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Netherlands: Anti-discrimination training for government employees (Unofficial translation)

Employees of the Tax and Customs Administration and other executive government organisations must receive training on discrimination. This is what outgoing Prime Minister Rutte states in a letter sent to the Lower House soon after the fall of the governing coalition. Organisations such as the UWV, the Social Insurance Bank and the Education Executive Agency are also mentioned as target groups.

12 million EUR for anti-discrimination

The budgetary framework that was sent with the government's response states that until 2026, 12 million euros will be earmarked for 'anti-discrimination' training for the national government and municipalities. Increasing awareness of officials' own prejudices and entrenched stereotypes, in order to prevent discrimination within the government, is an important focal point of the the strategic personnel policy for central government 2025.

Expansion of Human Rights Institute and new roles

The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights will play an important role in the training. ‘It will include training on discrimination and prejudices’ says Adriana van Dooijeweert, Director of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights. ‘The goal is to make people aware that everyone is unconsciously prejudiced and at risk of unconsciously discriminating. It is important to be aware of the consequences of discrimination.’

Van Dooijeweert also sees the establishment of a National Coordinator for Discrimination as an important weapon in the fight against discrimination. Additionally, a number of governmental organisations must now refer discrimination-related complaints to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights.

Anti-discrimination hotlines must support the reporter in the complaints process. ‘This involves provision of legal and emotional support when submitting a complaint about discrimination, and at a possible hearing at the Human Rights Institute’, Rutte states in the letter. More people must also be hired at both the hotlines and the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights: ‘A significant expansion of the activities of hotlines requires adjustment of the regulations’, Prime Minister Rutte writes.

'Training is not enough'

Anti-racism organisation Control Alt Delete thinks that the training courses are important, but not enough. ‘You have to be careful that training does not put responsibility on the individual civil servants. They do their job’, says Dionne Abdoelhafiezkhan of Control Alt Delete; ‘the problem is found throughout the entire system, at all levels of government and must therefore be tackled more broadly’. According to Abdoelhafiezkhan, the solution is to no longer work with risk profiles that include ethnicity: ‘it is now up to politicians to tackle this’.

Read more on this here and here.