The Dutch Council for Human Rights College voor de Rechten van de Mens received a record number of complaints and questions about discrimination last year, with concerns about coronavirus issues topping the list.

The council received 5,286 reports and questions, almost double the figure for 2020, but the total includes some 2,300 people who felt they had been discriminated against on the basis of the government’s coronavirus measures – mainly the introduction of the coronavirus pass.

Of the reports directly related to anti-discrimination legislation, 776 referred to disability, 575 to discrimination based on ethnic origin and 453 to discrimination based on sex.

Many complaints of discrimination stemmed from the childcare allowance scandal, in which thousands of people were targeted for further checks or had their allowances withdrawn on the grounds that they had a “foreign” name or were had dual nationality.

Work was the main source of complaints and questions, followed by access to goods and services.

The council was asked to make a record 739 rulings last year and said there were no grounds for complaint in around 40% of them.

One in five complaints actually resulted in a decision or recommendations and only a third of decisions said it was discrimination. Council decisions are not binding but were followed in 9 out of 10 cases.

Coronavirus

The council said many of the questions and reports it had received in the past year were about dissatisfaction with the government’s coronavirus strategy, such as vaccination, due to personal beliefs.

“In law, creed is understood to mean ‘a more or less coherent system of ideas, so that people opposed to vaccination should show a history of refusing vaccination,’ the council said. “However, many claims were not plausible… which is why many of these claims were declared “unfounded”.

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