National frameworks to address hate crime in the Netherlands

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in the Netherlands. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on the Netherlands's hate crime report page.

Hate crime recording and data collection

Dutch legislation does not include a definition of hate crime. The relevant data are based on "discrimination incidents". A discrimination incident is an occurrence that has been recorded in the BHV business processing system, and which includes (a combination of) words that can point to a discriminatory fact or a discriminatory (biased) aspect, or that has been flagged as discrimination (with a specific code) by police officers. Subject experts must have determined that: (1) an utterance or a behaviour can be identified that touches one of the discrimination grounds listed in the Criminal Code (namely, "race", sex, religion, belief, sexual orientation and disability), including if the discrimination ground cannot be determined; or (2) this occurrence (probably) meets the elements of the articles 137c-g or 429 quarter of the Criminal Code, or the elements of a crime committed with a bias motive (codis). Marking property with swastikas is also considered discrimination and added to the list of discrimination incidents.

Collecting data about discrimination has two objectives:

  1. Operational application: information at case level has immediate significance in tackling discrimination. Overviews of discrimination incidents are discussed periodically in the Regional Discrimination Consultation (RDO), where police units discuss the handling of discrimination cases with the Public Prosecution Service and the anti-discrimination agencies (ADAs).
  2. To report on the nature and level of the registered incidents and identifiable trends.

The annual "Discrimination Figures" report handles the discrimination incidents registered by police and discrimination reported to the ADAs in the Netherlands. The data are supplemented by other data gleaned from the contact point in the Netherlands for discrimination on the internet (MiND) and the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (NIHR).

In 2019, the police changed their registration of discrimination incidents, discontinuing the previously used distinction between regular acts of discrimination and those targeting employees with public duties (such as police officers). As a result, data from 2018 and 2019 cannot be compared. In addition, in 2019, the subcategories of race and religion were no longer registered, meaning that data regarding bias against Roma and Sinti and Muslims are not available for 2019.

The Public Prosecutor Office's statistics are not based on incidents, but on a number of discrimination facts, which are registered and decided upon based on one of the discrimination articles in the Criminal Code: 137c-g and 429 quarter. One discrimination fact can include several discrimination incidents. Alongside the discrimination facts, the data include 'codis': facts where a discriminatory aspect has played a role as a motive or the crime committed has a strong impact.

The Criminal Discrimination Overview report is drafted by the National Centre of Expertise on Discrimination (LECD) within the Public Prosecutor's Office (PPO). The report provides information for the Public Prosecution on the inflow and processing of specific discrimination offences in a particular year.

The figures of judges are based on the number of court cases. One court case can include several discrimination facts which, in turn, can include several discrimination incidents. The Central Bureau of Statistics conducts annual crime victimization surveys which include discriminatory aspects behind crimes.

The Dutch criminal justice system does not require hate crime cases to be assigned to specialized personnel, and many hate crime cases are handled by non-specialized police and prosecutors. However, specialists from the police, the public prosecution service and anti-discrimination bureaus meet every two weeks to exchange information, including on potential hate crime cases. During this meeting, cases recorded as possibly involving discrimination (including those committed with a bias motive) are discussed to decide whether the anti-discrimination bureau needs to be involved, or whether the case should be taken up by a public prosecutor specializing in discrimination or by a regular prosecutor. Additionally, a specialist team has been established and tasked with retrieving certain cases from national police registers, with the help of a query, and double-checking them in order to see whether a discriminatory aspect has accidentally been overlooked. A potential hate crime is categorized as such based on the victim’s perception on first contact with the police. The Dutch system allows for third-party reporting of a crime on behalf of the victim.   

Hate crime victim support

The Netherlands provides both general victim support and specialized support for victims of hate crime. In accordance with Dutch legislation, special protection measures can be applied to hate crime victims.

There are many organizations providing general and specialized victim support in the Netherlands. The general support providers include Victim Support Netherlands, which supports the victims of crime, traffic accidents, disasters and calamities. It offers legal, financial, social and practical assistance, and provides information on compensation.

The police and prosecution services employ personnel trained on hate crimes. Voluntary and mandatory courses on hate crime are offered to all law enforcement officials. The police actively reaches out to vulnerable communities and special anti-discrimination bureaus. A specific victim support service is provided by the Dutch police to the LGBTI community in the form of a network of “Pink in Blue” police officers. 

A mandatory individual needs assessment procedure is conducted for all crime victims on first contact with the police. The victims of bias-motivated crimes are treated as vulnerable and are entitled to special protection measures, including:

  • the use of an address other than their home address in the case file;
  • the possibility to testify anonymously;
  • a hearing by specially trained personnel or in an appropriate room;
  • assistance during the hearing by a lawyer or person of their choosing;
  • the use of audio-visual equipment during a hearing;
  • the possibility of placing a restraining order on the perpetrator;
  • the provision of shelter, home security measures and/or a police escort;
  • mediation to assist in their recovery;
  • the possibility of a non-public hearing in court;
  • the provision of a separate waiting area in court; and
  • measures to prevent the perpetrator from engaging in eye contact with the victim.

There are procedural rights in place specifically for the victims of hate crime and other vulnerable victims. These include the right to be informed about decisions (including the reasons for these decisions), the right not to prosecute or to discontinue prosecution, as well as the right to dismiss or conditionally dismiss a case. In the Netherlands, hate crime victims can deliver an victim impact statement during proceedings, depending on the seriousness of the criminal act committed against them.

Please note that the above text may be subject to updates based on information provided by the National Point of Contact