Society

More reports against discrimination in the Netherlands for the 3rd consecutive year

The Netherlands recorded more reports of discrimination in 2021, a third consecutive year of increase, mainly due to people who felt discriminated because of health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

People wearing facemasks against COVID-19 in the Netherlands
People wearing face masks against COVID-19 in the Netherlands | Ewien van Bergeijk - Kwant

Police stations and anti-discrimination facilities in the Netherlands received more reports of discrimination incidents for the third consecutive year in 2021, according the ministry of Interior which released the statistics on discrimination reports on May 24.

Police recorded 6,580 events reported as discriminatory in 2021, up by 7% compared to 2020, and anti-discrimination facilities received 6,922 complaints, a 26% growth on a year.

The National Ombudsman and the Institute for Human Rights also received more reports and requests. The 4,098 reports against discrimination signaled in 2020 for a satirical song Voorkomen is beter dan Chinezen (Prevention is better than the Chinese) aired on Radio 10, one of the historical radio stations in the Netherlands, have been removed to the comparisons.

The reasons for this increase is mainly explained by "people who felt excluded" by restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the ministry. Face mask mandates and the coronavirus entry pass for public places were particularly the subject of complaints. People wouldn't follow the rules by conviction, and in smaller proportions because of medical conditions.

From September 2021, people needed to be vaccinated, have a negative test or a certificate of recovery to get the corona pass, which spurred a rise in complaints. Sanitary restrictions implemented by the authorities sometimes led to violent protests and riots in the Netherlands. Dutch justice in October ruled that the corona pass didn't violate anti-discrimination laws.

"A large and diverse group of Dutch people have experienced that they are excluded or treated unequally because they do not want or cannot comply with the corona measures. Many people reported to anti-discrimination facilities who were angry and hurt by this," said Stefano Frans, chairman of the website Discriminatie.nl where people can report discrimination and receive advice.

As a consequence, people who felt discriminated in 2021 mostly happened in public places (28%) like in hospitals or administrative buildings. Workplace is the second location where discrimination was reported in 2021, while it was the first one in previous years.

Overall, reports of discrimination on the grounds of origin are recorded the most in both anti-discrimination facilities (34%) and police stations (42%). But the number of reports decreased compared to the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 and its aftermath.

Last September, Dutch justice considered police using ethnicity as a reason for immigration controls was not discriminatory.

In police stations, the second reason of discrimination reports is about someone's sexual orientation (32%). Cases of antisemitism also increased but it remained lower than two years before. Almost one in three reports had non-statutory grounds, which included many of the complaints about COVID-19-related regulation.

Events reported as discrimination to the police consisted of statements like insults in 62% of cases. Violence and statements were associated in 11% of the events, and threats account for another 11% of them.

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