Ethnic profiling at Schiphol? Dutch court rules it exists, and has to stop

When conducting controls at airports and trains, the Royal Dutch Marechaussee discriminates against people based on their skin colour. That is the ruling of the Dutch Supreme Court in The Hague โ€” and it has to stop.

During an appeal on February 14, the court ruled that racial stigmatising and profiling are “a serious form of discrimination.” Judges have advocated a total ban on the use of racial characteristics in identity verification.

The Royal Dutch Marechaussee (KMar) is a national gendarmerie of the Netherlands performing military and civilian duties. Among other things, they are employed to perform so-called “mobile surveillance safety” checks at airports and train stations โ€” to investigate illegal immigration and cross-border crime.

The appeal

Have you ever seen a person of colour be picked out of a line at Schiphol? Or has it happened to you? If your answer is yes, then you wouldn’t be the only one.

In fact, a coalition made up of a number of citizens and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International NL, decided to take the Marechaussee to court over their continued practice of ethnic profiling.

In September 2021, a lower court had decided that, among other factors, the Marechaussee was allowed to check travellers based on external characteristics, as RTL Nieuws writes. Still, a few months later, in November 2021, the KMar announced that they would no longer use ethnic profiling.

Despite this, the coalition believed that ethnic profiling was an ongoing issue at airport, train, and traffic security checks. They wanted an official ruling to prohibit the practice. (As they should!)

A historic ruling

In what is dubbed as a “historic ruling” (that came a little too late, if you ask us), the high court has ruled in favour of the prosecution, and overruled the decision of September 2021. Lawyers and other stakeholders, left the courtroom with tears of happiness in their eyes.

According to the court, the Marechaussee did indeed not stop picking people out for security checks based their skin colour, after November 2021, despite saying they would.

READ MORE | Report finds institutional racism at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Since such practices “lead to stigmatization and pain,” the court has concluded that, on the basis of human rights treaties, the Marechaussee is guilty of discrimination based on ethnicity.

And that is prohibited.

But long overdue

With today’s historic ruling, the court has (finally!) put an end to the “outdated and incorrect image that there is a typical Dutchman and that that Dutchman is white,” as Dionne Abdulhafiezkhan of Controle Alt Delete has put it.

Translation: A historic ruling! The court has just ruled on appeal that the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee may no longer use ethnicity for border controls. This ruling will contribute to stopping discriminatory inspections by the KMar. #StopEtnischProfileren!

The Marechaussee must stop any activities of ethnic profiling immediately, and the service will determine the implications for the current and future work of its employees, reports.

Feature Image: Bas Kijzers/Rijksvastgoedbedrijf/Wikimedia Commons/CC 1.0

Lyna Meyrer ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ
Lyna Meyrer ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ
Say 'hoi' to Lyna, our Senior Writer at DutchReview! Fueled by a love for writing, social media, and all things Dutch, she joined the DR family in 2022. Since making the Netherlands her home in 2018, she has collected a BA in English Literature & Society (Hons.) and an RMA in Arts, Literature and Media (Hons.). Even though she grew up just a few hours away from the Netherlands, Lyna remains captivated by the guttural language, quirky culture, and questionable foods that make the Netherlands so wonderfully Dutch.


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