UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Netherlands (CERD 24-09-2015)

The Committee considered the combined nineteenth to twenty-first periodic reports of the Netherlands (CERD/C/NLD/19-21), submitted in one document, at its 2375th and 2376th meetings (see CERD/C/SR.2375 and 2376), held on 18 and 19 August 2015. At its 2386th, 2387th and 2388th meetings, held on 26 and 27 August 2015, it adopted the following concluding observations.

Concluding observations

C. Concerns and recommendations

Reporting of cases of racial discrimination and prosecution of perpetrators

  1. The Committee notes with concern that acts of racial discrimination are underreported and that perpetrators are underprosecuted. In particular, it is concerned about the limited number of complaints registered by the police, the limited number of complaints investigated by prosecutors and submitted to the courts, and the reported reluctance of victims to lodge complaints out of fear of social censure, lack of trust in the authorities and lack of awareness of available remedies. The Committee notes with concern that this phenomenon seems to be connected, inter alia, to the frequent downplaying and insufficient understanding of the existence and manifestations of racism and racist practices within society (arts. 2, 6 and 7).
  2. Recalling its general recommendation No. 31 (2005) on the prevention of racial discrimination in the administration and functioning of the criminal justice system, the Committee recommends that the State party remind members of the police, public prosecutors and members of the prosecution service of the general importance of prosecuting acts of racial discrimination, in particular offences committed with racial motives. The Committee also recommends that the State party:

(a) Ensure that available remedies and services to access them and to seek support are sufficiently known to the public, in particular to minority groups, asylum seekers and refugees residing in reception facilities, and inform the public in an understandable way about such remedies and services;

(b) Increase efforts to raise public awareness and knowledge about racial discrimination faced by ethnic minority groups, as well as about the double or multiple discrimination faced by persons professing a particular religion, women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and on how to recognize and react to discriminatory practices;

(c) Promote critical thinking among school children and young people and equip them with the skills necessary to become aware of and respond to stereotypes and discriminatory and intolerant behaviour.

Asylum seekers and refugees

  1. The Committee is concerned about the situation of asylum seekers in the State party, including the increase in hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers among the population and opposition to the opening of new reception centres. In particular, the Committee is concerned about:

(a) Lengthy immigration detention, poor living conditions in immigration detention centres and detainees being subjected to the same security measures and disciplinary punishments as convicted criminals;

(b) Domestic violence not being recognized as a ground for asylum;

(c) The disappearance of a relatively high number of unaccompanied children from the large-scale reception facilities, who might have become victims of human trafficking;

(d) Reports of cases of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic behaviour by employees at asylum facilities, as well as questioning by civil servants about sexual acts, and harassment by fellow detainees;

(e) Reports of cases of refoulement of asylum seekers fearing persecution because of their sexual orientation (arts. 2, 3 and 5).

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party develop public education programmes and promote positive images of ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and migrants, and develop awareness-raising campaigns to inform the public of the current and historical reasons for migration, such as armed conflict, as well as extreme poverty. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Review its detention regime for asylum seekers, with a view to finding alternatives to detention, and ensure that the detention of asylum seekers is used only as a measure of last resort and is limited by statute to the shortest time reasonably necessary, and that arbitrary detention is avoided;

(b) Ensure that these detainees are treated humanely and in conformity with international standards;

(c) Fully comply with the obligation of non-refoulement arising out of the international norms concerning refugees and human rights, including by recognizing domestic violence as a ground for asylum;

(d) Take measures of protection with regard to women, children, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons seeking asylum, because of their particular vulnerability, increase protection for unaccompanied children in reception facilities and thoroughly investigate the disappearance of unaccompanied children and search for and identify those children.

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