photo: John Samson

THE HAGUE – While you have not done anything wrong, why are you being held by the police purely because of your appearance? This happens to Dutch Antilleans regularly, but few dare to speak about it.

Often victims of racial profiling choose not to tell their family, because it may cause unnecessary worry. Thirty year old St. Maartener Ruben Richardson knows all about this. Over the last three years he has been ‘racially profiled on three different occasions’ by police in his home district The Hague. “Each time was purely because of my physical appearance or because they were looking for a man and ‘I fit the profile: a black man’.”

By Natasja Gibbs & John Samson

According to a recent survey by the Social Cultural Planning Bureau, amongst Dutch Antilleans, young men are mostly racially profiled by police. One in every five Dutch Antillean has experienced discrimination from police.

According to the Caribbean-Dutch Consultative Body (OCaN), the Antillian stakeholder, this has a negative impact on the level of trust in police. The foundation is therefore ‘seriously worried and wants the police to stop racial incrimination.’

Together with Control Alt Delete, an organization against racial profiling, OCaN sent a letter to the police and the Ministry of Security and Justice this month.

According to the organizations the Ministry and the police say that they do not condone racial profiling, but in practice this is not the case. “Training on awareness and increasing diversity within the police force is lacking. Fundamental solutions remain unaddressed.”

Ruben Richardson has many Antillean friends who have experienced similar situations, but they prefer not to speak out. Also inquires from dozens of other Dutch Antilleans, confirm these stories. They dare not to speak out in the media, because of shame and fear; ‘to be condemned as a criminal while you have not done anything’.

“I can understand it’s difficult to speak about it, because it takes you back to an unpleasant experience”, explained Jair Schalkwijk from Control Alt Delete. “Majority want to forget the experience fast. At the same time, it is important that you do something about it; otherwise there will be no change.”

Anonymous report-app
Control Alt Delete has an app for anonymous reporting of racial profiling. In this way, the organization hopes to better identify how many people are being subjected to racial profiling by the police.

According to human rights organization Amnesty International, ethnic profiling is a form of discrimination and therefore in violation of human rights. Ethnical profiling, Amnesty understands is: “A form of discrimination in which the police stop, control, suspend or persist, partly because of a person’s skin color or origin and without proper and valid reason.”