The following information is based on the Amnesty International Report 2020/21. This report documents the human rights situation in 149 countries in 2020, as well as providing global and regional analysis. It presents Amnesty lnternational’s concerns and calls for action to governments and others. During 2020, the world was rocked by COVID-19. The pandemic and measures taken to tackle it impacted everyone, but also threw into stark relief, and sometimes aggravated, existing inequalities and patterns of abuse.

Netherlands Human Rights 2020

In 2020, Prison-like migration detention remained a concern. The Minister of Justice and Security announced changes to rape legislation to bring it more in line with human right standards. Ethnic profiling by police continued to be a concern. Predictive policing methods used artificial intelligence without safeguards against mass surveillance and discrimination.

Rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

The use of punitive measures such as isolation in migration detention remained a concern, with its use more than doubling in the past few years.

In June 2020, a pending bill on migration detention was amended to give the directors of detention centres powers to respond to unrest by imposing a lockdown and restricting all detainees to their cells in a way akin to isolation for a period of up to four weeks.

Some asylum-seekers remained at risk of deportation as documents which could not be verified were not taken into account in asylum applications. In December 2019, a preliminary ruling had been requested by the District Court of The Hague challenging this situation, but no decision was handed down by year’s end.

Violence against women and girls

In May 2020, the Minister of Justice and Security published a preliminary draft bill of the Sexual Offences Act which proposed no amendments to the legal definition of rape, retaining “forcible coercion” and “violence” as its central elements. It introduced a new, lesser crime of “sexual acts against the person’s will” which would carry half the sentence for the current crime of rape.

The definition of rape proposed was not in line with international human rights law and did not offer sufficient protection for victims of sexual violence. After criticism from civil society organizations, survivors and Parliament, the Minister announced in November that he would amend the proposal so that all forms of involuntary sex would be defined as rape.

During the COVID-19 lockdown measures in March and April of 2020, a specialist helpline reported the number of people calling to seek support due to sexual violence went up.

Excessive use of force

During the year the Minister of Justice and Security worked on the introduction of electro-shock weapons in policing, with the aim of equipping some 17,000 patrol officers with a Taser X2. Contrary to international standards, electro-shock weapons may be used against persons who do not pose an imminent threat to life or risk of serious injury.


Despite mass demonstrations in May and June of 2020 in reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, no measures to combat discrimination were taken. In 2014 the authorities had acknowledged ethnic profiling in law enforcement and introduced interventions such as professional standards, training modules and software applications supporting officers to use their stop and search powers fairly and effectively. However, evaluations showed their implementation continued to be inconsistent.

Mass surveillance

Law enforcement agencies increasingly used algorithmic risk profiles. Police in the city of Roermond conducted an ongoing predictive policing experiment designed to prevent and detect alleged thefts committed by people from Eastern Europe. In September, an investigation revealed that the project violates the rights to non-discrimination, privacy and data protection.1

  1. Netherlands: We sense trouble: Automated discrimination and mass surveillance in predictive policing in the Netherlands (EUR 35/2971/2020)


Netherlands Newsroom

October 11, 2021 • Report

Authorities in Curaçao Continue to Deny Protection to People Fleeing the Crisis in Venezuela

The Curaçaoan and Dutch authorities have violated the rights of Venezuelans seeking international protection in Curaçao, Amnesty International said today in the new report, Still no Safety: Venezuelans denied protection in Curaçao. The organization documented 22 cases of Venezuelans, including children, who have been subjected to human rights violations such as automatic detention under inhumane conditions, ill-treatment, family separations and the denial of their right to seek asylum.

September 9, 2018 • Report

Curaçao: Authorities are denying protection to people fleeing the crisis in Venezuela

Authorities in the Caribbean island of Curaçao, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, must protect people who are fleeing the human rights crisis in nearby Venezuela and put an end to the appalling conditions they face upon reaching Curaçao, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

April 18, 2018 • Report

Trump threat puts European role in lethal US drone strikes under new scrutiny

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November 27, 2017 • Report

Nigeria/UK/Netherlands: Investigate Shell for complicity in murder, rape and torture

The organization has released a ground-breaking review of thousands of pages of internal company documents and witness statements, as well as Amnesty International’s own archive from the period.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 23, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Netherlands 2013

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March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Netherlands 2010

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April 21, 2018 • Press Release

Athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick honored with top award from Amnesty International

Athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick has been honored with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018, the human rights organization announced today.

March 10, 2016 • Press Release

Ai Weiwei, Snowden, Pussy Riot take place of online ads to protest censorship

Messages from Edward Snowden, Ai Weiwei and Pussy Riot will be broadcast across the internet by AdBlock and Amnesty International on the World Day against Cyber Censorship, 12 March 2016.