of a radical organisation will be doubled to two years and measures will be taken to stop activists restarting their campaigns under another name.

Amnesty International and the Council for the Judiciary are among the organisations which have looked at the draft legislation prior to its publication and made recommendations to the minister.

Amnesty in particular has warned that in countries such as China and Turkey, governments are quick to ban organisations they don’t like as a risk to public security, and pointed out that the rules could be used to undermine freedom of association and freedom of expression.

MPs will look at the plans next year.

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