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The human rights of the Netherlands are codified in the Dutch constitution. Together with other European states, the Netherlands is often at or near the head in international civil liberties and political rights rankings.[1]


Constitutional rights

The first chapter of the Dutch constitution codifies the rights of all inhabitants of the Netherlands. These are both negative and positive rights as well as democratic rights. This includes a ban on discrimination (the first article of the Netherlands), the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly and the right to privacy. These are limitations on government, which citizens can enforce these classical civil rights directly at the judge. Additionally there are social rights such as the right to housing, social security, health care, education and employment. These are duties of the government towards its citizens, but these cannot be enforced by a judge. Democratic rights include the passive and active right to vote. The Netherlands has banned capital punishment during peace time and war time. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is responsible for the constitution.

The Netherlands is signatory to all relevant international human rights instruments such as European Convention on Human Rights, Rome Statute (for the International Criminal Court) and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, European Convention on Torture and the European Social Charter.


Several institutions are involved in the protection of classical human rights, in addition to the Supreme Court, the Commission Equal Treatment (non-discrimination), the Board Protection Personal Information (privacy) and the National Ombudsman.

In 2007 Amnesty International criticized the Dutch government of several human rights issues, including war crimes in the Iraq war, the treatment of alleged terrorists and the detention of migrants, especially children and an incident surrounding a fire in an asylum seeker detention centre.[2] In 2005 The US Department of State observed several problems with human rights such as the societal discrimination and violence against religious and ethnic minorities, especially after the murder of Theo van Gogh and the human trafficking in women and girls for sexual exploitation.[3]

International law

The Netherlands hosts several international human rights institutions. The Hague is home to the International Criminal Court, the Yugoslavia Tribunal, the International Court of Justice, Rwanda Tribunal.

See also



  1. ^ See Freedom House ranking, 2005. Switzerland received the highest possible grade, 1, in both political rights and civil liberties. See also the Netherlands' entry in List of indices of freedom.
  2. ^ Amnesty International report for 2007
  3. ^ report of the Department of State for 2005

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