THE NETHERLANDS - Earlier this week, it was confirmed that the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (de Belastingdienst) have been guilty of ethnic profiling for years. These racist practices, targeting Dutch citizens on the basis of their nationality, have caused irreparable damage to thousands of families, says Sylvana Simons, party leader of BIJ1 in a statement.
BIJ1 demands those responsible for drafting and implementing the policy, be held accountable and for radical action to be taken against institutional racism within the government as a whole.
The Netherlands, while presenting itself as a guardian of international law, is the country where tax authorities selected more than 11,000 people for additional fraud checks on the basis of their (second) nationality.
A practice that was in effect for a number of years. Having a second nationality was an official motive to flag an individual as having an 'increased risk of fraud'.
Due to this policy, thousands of people with a second nationality and/or migration background were subjected to extra screenings and groundlessly highlighted as fraudsters. People were ordered to refund their allowance for childcare, in some cases resulting in high debts and severe financial difficulties. One of the affected parents was even driven to suicide.
"Many families have fallen into the abyss due to the deliberate ethnic profiling by the Dutch Tax Authorities. We must hold the perpetrators of this evil accountable and take action to fully eradicate institutional racism."
Government in denial
Employees started blowing the whistle on these practices as early as 2014. Asscher and Wiebes, respectively the responsible minister and state secretary at the time, must have been aware, but ignored these sounds of alarm. Subsequently, the Council of State (Raad van State), the highest court of law that can rule on a dispute between citizens and the government, also contributed to the preservation of the racist policies. The lawsuits against the tax authorities by hundreds of victims were dismissed under the vice-chairmanship of Piet Hein Donner (former CDA Minister of Justice). Thus allowing these racist policies to continue for years, with devastating consequences for the families.
This misconduct shows that as a citizen, one is powerless against powerful government institutions such as the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. And the maladministration continues. Solutions for the people affected are still nowhere in sight: parents who requested their files months ago, still haven't been able to review them. Nor has there been any progress regarding financial compensation. Ultimately, the only road toward real recovery is structural change for the tax authorities.
Time for action!
An immense evil and enormous injustice has been done to thousands of people. It proves that government officials can be expected to actively discriminate. Serious and adequate action is needed, immediately.