Human Rights in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a modern nation located in Western Europe, between Belgium and Germany. The nation is home to more than 17 million people; three-fourths of them are Dutch. Over the years, the nation has proven itself to be a world leader by becoming a founding member of NATO and what is now the European Union. An area in which the Netherlands needs to improve, however, is its protection of human rights. While there are measures in place to protect human rights in the Netherlands, significant room for improvement remains.

According to the 2015 United States Department of State’s report on human rights in the Netherlands, there are several aspects concerning the protection of those rights that are particularly weak in the country. There has been widespread hostility and unfair treatment toward certain religious and ethnic groups; Muslim immigrants and Jewish people in particular have been afflicted. In an effort to quell the discrimination, 200 Jews and Muslims marched from a synagogue to a mosque in an effort to demonstrate solidarity. It is important to consider that the constitution forbids discrimination based on religion and that it is a crime under the law to publicly say things that promote hatred of religious groups.

Another human rights issue in the Netherlands that needs to be addressed is overcrowding in certain prison and detention centers. The prison and detention centers in the Netherlands meet international standards for the most part, but overcrowding has been a problem in Sint Maarten as a result of prison renovations.

The Department of State’s report also noticed discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. However, this is one area in which the government is taking steps to combat discrimination. For instance, the law mandates that elementary and secondary schools address diversity and LGBTI issues as a method to alleviate the problem through education. Courts in the Netherlands even have the ability to provide higher penalties to perpetrators of violence against LGBTI persons who acted because of their bias against this community.

The Netherlands has made notable progress in protecting certain human rights, but hopefully they continue to make strides forward in order to improve on human rights in all areas.

Adam Braunstein