We Promise wins objection procedure about restrictions on right to protest

We Promise is a foundation fighting racism, discrimination, and exclusion in the Netherlands. Among other things, We Promise protests against the J.P. Coen statue in Hoorn, which, according to the foundation, represents a symbolic veneration of a violent colonial past.

In September 2022, We Promise announced a small-scale protest against the statue, with only three people attending. The mayor of Hoorn imposed twenty-three restrictions on the protest, including a ban on sound amplifiers and a ban on “offensive” expressions.

PILP objected to the mayor’s decision on behalf of We Promise, arguing that the restrictions violated the right to protest. The objection was discussed by an independent advisory committee. This committee advised the municipality to decide in favour of We Promise on all points. The municipality followed the advice, acknowledging that some restrictions, such as the ban on amplified sound, went too far and should not have been imposed.

In the objection, PILP also addressed the notification procedure for protests in Hoorn. The procedure required a DigiD (a digital personal identification account) which, according to We Promise, constitutes a barrier for many people to register a protest. The advisory committee stressed that the notification procedure should be low-threshold and accessible to everyone. Because not everyone in the Netherlands has the required digital skills/ knowledge and/or a DigiD, “the exclusive use of a digital procedure with DigiD (…) creates an undesirable barrier to exercising a fundamental right.”

The notification procedure has since been (partially) modified by the municipality.

We Promise is positive about the outcome: “We hope this procedure will help ensure that our right to protest is respected from now on. It is certainly a step in the right direction.”

Read more about the right to protest here.