Application Numbers 8348/78 8406/78

European Commission on Human Rights

The first applicant was punished for possessing, with the intention of disseminating, leaflets which called for the removal of foreign workers from the Netherlands. The  first and second applicants also contested the decision of the authorities to prevent them from being on an electoral list as members of the Nederlandse Volks Unie. The summary involves only the first part of this case, in which the EComHR applied Article 17, finding it manifestly ill-founded.


Theme(s): Ethnic Hatred

Date:11 October 1979

Description of applicant(s): 1st applicant: President of political party, 2nd applicant: candidate for elections with that political party.

Brief description of facts: The applicant became president of the “Nederlandse Volks Unie,” a political party created in 1971, whose basic principles are, as the applicant describes them, a world conception which grants each nation a proper state, as well as the belief that the general interest of a state is best served by an ethnical homogeneous population and not by racial mixing. He was sentenced to a two-week prison term for possessing racist leaflets with the intention to distribute them. The leaflets included passages such as:

“As soon as the Nederlandse Volks Unie will have gained political power in our country, it will put order into business and, to begin with will remove all Surinamers, Turks and other so-called guest workers from the Netherlands . . .”

(part B of the case involves the right to free elections and will not be included in this summary)

(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Immigrants

The Commission’s assessment of the impugned speech: The Commission held that the speech was unacceptable and that, if the Netherlands had allowed it to continue with no punishment, this would encourage discrimination. In its judgment the Court also referred to Article 14 ECHR.

Important paragraph(s) from the judgment:

Thus, the policy advocated by the applicants is inspired by the overall aim to remove all non-white people from the Netherlands’ territory, in complete disregard of their nationality, time of residence, family ties, as well as social, economic, humanitarian or other considerations. The Commission considers that this policy is clearly containing elements of racial discrimination which is prohibited under the Convention and other international agreements.

ECHR Article(s): Article 17

Decision: Manifestly ill-founded

Use of ‘hate speech’ by the Commission its assessment? No