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TITLE:  NETHERLANDS HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                        
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994

                      THE NETHERLANDS

The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy with a 
parliamentary legislative system.  Executive authority is 
exercised by the Prime Minister and Cabinet representing the 
governing political parties (traditionally a coalition of at 
least two major parties).  The bicameral Parliament is elected 
through nationwide proportional voting.  The police, Royal 
Constabulary, and investigative organs concerned with internal 
and external security are effectively subordinated to the 
executive and judicial authorities.

The Netherlands has an economy which is based on private 
enterprise but which also has extensive involvement by 
governmental entities.  A complex social welfare system 
provides a high level of social benefits.

The Netherlands attaches great importance to human rights.  
Individual rights are protected by Dutch law and are widely 
respected in practice by both the State and the general 
public.  The press, public interest groups, and domestic and 
international human rights organizations are quick to challenge 
practices which they believe violate established human rights 
norms.  Any complaints are thoroughly discussed by the media 
and in Parliament and are often subjected to a judicial process.

There are no significant differences in human rights practices 
between The Netherlands proper and the autonomous regions of 
the Kingdom, i.e., Aruba and the five islands of the 
Netherlands Antilles.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

No politically motivated killings by the Government or domestic 
political groups are known to have occurred.

     b.  Disappearance

No known abductions, secret arrests, or clandestine detention 
by police or other official security forces took place.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Torture and cruel or inhuman punishment are prohibited by law 
and were not known to occur in The Netherlands proper.  An 
impartial Netherlands Antilles Commission of Inquiry 
constituted to investigate the claims of police brutality in 
1991 and previous years concluded in September 1992, after 
extensive investigation, that the charges were 
unsubstantiated.  However, according to Amnesty International, 
the Commission in August 1992 reported that "it found evidence 
of unlawful use of violence by the police on every island but 
Saba.  The violence consisted of beatings with truncheons and, 
occasionally, fists."  Further, "the Commission stated that 
neither disciplinary nor criminal action had been taken in 
obvious cases of serious police violence."  Complaints about 
prison conditions on Curacao and St. Maarten in 1993, including 
allegations of beatings, lack of access to medical personnel 
and overcrowding, have prompted an ongoing official 
investigation by the public prosecutor's office.

In 1992, at the instigation of the Dutch Government, the 
Government of the Netherlands Antilles established The Roemer 
Commission to look into reports of police brutalities in the 
Antilles and Aruba, and the structure of the police environment 
there.  Subsequently, and in cooperation with the Governments 
of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, the Dutch Government 
encouraged the initiation of training courses for Antillean and 
Aruban police designed in part to prevent any future 
mishandling of prisoners.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Freedom from arbitrary arrest is provided for by law and 
respected in practice.  Preventive detention is permitted only 
in an emergency declared by national or municipal authorities, 
and even then the detention may be for only a limited time.  
Under normal circumstances a suspect may be held for no longer 
than 6 hours (or 9 hours if arrested at night) before charges 
must be brought.  Persons suspected of having committed serious 
crimes may be held in custody for 48 hours with the agreement 
of the public prosecutor, who is authorized to decide on an 
extension of the detention for an additional 48 hours.  Any 
further decision on extending detention is made by an 
investigating judge.  Search and arrest warrants issued by the 
judiciary are required in most criminal cases.  There are no 
political prisoners.  Forced exile is not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The court system provides the right of appeal in all civil and 
criminal cases.  The judiciary is independent.  The right to a 
fair public trial is guaranteed by law and respected in 
practice.  Defendants are presumed innocent until proven 
guilty.  Charges must be formally stated.  Defendants have the 
right to counsel.  A system of free or low cost legal 
assistance exists for those defendants unable to pay.  However, 
The Netherlands was criticized in September 1993 by the 
European Commission for Human Rights for limiting the right of 
an attorney whose client is not present for the trial to speak 
in court.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

A judicial warrant is required to enter a person's home or to 
monitor private correspondence or telephone conversations.  
Such warrants are granted upon the presentation of sufficient 
justification to judicial authorities.  The State respects 
individual freedom of choice in family matters.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

A functioning democratic political system, an independent 
press, and an effective judiciary ensure freedom of speech and 
press.  Dutch media policy allocates broadcast time to a wide 
range of social, political, and ethnic groups, ensuring that 
minority viewpoints are heard.  In addition, a cable system 
brings in numerous television and radio broadcasts from 
neighboring countries.

There are no prepublication restraints on any of the media.  A 
traditional consensus precludes the mainstream media from 
disseminating sensitive information involving national 
security, defense, or the Royal Family.  Violent or sensational 
crimes are treated with discretion, with suspects and victims 
often identified only by their initials.  In ongoing 
investigations, only minimal personal data are released on 
criminal suspects, both to maintain the privacy of the suspect 
and his family and to protect the integrity of the 
investigation.  Discrimination and incitement of hatred are 
prohibited under law.  While courts may ban political parties 
at the request of the public prosecutor on the grounds of a 
party's racist, violent, or discriminatory character, there has 
never been an attempt to do so.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Freedom of assembly and association is virtually unrestricted.  
For large assemblies and demonstrations of a political nature, 
permits from local governmental authorities are required.  
These permits are routinely granted, but may be denied when 
authorities believe that "public order and safety" cannot be 
guaranteed as a result of a rally or demonstration.  Public 
meetings of extreme rightist or racist groups have been 
prohibited from time to time.  The Government does not 
arbitrarily impede membership in, or the formation of, 

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is full freedom of religion.  State subsidies are 
provided to religious organizations which maintain educational 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There is freedom of domestic and foreign travel, emigration, 
and repatriation.  In May 1992, The Netherlands began to 
recognize dual citizenship and to make it easier for former 
Dutch citizens to reclaim their citizenship.

The Netherlands has elaborate procedures for deciding asylum 
applications; these take into account conditions in the 
applicant's country of origin.  Applicants who do not meet the 
criteria for political asylum are nevertheless permitted to 
remain in the Netherlands provisionally without refugee status 
if conditions in their country of origin are so violent or 
unsettled that returning them to that country would place them 
in danger.  However, rules regarding asylum seekers which were 
proposed by the Ministry of Justice and approved by Parliament 
in September proscribe consideration of an asylum request if 
the applicant has had a previous request turned down or arrives 
from another country where he or she could have applied for 

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Netherlands is a functioning multiparty democracy.  
Elections are based on proportional representation.  There is 
universal suffrage for citizens aged 18 and older.  Foreign 
residents may vote in municipal elections after 5 years of 
legal residence.  Citizens elect the Second Chamber (House of 
Representatives) of Parliament generally every 4 years (sooner 
if a government resigns or falls due to a parliamentary vote of 
no confidence).  The most recent national elections, held in 
September 1989, resulted in a formation of a center-left 
coalition, with Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers remaining in 
office.  Four major and five minor political parties have seats 
in Parliament, representing the political spectrum from far 
left to far right.  National elections are next scheduled for 
May 1994.

There are no restrictions in law or in practice on the 
participation of women and minorities in government and 
politics.  The Government has encouraged women to seek elected 
office by, among other things, a preferential hiring and 
promotion policy.  Furthermore, political parties have made 
strong efforts to ensure greater representation of women on 
their election lists.  The Second Chamber of Parliament now 
counts 44 women among its 150 members.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Human rights groups, the media, and other interested parties 
are free to pursue inquiries into human rights issues, and 
Dutch authorities readily assist international and 
nongovernmental organizations in their investigations.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


According to a study of violence against women, financed by the 
Ministry of Welfare, Health, and Culture and published in 1989, 
20.8 percent of Dutch women in heterosexual relationships were 
victims of violence.  Slightly over half of these (11 percent) 
experienced repeated severe violence.

The Government supports programs to reduce and prevent violence 
against women.  Battered women find refuge in a network of 
government-subsidized women's shelters offering the services of 
social workers and psychologists.  In addition, battered women 
who leave their domestic partners become eligible for social 
benefits which include an adequate basic subsidy as well as an 
allowance for dependent children.  There are also organizations 
that advise and assist women who have been victims of sexual 
assault.  Spousal rape is a crime and carries the same penalty 
as rape.  Likewise, spousal abuse carries the same penalty as 

Traditional cultural factors and inadequate child care 
facilities can discourage women, especially women with young 
children, from working, although part-time job opportunities 
are often filled by women with families.  The Dutch tax system 
could be another obstacle to both spouses working, but only if 
they are in different tax brackets.  In practice, this is not 
frequent because, since 1990, there have been only three tax 
brackets, and 80 percent of the working population is in the 
hightest tax bracket.  The trend--especially for younger 
women--is toward a higher level of employment.

Net participation of women rose by 180,000 labor years in the 
period from 1988 to 1991, a rise of 4.5 percent per year, 
compared to a 1 percent annual growth in male participation.  
Nearly one-third of all workers in the Dutch economy work 
part-time.  Many of these part-time jobs are held by women who 
seek part-time, rather than full-time, work because of family 
demands on their time and lack of adequate childcare 
facilities.  Social services lag behind the demand caused by 
the large increase in the number of working women with 
children.  In 1992, 46 percent of women aged 15 to 64 had full- 
or part-time jobs, and about 40 percent of the work force was 
female.  The unemployment rate of women reentering the labor 
market is high; most of the jobs available to them are in low 
administrative and service categories.  Women have less chance 
of promotion than do men.

In 1988 the Government started positive action programs for 
women, and a study of 1990 collective labor agreements by the 
Social Affairs Ministry showed that almost all of these 
contracts included one or more schemes to strengthen the 
position of women.  Legislation mandates equal pay for equal 
work; prohibits dismissal because of marriage, pregnancy, or 
motherhood; and provides the basis for equality in other 
employment-related areas.  A legislatively mandated Equal 
Treatment Commission actively pursues complaints of 
discrimination in these areas as well as allegations of pay 

Women have full legal and judicial rights and enter marriage 
with the option of choosing community property or separate 
regimes for their assets.

Women's groups dedicated to such issues as equal rights in 
social security, the legal position of women, sexual abuse, 
taxation, education, work, and prostitution operate freely 
throughout The Netherlands.  In February 1991 the Equal Rights 
Council, in a report entitled "Sexual Intimidation in Work 
Situations," called for tougher legislation to control sexual 
harassment in the workplace.  Nevertheless, a study published 
in January 1992 showed that 20 percent of working women said 
they had been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace.  
This figure rose to 29 percent for women in the 25 to 34 age 
group.  The Government has launched publicity campaigns to 
increase awareness of the problem.  As the biggest employer in 
the country, it has taken measures to counter harassment among 
civil servants, for example, in the police force.


The Government is committed to ensuring the well-being of 
children through numerous well-funded health, education, and 
public information programs.  The Council for the Protection of 
Children, operated through the Ministry of Justice, enforces 
child support orders, investigates cases of child abuse, and 
recommends remedies ranging from counseling to withdrawal of 
parental rights.  In addition, the Government has set up a 
popular children's hotline and a network of pediatricians who 
track suspected cases of child abuse on a confidential basis.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Integration of racial and ethnic minorities into the social and 
cultural mainstream remains a difficult domestic issue.  
Incidents of violence against foreigners are relatively rare 
and isolated.  In November 1993, for example, a group known as 
White Power took credit for an arson attack on a Rotterdam 
store owned by a Pakistani as well as a series of threatening 
letters to minority families.  The Government has tried to 
increase public awareness of racism and discrimination through, 
among other media, television specials, billboard campaigns and 
public speeches.  In February, following years of debate, 
Parliament approved an Equal Rights Act which bans 
discrimination on the basis of sex, race, nationality, creed, 
sexual, or political preference, and allows those who believe 
they have been discriminated against to take the offender to 
court under civil law.

There was a small number of isolated anti-Semitic incidents at 
soccer matches, involving rascist chants and Nazi gestures.  As 
a result of a year long study on racism and soccer, the Royal 
Dutch Football Union on January 22 announced a series of 
measures designed to combat hooliganism and racial incidents at 
soccer games, including a threat to stop matches if racial 
taunting was heard.  No further incidents of racial taunting 
have occurred since that time.

Some 264,000 persons from the former Dutch colony of Suriname 
have come to live in the Netherlands since 1975.  There are 
also approximately 85,000 persons from the Netherlands Antilles 
and Aruba.  In addition, there are about 207,000 Turkish and 
168,000 Moroccan workers and family members.  These groups face 
some de facto discrimination in housing and employment, as well 
as practical limits on opportunities for economic and social 
advancement as a result of educational and skill levels which 
do not compare favorably with those of the majority of Dutch 

Unemployment among large minority groups is four times higher 
than the national average.  Government, employers, and union 
leaders agreed in November 1990 on a series of measures 
designed to reduce minority unemployment levels to the national 
average.  The goal was to increase minority employment by 
15,000 jobs per year over a 4-year period.  The Government 
continued to work with employers to meet this goal.  It 
announced in July that the number of jobs held by ethnic 
minorities increased by 38,000 during the same period.  
Anecdotal evidence suggests the unemployment rate of minorities 
in the larger cities has steadily increased and now is 
estimated to stand at 35 to 40 percent in Amsterdam and 
Rotterdam, compared with the national unemployment rate (ILO 
criteria) of 7 to 8 percent.  The unemployment rate is highest 
among Moroccans and Turks, and substantially higher for the 
female population or both communities.

The municipalities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam have a number of 
programs to promote integration of ethnic minorities.  Several 
seek to keep minority children in school and provide them with 
the skills they need to enter the labor force.  Others seek to 
bring persons of different cultures together and prevent flare- 
ups in certain neighborhoods.  Many of these programs receive 
funding from the national Government.  Although police forces 
in Rotterdam and Amsterdam have outreach programs, efforts to 
hire minorities for the police forces have been largely 
unsuccessful.  For example, Amsterdam has only two Turkish 
speaking policemen on its police force.  While the Government 
has said it will refrain from using contract compliance 
measures or imposing quotas, the Second Chamber of Parliament 
approved legislation in July which will oblige businesses to 
report to labor councils on the number of ethnic minority 
personnel they employ.  Minorities now comprise 3 percent of 
the personnel employed in the national Government; the stated 
goal is to raise this to 5 percent by 1995.

The National Advisory and Consultation Board on Minority Policy 
addresses the problems of minorities in the fields of health, 
education, employment, and the law.  Chaired by the Minister of 
Internal Affairs, it includes representatives of seven ethnic 
minority groups and acts as a consultative body to the Cabinet 
on minority issues and as a conduit to the Government for the 
expression of minority concerns.  Currently represented on the 
Board are the Surinamese, Turks, Moroccans, Indonesians, 
legally admitted refugees, Antilleans and "Northern 
Mediterraneans."  Administrative tribunals have been set up for 
filing claims of discrimination both against employers and the 
Government and in housing matters.  They provide a practical 
means of redress for discrimination claims.

     People with Disabilities

The Netherlands has made an effort to ensure that the needs of 
disabled people are met.  The government-funded programs for 
the disabled included subsidies to adapt housing and public 
transportation, day activity centers, and incentives to 
employers to hire people with disabilities.  Local governments 
are increasingly mandating access to public buildings for the 

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The active trade union movement includes in its membership 
about 25 percent of the employee work force, but the collective 
labor agreements negotiated by the unions cover about 76 
percent of all paid workers.

Dutch trade unions used to be confessional, related to the 
three pillars of old Dutch society--Protestant, Catholic, and 
non-affiliated/Socialist.  This clear division no longer 
exists.  The largest labor federation is the Federated Dutch 
Trade Union Movement (FNV), created in 1982 by a merger of 
Catholic and Socialist unions.  About 60 percent of all trade 
union members are in the FNV.  About 20 percent of union 
members belong to the Christian National Trade Union 
Confederation (CNV), which is mainly but not exclusively 
Protestant.  The Trade Union Confederation which covers middle 
management and managerial staff has about 7 percent of the 
union membership.  Other union members belong to smaller, 
independent unions.  Members of the Dutch armed forces may 
belong to unions.

Unions are entirely free of control by the Government and 
political parties.  They may and do participate in political 
activities.  Several Labor Party (PVDA) Members of Parliament 
have a background as union activists.

With the exception of most civil servants, all workers have the 
right to strike, and this right is exercised freely.  In 1992 
there were 23 labor disputes involving 52,419 workers with 
85,416 workdays lost.  Disputes involving civil servant 
complaints may be appealed to an arbitration panel.  The 
Government and unions continue to discuss their longstanding 
differences over the issue of the right of civil service 
workers to strike and the definition of "essential" civil 

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The right to organize and bargain collectively is recognized 
and well established.  Discrimination against workers because 
of their union membership is illegal and does not exist in 

Collective bargaining agreements are negotiated in the 
framework of the social partnership in industrial relations 
developed among trade unions, private employers, and the 
Government.  These three participants in the Social Economic 
Council meet every autumn and discuss labor issues, including 
the state of the economy, appropriate wage levels for existing 
conditions, and maintaining international competitiveness.  
They develop a "central accord" with agreed social and economic 
goals for the coming year.  A central tripartite body, the 
Labor Commission, oversees implementation of the industrial 
relations system.

Under this umbrella agreement, unions and employers' 
associations negotiate collective bargaining agreements on a 
sectoral basis.  The Government can, and usually does, extend 
these agreements to all companies in the sector.  As a result, 
approximately 76 percent of workers are covered by collective 
bargaining agreements.

Government, unions, and employers recognize the seriousness of 
the unemployment problem (some of it structural and common to 
certain other industrialized countries) and the need to 
maintain Dutch competitiveness by moderating wage demands and 
keeping labor costs as low as possible.  The Government 
announced in September that it would freeze wages, by 
legislation if necessary, to put pressure on employer groups 
and unions to reach collective bargaining agreements which do 
not include wage increases.  This announcement created 
controversy because of commitments arising from International 
Labor Organization (ILO) conventions and the Social Charter of 
the Council of Europe.  The social partners agreed that in any 
case wage increases should not rise above the rate of inflation.

The Government has been asked by ILO committees to amend the 
Wage Determination Act of 1970, which gave the Government the 
power to freeze terms and conditions of employment in the 
public sector in the face of compelling reasons of national 
economic interest.  At year's end, the Government was in the 
final stages of amending the Act to remove these sections.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by the Constitution 
and does not exist.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age for employment is 16.  At that age, young 
people may work full time only if they have completed the 
mandatory 10 years of schooling.  Those still in school at age 
16 may not work more than 8 hours per week.  People under the 
age of 18 are prohibited by law from working at night, working 
overtime, or working in areas which could be dangerous to their 
physical or mental development.  The laws are effectively 
enforced by the Labor Commission, a tripartite entity which 
monitors hiring practices and conducts inspections.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum wage for adult workers is established by law and 
can be adjusted at government discretion every 6 months to 
reflect changes in the cost of living.  Since 1982, few 
adjustments have been made; had adjustments been made 
consistently, it is estimated that the minimum wage would be 
about 15 percent higher than it is.  There is a reduced minimum 
wage for workers under 23 which ranges from 33 percent of the 
adult minimum wage for workers aged 16 to 85 percent for those 
aged 22.  The purpose of the reduced minimum wage law is to 
provide incentives for the employment of young people, one of 
the demographic groups with the highest rate of unemployment.  
The legislated minimum wage, together with social benefits 
available to all minimum wage earners, provides an adequate 
living for workers and their families.

The actual working week in the Netherlands, according to 
European Union (EU) figures, is 35.8 hours, compared to the 
EU's average of 38.8 hours.  This figure partly reflects the 
high level of part-time work done in the Netherlands.  Maximum 
work hours are now legislated at 48 hours a week with strict 
rules about working hours at night, Saturday afternoon, and 
Sunday.  At year's end the Government was preparing to 
introduce a bill to permit more flexible working hours, 
although the maximum number of hours per week will still be 
limited.  Full time workers over age 16 receive, on the basis 
of 38 hours a week, 152 hours of vacation a year.  However, the 
usual vacation period is 24.2 days or 190 hours a year.  There 
are also generous welfare provisions for workers who become 
sick or disabled.  For unemployed workers, there is an 
extensive system of benefits that allows recipients to maintain 
an adequate standard of living.

Working conditions, including comprehensive occupational safety 
and health standards set by law and regulation, are actively 
monitored by the Labor Commission.  Enforcement is effective.  
Workers may refuse to continue work at a hazardous work site.  
The Ministry of Social Affairs also polices standards through 
its Labor Inspectorate.

[end of document]


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