Saturday 03 December 2022

Right to demonstrate under threat in NL, Amnesty International says

Anti vaccine demonstrators in Amsterdam. Photo:

National and local government in the Netherlands is placing too many restrictions on demonstrations by emphasising public order issues, human rights group Amnesty International says in a new report.

The organisation says the right to demonstrate in the Netherlands is coming under pressure and this is worrying because demonstrating is ‘the oxygen of democracy’ and a way for people to express their concerns.

‘If you look at the social tensions surrounding major issues such as climate, housing, asylum, nitrogen, racism and discrimination, it is very important to ensure that everyone who wants to demonstrate peacefully has plenty of room to do so, regardless of their point of view,’ said Dagmar Oudshoorn, director of Amnesty International Netherlands.

‘Demonstrating is not a favour, but a right,’ Oudshoorn said.

Votes for women, the eight-hour working day, gay marriage and the Dutch bicycle path network have been partially realised thanks to the right to demonstrate, the organisation said.

Nevertheless, local mayors increasingly see demonstrations as a threat to public order rather than a human right, even though most pass off without problems.

Demonstrations should only be restricted if there is a real threat to national or public safety or if the health or freedom of others is under threat, the organisation said.

Some 54% of the population believe demonstrations are needed to force social change and 72% believe everyone should be allowed to demonstrate for or against an issue, according to research by I&O carried out on the organisation’s behalf.

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