Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Netherlands

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 May 2012
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Netherlands, 24 May 2012, available at: [accessed 21 January 2018]
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.

Head of state: Queen Beatrix
Head of government: Mark Rutte
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 16.7 million
Life expectancy: 80.7 years
Under-5 mortality: 4.4 per 1,000

A landmark court ruling held the government accountable for the conduct of its troops while they were serving as UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica. The detention of asylum-seekers and irregular migrants caused concern.

International justice

In July, the appeals court in The Hague ruled that the government had been responsible for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslims during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The court ruled that Dutch troops had forced the three to leave a "safe area", effectively handing them over to Bosnian Serb forces, who went on to kill some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys.

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

In January, the European Court of Human Rights halted the return from the Netherlands to Somalia of two asylum-seekers from south and central Somalia, by issuing interim measures. The government subsequently suspended all returns to Mogadishu, Somalia's capital. However, following a further European Court judgement in June, the government announced it would resume returns to Mogadishu of Somali nationals who did not belong to a vulnerable group and could travel to, gain admittance to and settle in areas of south and central Somalia without being at risk of ill-treatment. There were no reported deportations of Somali nationals to south and central Somalia by the end of the year.

At least 180 Iraqis were forcibly returned to Bagdad, Iraq, contrary to the advice of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Most asylum claims were processed using the new eight-day asylum procedure. Of these, over 50 per cent received a determination of their claim within the eight days. There was concern that this procedure may impede asylum-seekers from substantiating their claims and result in the rejection of well- founded claims.

According to government figures 3,220 irregular migrants and asylum-seekers were taken into detention between January and June. They were held in detention centres under a regime designed for remand prisoners. Alternatives to detention were rarely used. In July, the Minister for Immigration and Asylum announced a small-scale pilot project to test alternatives to detention.


In September, the government announced it would begin drafting legislation to ban the wearing in public of clothing intended to conceal the face. A violation of the ban would be punishable with a fine of up to €380. If implemented the ban would have a disproportionate effect on women who chose to wear a burqa or niqab as an expression of their identity or beliefs.

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