Head of state
Queen Beatrix
Head of government
Mark Rutte (replaced Jan Peter Balkenende in October)
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
16.7 million
Life expectancy
80.3 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f)
6/5 per 1,000

Iraqis were forcibly returned to Iraq in contravention of UNHCR guidelines. The introduction of new accelerated asylum-determination procedures and the detention of asylum-seekers and irregular migrants gave rise to concern.


In September, following criticism by international and national human rights bodies and organizations, the interim government put forward an action plan to combat discrimination before parliament. However, there were concerns that the plan lacked measures to adequately address discriminatory government policies and practices, such as ethnic profiling by law enforcement officials.

In October, in its coalition agreement, the new government announced its intention to introduce legislation that would ban the wearing in public of clothing that is intended to conceal the face. This raised concerns that the prohibition would violate the freedom of expression and religion of women who choose to wear the burqa or niqab as an expression of their identity or beliefs.

Top of page

Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

At least 75 Iraqis were forcibly returned to Baghdad, in contravention of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, guidelines. Following a letter from the European Court of Human Rights on 22 October asking the authorities to refrain from returning to Baghdad any Iraqi who challenged his or her return until further notice, the forcible return of a number of Iraqis was deferred.

On 24 November, the government announced that returns would be resumed.

In October, the government announced that returns to Somalia of individuals from Mogadishu had been temporarily suspended because of the security situation in Mogadishu. However, returns of individuals from other parts of Somalia to Mogadishu were still planned.

Despite the lack of a functioning asylum system and concerns, among other things, about detention conditions in Greece, transfers of asylum-seekers to the country under the Dublin II Regulation continued. In October, the Minister of Justice announced that transfers would be temporarily suspended pending outcomes in cases before the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the lawfulness of transfers to Greece.

From 1 July, most asylum claims were processed in a new eight-day asylum procedure, with a possible extension to 14 days in some cases. There was concern that this procedure may impede asylum-seekers from substantiating their claims and result in the rejection of well-founded claims for protection.

According to government figures, 3,980 irregular migrants and asylum-seekers were subject to administrative detention in the first six months of the year. They were held in detention centres under a regime designed for remand prisoners; alternatives to detention were used infrequently. In March, the CERD Committee expressed concern at the practice of detaining families with children and unaccompanied children seeking asylum upon their arrival in the Netherlands.

Top of page

Human rights by region

World regions Midde East and North Africa Asia Pacific Europe and Central Asia Africa Americas


A number of countries in Africa celebrated the 50th anniversary of their independence during the year while others prep ...


In the Americas many human rights have been recognized in law, if not always in practice, over the past 50 years. Whi ...

Asia Pacific

In a region with almost two thirds of the world’s population, stretching a third of the way around the planet, ...

Europe & Central Asia

The right to truth and justice, and the determination of victims and their relatives to achieve this how ...

Middle East and North Africa

2010 dawned with Yemen an unusual focus of international attention following an alleged terrorist ...

Jump to a Country Report

Country Visits

No information on visits available