Europe critical of rights in Netherlands
The Council of Europe issued a report that was critical of the Human Rights situation in the Netherlands.
STRASBOURG —The Netherlands needs to revamp its policies on immigrants and asylum seekers.
European Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg was critical of the situation in the Netherlands in a report issued Wednesday by the Council of Europe.
Poor living conditions for asylum seekers are among the issues addressed in the report. In many centres there is only one communal shower room for men and women.
The rights of children were also brought into the light. In the Netherlands children as young as 12 can be criminally charged.
“That is really quite young. In most countries children have to be 14,15 or 16 before they can be criminally tried. At the age of twelve it’s better to provide more social alternatives,” according to Hammarberg. “The Netherlands could be more child-friendly.”
Hammarberg visited a child detention centre at Schiphol airport where he met young asylum seekers who were well cared for, but who had no idea what their future held. “That’s unacceptable. Children need to have an explanation given to them on their own level, in their own language.”
Hammarberg said that certain basic rights aren’t yet in effect in the Antilles. Bodily punishment of crime isn’t forbidden in the Antilles, for example. “I think that these rights should be applicable in the entire Kingdom, and that applies to the Antilles.”
He called on Minister of the Interior Guusje ter Horst to grant the internal investigator of the national police force (rijksrecherche) more independence in researching misconduct among the police, something that should prevent police officers from protecting each other.
Hammarberg is also concerned about plans to speed up asylum requests in the Netherlands.
“An expedited procedure is useful in clear-cut cases, but it’s extremely insufficient for vulnerable groups such as victims of violence and for children on their own.”
Hammarberg, a Swede, visited the Netherlands in September. He visited a youth centre, an asylum seekers centre, a mosque and a primary school.
A total of 47 countries were brought under the scrutiny of the Council of Europe. The Netherlands was one of the last to be reported on.
Hammarberg wouldn’t say how the Netherlands compared to other European countries. “We’re not ranking countries. Every country is different.”
The political party GroenLinks hopes to gain insight into what Minster André Rouvoet (Youth and Family) thinks of the report in an emergency debate Wednesday afternoon in the Tweede Kamer.