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During border control operations, the Dutch border police apply general risk profiles that incorporate ethnicity, such as “men who walk fast, are well-dressed and don’t ‘look Dutch”. Such profiles are used to determine whether or not the authorities will stop an individual against whom there is no individual suspicion of any wrongdoing. Despite a negative ruling, our partner, PILP-NJCM, continues to fight in this case of ethnic profiling.

The judgement

After an intensive procedure, the Dutch Court ruled that this practice is allowed. According to the Court, ethnicity is allowed to be used for stop-and-search practices during border controls, even if ethnicity is the decisive criterion for the stop. A coalition of civil society organizations and two non-white Dutch citizens had called on the Dutch State to end these discriminatory controls.

Lawyers from PILP-NJCM, which is located in the Law Hub, represented the coalition together with colleagues from Houthoff. Students from the Amsterdam Law Clinic assisted the PILP-NJCM during preparatory stages of the case.

There was an indignant reaction to this statement from various organizations.

Dionne Abdoelhafiezkhan from Controle Alt Delete:

This ruling is highly disappointing. The harmful practice of racial profiling will remain a day-to-day reality. Every time non-white Dutch citizens return home, they run the risk of being singled out because of the color of their skin.

Dagmar Oudshoorn, Director of Amnesty International The Netherlands:

The ruling that the Dutch border police can continue the practice of ‘ethnic profiling’ not only throws international human rights law out the window, but also tramples on Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution.

The fight continues

Racial profiling is harmful because it contributes to stigmatizing non-white citizens. The Court has now ruled that non-white Dutch citizens may continue to be singled out as potentially “non-Dutch” just because of the color of their skin. Mpanzu Bamenga, one of the individual claimants, refers to this as “very painful, not only for myself and for the coalition, but for all Dutch people. Selecting and stopping people on the basis of their assumed origin misjudges the diversity of the Netherlands. This is a great injustice.” Jelle Klaas, lawyer of PILP-NJCM, also calls the ruling "incomprehensible" and therefore states that they will appeal against it. 

Read more about this case adapted by two Dutch citizens, together with Amnesty International, Controle Alt Delete, anti-discrimination organization RADAR, and the Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM). The coalition is represented by lawyers from Houthoff and from the Public Interest Litigation Project (PILP).