Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2017, 15:40 GMT

Netherlands: Police attitude and response to violent crimes perpetrated against Dutch citizens of Muslim background; recourse available to individuals with a complaint against the police

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 24 September 2004
Citation / Document Symbol NLD43008.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Netherlands: Police attitude and response to violent crimes perpetrated against Dutch citizens of Muslim background; recourse available to individuals with a complaint against the police, 24 September 2004, NLD43008.E, available at: [accessed 11 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

While no information pertaining specifically to police officers' attitude and response to violent crimes perpetrated against Dutch citizens of Muslim background could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate, Country Reports 2003 claimed that the police conducts its investigations in a "highly professional manner," with no indication of "systematic ... corruption or imputations of widespread improprieties" (25 Feb. 2004).

With regard to police officers' attitude towards members of visible minority populations in general, a 2001 study by the Catholic University Brabant found that 50 per cent of respondents indicated that they faced police discrimination, an improvement over 1995 when 68 per cent of respondents reported such discrimination (National Bureau Against Racial Discrimination July 2002). In contrast with these findings, the authors of a report on racism and the extreme right in The Netherlands noted that the incidence of "complaints of racist treatment by the police corps is very low" (van Donselaar and Rodrigues 2003).

However, the same report also claimed that the police are not complying with guidelines on the handling of discrimination-related complaints in general by failing to record a written deposition in every reported case (ibid.). As a result, "only the most obvious [discrimination] cases are brought to the Public Prosecutions Department; the other (less evident) cases are not dealt with" (ibid.). This information corroborates the claim made by Marcel Kreuger of the National Bureau Against Racial Discrimination that officers responsible for receiving complaints are often not aware of the proper procedure to follow and in some cases are reluctant to accept discrimination-related complaints (8 Dec. 2001). While the International Religious Freedom Report 2004 stated that "stricter instructions to prosecutors and the police took effect in April 2003 to ensure proper attention to incidents of discrimination" (15 Sept. 2004, Sec. 3), information on the impact of these instructions could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

According to Piotr Bysina, a "police legal expert," complaints can be made against the police for

abuse of ... power, discrimination, not taking necessary action, being violent and other behavior. Complaints are not investigated if the misconduct occurred more than a year prior to the complaint. Every person can report a complaint against a police officer to the Police Unit. The complaint is further reported to the appropriate Chief of Police. The Office of Internal Affairs takes further actions in regards to the complaint. After an inquiry, the Chief of Police receives a report with the results of the investigation. Thereafter, the Chief of Police informs the Mayor of the City (Burgomaster) who is politically responsible for the police force and decides on possible disciplinary measures (Police Law, Art 61). Disciplinary action is taken only when the police officer has violated internal police regulations and his/her actions were not criminal in nature (Police Law, Art 66). The police officer can appeal against the disciplinary action to a court, which makes a final decision. If the result of an investigation indicates that a crime was committed, the case is transferred to the Prosecutor who can order a standard criminal investigation.

It is also possible to take a complaint directly to the Prosecutor. The Prosecutor can refer to the appropriate Office of Internal Affairs to clarify the circumstances surrounding the complaint. The procedure thereafter is the same as when a complaint is made directly to the Police Unit.

Another external institution to which complaints can be directed is the office of the Ombudsman. One of the duties of the Ombudsman is receiving complaints regarding the actions of all officials, including the police institution, an individual official or police officer. The office of the Ombudsman conducts an inquiry of the circumstances related to the complaint. Decisions and opinions are passed on to the appropriate Mayor of the City, who is responsible for the actions of the police in that area. Complaints directed to the office of the Ombudsman can be made regarding not only improper actions of the police or police officers but also regarding police procedures. Complaints can also be made in regards to police regulations that are not in line with international standards by which The Netherlands are obliged. In decisions regarding whether a police officer committed a crime, the case is directed automatically to the office of the appropriate local Prosecutor for further procedural measures (Legislationonline n.d.).

A number of police forces in large Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, have reportedly established special units to deal with complaints of police misconduct (US n.d.). However, no information on the effectiveness of these units, along with other police complaints mechanisms, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. "Netherlands, The." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 16 Sept. 2004]

International Religious Freedom Report 2004. 15 September 2004. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 16 Sept. 2004]

Kreuger, Marcel. 8 December 2001. "Combating Racism in The Netherlands: The View of the Dutch National Bureau Against Racial Discrimination (LBR)." NGO Forum Conference, Stockholm. [Accessed 16 Sept. 2004]

Legislationonline. n.d. Piotr Bysina. "Complaints Against Police: Netherlands." [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

National Bureau Against Racial Discrimination. July 2002. "Racism in The Nerthlands: Year in Perspective 2001." [Accessed 16 Sept. 2004]

United States (US). n.d.. Department of Justice. Alexis A. Aronowitz. "The Netherlands." World Factbook of Criminal Justice Systems. [Accessed 20 Sept. 2004]

Van Donselaar, Jaap and Peter Rodrigues. 2003. "Summary: Monitoring Racism and the Extreme Right (Fifth Report)." Translated by Nancy Forest-Flier. Amsterdam: Anne Frank House. [Accessed 16 Sept. 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

Unsuccessful attempts to contact three oral sources.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, Anne Frank Foundation, Dialog, European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), Expatica, Human Rights Watch, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ministry of Justice, National Bureau against Racial Discrimination, Netherlands Info Services (NIS), Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, Netherlands Police Institute, Office the National Ombudsman, Radio Netherlands Wereldomroep.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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