NL police massively fines citizens without ID

By EDRi · January 12, 2005

On 1 January 2005, a new law went into force in the Netherlands obliging
everybody above the age of 14 to always show ID when asked. Dutch police
has immediately started to use the new power by fining dozens of citizens
for not being able to present a valid passport, drivers license or ID
card. Most citizens were given double fines, for example for riding on a
bicycle without proper illlumination, or hanging out in groups and thus
presenting a possible threat to the ‘public order’. In the city of
Rotterdam alone, 20 fines were issued within the first 24 hours of the new
obligation. Two of the first fines that became public have raised serious
concerns about the actual intentions of the police with their new power.

A young man attended the new-year’s reception of the municipality of
Nijmegen, and held up a banner protesting against the policy to evict
asylum seekers. He was arrested and asked to show ID. When he refused to
do so, the police took him to the local police station and held him for
several hours. In the end he was sent home without a fine, but his right
to demonstrate was undermined completely.

A second incident was covered in the eight o’ clock national TV news on 8
January 2005. A 14-year old girl in the municipality of Wijk en Aalburg
was arrested in the very early hours of 1 January 2005 for not being able
to show ID, together with 20 other kids. She spent 5 and a half hours in a
police cell, without any indication of any possible misdemeanour other
than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Before 1 January 2005 a large majority of Dutch people supported the new
law, in support for any measure that could help increase security. After 1
January, many people start to realise they have to bear the costs
themselves, starting at 30 euro for an ID card, but amounting up to 100
euro in case of losing a card or passport. The owner of the website
‘gelijkoversteken’ (hand over simultaneously), calls on all citizens to
demand to see the ID of any supervisor or police officer in return for
showing theirs. He reports numerous incidents of coloured people being
asked for their ID without any other apparent reason than the colour of
their skin.

The Council of State, the highest legal advisory body in the Netherlands,
strongly criticised the proposed law for the lack of any substantive
evidence that it would help in the battle against terrorism. This
criticism was bluntly ignored by Cabinet and Parliament. In a bold new
year’s speech the mayor of Wageningen, Mr Pechtold, spoke out against the
new law and called it an example of The Hague idiocy to lure the general
public into a false sense of security.

NOS news item (in Dutch, 08.01.2005)

Website Gelijk Oversteken (in Dutch)