MINELRES: Justice Initiative Finds Racial Discrimination in Dutch Database
Tue Mar 25 16:56:04 2008
Original sender: Justice Initiative <firstname.lastname@example.org>
JUSTICE INITIATIVE FINDS RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN DUTCH DATABASE
Amsterdam, March 21, 2008 — The Open Society Justice Initiative this
week urged the Dutch government to end its discriminatory gathering and
processing of sensitive racial and ethnic data.
The government-compiled database, known as the "Reference Index of
Antilleans," violates both European and international legal norms,
according to the Justice Initiative. The index, which gathers and
maintains data on the basis of individuals' membership in an ethnic
group, infringes the right to be free from racial and ethnic
discrimination and the right to privacy, according to a legal submission
by the Justice Initiative in a case challenging the Reference Index. The
case is being heard by the Dutch Council of State; the Justice
Initiative's brief is available here.
"This is an important opportunity for the highest administrative court
in the Netherlands to put a stop to this discriminatory practice, which
exclusively targets Antillean and Aruban youth," said Robert O. Varenik,
acting executive director of the Justice Initiative. "The use of this
type of database is a clear violation of the European Convention on
Human Rights and basic norms of international human rights law."
In late 2005, the Dutch Government introduced the database to identify
Antillean and Aruban youths deemed "at-risk" of committing crimes or
experiencing various social problems. Individuals registered in the
database are placed under enhanced scrutiny, including personal
surveillance and other preventive law enforcement interventions. In July
2007, The Hague Regional Court ruled that the database "is not an
appropriate method to reach the intended purpose." But the Dutch
government, together with 21 municipalities that intend to use the
database, appealed the decision to the Council of State.
The Justice Initiative's brief argues that the use of ethnic or racial
data linked to a risk profile is a form of unlawful ethnic profiling
amounting to racial discrimination.
"This form of discrimination has a stigmatizing effect on the Antillean
community at large, and adversely affects far more people than those
subjected to registration in the database" said Varenik.
The Justice Initiative's project on contemporary forms of discrimination
in Europe promotes litigation to combat racial, ethnic, and religious
discrimination in European Union states. It seeks to empower victims of
discrimination to use advanced antidiscrimination legal protections
before national, regional, and international tribunals. The project
pursues cases that address systemic problems and can generate
significant public impact beyond the courtroom.
Contact: Maxim Ferschtman: +31-20 773 3871 (Amsterdam),
The URL for this page is:
The Open Society Justice Initiative, an operational program of the Open
Society Institute (OSI), pursues law reform activities grounded in the
protection of human rights, and contributes to the development of legal
capacity for open societies worldwide. The Justice Initiative combines
litigation, legal advocacy, technical assistance, and the dissemination
of knowledge to secure advances in the following priority areas:
national criminal justice, international justice, freedom of information
and expression, and equality and citizenship. Its offices are in Abuja,
Budapest, London, New York and Washington DC.
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