U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Netherlands
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Netherlands, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa1864.html [accessed 14 March 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
THE NETHERLANDSThe Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary legislative system and an independent judiciary. 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 free and fair elections. Regional police forces are primarily responsible for maintaining internal security. The police, the royal constabulary, and investigative organizations concerned with internal and external security are effectively under civilian authority. The market-based economy is export oriented and features a mixture of industry, services, and agriculture. Key industries include chemicals, oil refining, natural gas, machinery, and electronics. The agricultural sector produces fruit, vegetables, flowers, meat, and dairy products. Living standards and the level of social benefits are high. Unemployment is 5.7 percent; however, long-term unemployment, in particular among ethnic minorities, is still a problem. The Government generally respects the rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. The Government is taking serious steps to address violence and discrimination against women. The Government has also taken steps to address societal discrimination against minorities. Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, which are two autonomous regions of the kingdom, also feature parliamentary systems and full constitutional protection of human rights. In practice, government respect for human rights in these islands generally is little different from that in the European Netherlands. The two Caribbean Governments have taken measures to address past reports of police brutality, but the islands' prison conditions remain substandard.