NL: 50.000 ID fines in 9 months

By EDRi · October 5, 2005

Since the introduction of compulsory identification in the Netherlands on January 1st 2005, the police have fined 50.000 people that could or would not present a valid ID. Almost 4.000 of those who were fined were children aged 14 and 15. The statistics are provided by the Central Judicial Collection office.

About 25% of the people fined do not pay the 50 euro fee (or 25 euro fee for children between 14 and 16 years old). These cases are presented to the local courts. On 28 September the court of Utrecht chose to create a marathon session for the first 250 cases. Only a quarter of the people appeared. Most of them were men that were involved in minor offences, such as driving without belt or peeing in public. One of them was really upset about the case. To the national RTL News he said: “Everybody can see I am Dutch and not a terrorist!” During the session there was a small demonstration in front of the court. The participants demanded withdrawal of the law, because it does not increase security and only causes double fines.

Since the spring of 2005, there is a hotline to report abuse of the law on compulsory identification. Many parents have complained to the hotline they do not want their children to continuously have a passport or ID card on them. The hotline also reports complaints from parents who were completely anxious about their children not returning home in time, after which they found out they were held in a police cell and not allowed to call home.

The national ombudsman in the Netherlands even reports complaints from people who voluntarily reported themselves as witnesses to accidents, but were fined because they could not show their ID. In fact one of the arguments for introducing the law was the need for the police to be able to identify witnesses. Fining voluntary witnesses is of course the surest way to make any witness run away from the scene as fast as possible.

The last bizarre incident in the Netherlands was the arrest of a demonstrator in The Hague who was part of a very large (and authorised) demonstration of the left wing movement. The man held up a sign protesting against compulsory ID. The police officers at the event accused the man of ‘unauthorised assembly’ and wanted to see his ID. He didn’t have it with him and was taken to the station to have his fingerprints taken.

Finally, living up to the fears of many people opposing the law from the start, there indications that people with a coloured skin are demanded to show their ID more so than others. Achmed Aboutaleb, a famous Amsterdam municipal manager (alderman), said his son was asked for his ID 8 times within a few months. He contends that the ID checks occurred only because his son ‘looks Moroccan’.

Hotline abuse law on compulsory identification (in Dutch only)