Government measures to combat discrimination

The government wants to prevent and combat discrimination. The Netherlands therefore has legislation that prohibits discrimination. Several agencies, such as the Public Prosecution Service and the antidiscrimination services, are involved in the fight against discrimination.

Antidiscrimination legislation

Discrimination is prohibited in the Netherlands. This is enshrined in Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution and the Equal Treatment Act.

The Municipal Antidiscrimination Services Act ensures that everyone has the opportunity to report (alleged) discrimination in their own place of residence. In addition, everyone is entitled to receive assistance and advice from an antidiscrimination service.

Heavier penalties for violent crimes involving discrimination

Since 1 June 2011, the Public Prosecution Service has been demanding double the standard penalty for violent offences involving discrimination. 

National Discrimination Expertise Centre

The Public Prosecution Service (OM) determines whether a particular action is an offence or not. For this purpose, it has set up a special expertise centre, the National Discrimination Expertise Centre (LECD-OM). Public Prosecutors can contact the centre for advice.

Registering discrimination

The Public Prosecution Service (OM) registers all discrimination cases that are brought to its attention. In order to tackle discrimination effectively, it is important to have a clear picture of the nature and scope of discrimination-related problems. The OM also operates an integrated database of criminal cases (GPS), which can be used to register all discrimination-related crimes (such as arson attacks on mosques or the desecration of Jewish cemeteries) that take place within a specific municipality.

Within each municipality, it is the statutory responsibility of the local antidiscrimination service to register discrimination complaints. Once a year, the services inform the municipalities about the complaints they have received.

Discrimination experts

Every municipality provides access to a municipal antidiscrimination service, which is often an existing antidiscrimination bureau. People always have access to a local antidiscrimination service to report discrimination and receive independent, professional assistance.

In addition, each of the 11 regional public prosecutor’s offices in the Netherlands has a specially trained public prosecutor who handles all discrimination cases in the region.

Information on discrimination

The government provides municipal antidiscrimination services, which are usually existing antidiscrimination bureaus. As well as registering and processing discrimination complaints, these services can perform other tasks, such as providing information on discrimination in schools and businesses. In addition, they cooperate with the Public Prosecution Service and the police at local level to prevent and combat discrimination.

The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights: independent advice

The government supports the work of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights. The institute is an independent body that provides various parties, including the government, with solicited and unsolicited advice on issues relating to equal treatment. The institute's advice is not legally binding but is often followed in practice.