Parliament supports SP motion: Freedom of assembly is still part of Dutch human rights policy

30 June 2011

Parliament supports SP motion: Freedom of assembly is still part of Dutch human rights policy

SP international affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel describes himself as ‘delighted’ by the fact that his motion on freedom of association and assembly was approved on Friday by the Dutch national Parliament. The motion asks Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to incorporate encouragement of acceptance of the two freedoms into his human rights policy, alongside freedom of expression. ‘Over the next few years the government wants to prioritise freedom of expression in its human rights policy, above other human rights. But these rights are often indissolubly linked to each other. I’m pleased that Parliament has given me its support in this matter.’

Harry van BommelIn many authoritarian countries, you can say what you like as an individual without incurring punishment, but as soon as you try to give your opinions force by establishing an association or trade union, you find yourself outlawed. That’s how things worked in Mubarak’s Egypt, for example, and other Arab countries. “Freedoms and civil rights are thus often extremely difficult to treat separately, and the government should not be doing so,” argues Van Bommel.

It’s not only important to be able to express your opinion freely, but at least as vital to be able to stand up for your opinions and your interests. In many countries, for example, free trade unions are not permitted. Think back to Poland’s Solidarity trade union in 1980. Trade unions which existed previously had been under the guardianship of an authoritarian regime. Forming a union or other association can best be achieved if it can be freely discussed and what kind of action is needed decided upon, which implies freedom of assembly. “This motion offers support to the government in working towards such freedoms.”

You are here