Toespraak van minister Van der Steur op de tweedaagse EU-conferentie over haatcriminaliteit

Toespraak van minister Van der Steur op de tweedaagse EU-conferentie over haatcriminaliteit in Amsterdam op 28 april 2016. De tekst is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Professor O’Flaherty,

Dear representatives of the institutions of the European Union,

Representatives of NGO’s,

Ladies, gentlemen,

It is quite an honour to welcome so many experts on tackling hate crime to the Netherlands.

We, the Dutch, are proud that freedom, tolerance and an open society are part of our 400 year heritage. Over time, Amsterdam, the very same city where we are today, welcomed numerous minority groups. Spanish Jews and French Huguenots in the 17th century, looking for freedom to worship. Writers and philosophers in the 18th century, escaping persecution for their ideas. And, on the 1st of April 2001, the mayor of this city hosted the first same-sex couples, who wanted to affirm their love for each other, by using their right to marry.

But, my dear friends, this is no reason for self-congratulation.

The opening movie we just saw, emphasizes the ongoing importance of defending tolerance: even here, in Amsterdam, people get threatened, beaten, injured even, because they are gay, black, Jewish or Muslim.

Often, the perpetrators get caught. They get convicted. And they receive fines and jail sentences.

But usually only for assault. To prove the discriminatory side of the crimes is often difficult.

This shows that our common endeavour to tackle hate crime continues to be of the utmost importance. Not only for the victims, who get harassed just for being themselves. But for every single European, who wants his individual rights to be protected:



Human dignity.

Today and tomorrow, we are here with representatives of all EU-member states, in close collaboration with the F-R-A. Here, we learn from each other. On helping victims to take the difficult first step and report hate crimes.  On how to make the best use of our law enforcement capacity.  And on grasping the full significance of the problem, by working on better statistics.

On these topics, member States can learn a great deal from each other and we should not let geographical boundaries get in the way of success. I am fully confident that every one of us agrees we owe this to the victims of hate crime.

My dear friends,

In October last year, Commission's First Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights was held. The Commission appointed Ms Von Schnurbein and Mr Friggieri as coordinators on combating antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred.

They will liaise with the Member States, the European Parliament, civil society, and academia to strengthening policy responses designed to address these topics.

This morning they discussed the specific concerns of the respective communities in The Netherlands. The discussion was very useful, as it emphasised the importance of including other relevant policy areas as well, such as education.

I am pleased that this afternoon we will officially launch an online compendium with good practices, collected from all the European countries involved.

Tomorrow , the members of the Working Party will concentrate on the European Commission's overarching strategy to combat hate crime, hate speech, intolerance and discrimination.

The Netherlands Presidency welcomes this strategy. It is a good thing that we continue our efforts in line with the Council Conclusions of December 2013. But, let’s not forget the importance of streamlining the different actions on fighting hate crime that are currently being undertaken.

That is why the Netherlands Presidency is pleased with the announcements of the European Commission and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights to work together more closely in combating hate crime.

This is truly a step in the right direction. We cannot do without a platform to discuss horizontal issues. Strengthening the position of the victims of hate crime. Racial and ethnic profiling by police authorities. And addressing online hate speech. Issues like these can best be dealt with in a coordinated way.

My friends,

I started by emphasizing the victims of hate crime. The pain they suffer. The insecurity they feel. And the importance of speaking out and reporting crimes.

Tomorrow, we have a special guest in our midst. Sylvia Lancaster lost her daughter Sophie in 2007. A 20-year-old girl, wearing gothic fashion.

During a summer walk in the park, Sophie and her boyfriend were attacked by a group of teens and severely beaten, because of how they looked. Sophie suffered head injuries, slipped in to a coma, and died 13 days later.

Since this horrible event, Sylvia has been working with politicians and police authorities. To raise awareness. To ensure that hate crimes are monitored and reported. And to guarantee that every individual is protected by the law.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that a story like her’s embodies the reason why we are here.

Professor O’Flaherty,

Ms Von Schurbein, Mr Friggieri,

Ladies, gentlemen,

I wish you all a successful meeting of the working party.

And I am convinced every single one of you will bring back useful ideas to your capitals.

Thank you very much.

Professor O’Flaherty, the floor is yours.