Royal Military Police changes position on ethnic profiling

The Royal Military Police (KMar) says it will stop ethnic profiling. This is evident from Lieutenant General Hans Leijtens' input to a round-table discussion in the Lower House on the subject. Earlier this year, the KMar actually defended ethnic profiling in a lawsuit filed by citizens and civil society organizations. The KMar was ruled in favor then. This striking turn is not enough for the plaintiffs, which is why the appeal in this case is continuing.

On Wednesday, November 24, 2021, there will be a roundtable discussion in the Lower House on ethnic profiling, partly in response to the court ruling on ethnic profiling by the Royal Military Police. The KMar's top executive, Hans Leijtens, will also attend and has already sent his input to the Lower House. This came online today. In it, Leijtens writes: "The KMar no longer wants to use ethnicity as an indicator within profiles or selection decisions, within supervisory duties."

This new position of the KMar seems at odds with their previous position which was at stake in the lawsuit on ethnic profiling brought by a coalition of citizens and civil society organizations. The Hague court ruled in this case that the KMar is allowed to look at external features, including skin color, when deciding to take someone out of line.

The KMar thus appears to be deviating from the court ruling and, for that matter, the position taken by the cabinet. Dionne Abdoelhafiezkhan of Control Alt Delete: "The KMar's new position is the result of years of struggle against ethnic profiling. It has taken a long time but the movement within the KMar shows respect for the impact ethnic profiling has on people of color."

Mpanzu Bamenga, co-plaintiff in the lawsuit: "This is an important position change for me because it ensures that I and others people of color are going to be treated equally."

The change in direction of the KMar must actually lead to a different way of working. Dagmar Oudshoorn, director of Amnesty Netherlands: "Eliminating discrimination starts with setting the standard, but it must not stop there. The working method of the military police has to be changed."

This means that the KMar must adjust the policy, draw up new instructions, begin to supervise the checks in a systematic way and account for them transparently. Furthermore, the KMar must take measures toward troopers who do not conform to the new policy.

Lawyer Jelle Klaas of PILP-NJCM: "The KMar's new course does not mean that the appeal is cancelled. There is now a court ruling that approves ethnic profiling. This ruling must be taken off the table. We hope that the Court of Appeal will still decide that ethnicity should not be part of risk profiles and selection decisions. Moreover, the new position of the Royal Military Police raises questions about what this means in concrete terms."

The change to the KMar is an important step, but ethnic profiling is a widespread problem throughout the law enforcement chain. Dionne Abdoelhafiezkhan of Control Alt Delete said, "It is important that the cabinet follows through and prohibits law enforcement officers from working with ethnically charged risk profiles to fight crime or fraud and finally starts coming up with effective measures to stop ethnic profiling."

Source: Radar