Round Table “Combating racial discrimination and intolerance in the Netherlands”
The Hague, 30 June 2014
Organisers: ECRI in co-operation with the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights
Objectives: provide the participants with the opportunity to discuss the follow-up to the recommendations contained in ECRI’s monitoring report on the Netherlands, published in 2013.
The round table was divided into four sessions:
- ECRI report’s main findings
- Preventing racism and intolerance: the role of the national and local authorities
- Combating hate speech and intolerance
- Fostering integration of vulnerable groups
Opening statements were made by Ronald Plasterk, Minister of Interior Affairs, Barbara John, ECRI’s Vice-Chair, and Laurien Koster, Chair of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights. ECRI’s report on the Netherlands was presented by Siniša Bjeković, Rovshan Ismayilov and Baldur Kristjánsson, ECRI members.
In addition to national and local authorities, the round table brought together representatives of the judiciary and the media, international organisations and NGOs, as well as members of vulnerable groups. This event aimed at contributing positively to the national debate on combating racial discrimination and intolerance in the country, as well as raising awareness among the general public about these issues.
In its fourth report on the Netherlands of June 2013, ECRI noted a number of steps forward but expressed concern about other issues, such as the cutting of funds for various anti-discrimination structures, changing attitudes to integration and the cost of residence permits. Moreover, it was reported that certain politicians and media often portray Islam and Muslims, as well as the arrival of Eastern Europeans, as a threat to Dutch society. The criminal-law response to some of these statements has been criticised.