Thursday, January 6, 2011

Amsterdam Police Chief ~ Suggests He Will Not Enforce Burka Ban

AMSTERDAM, 07/01/11 - Amsterdam police corps chief Bernard Welten has said he will not enforce the ban on the wearing of face-covering clothing that the cabinet is to introduce shortly.

Under the coalition accord, the conservatives (VVD), Christian democrats (CDA) and Party for Freedom (PVV) have agreed to ban face-covering clothing, such as the niqab and burka. If the proposal is passed by parliament as expected, Welten will nonetheless ignore the law and will not fine or arrest any women.

"Some things in the coalition accord I pass over," said Welten on TV programme Vijf jaar later. "I do not always feel myself to be an instrument of the government who immediately does what is asked. I still use my own judgement."

According to Welten, an "extremely complex dilemma" is posed. He will opt for "civil disobedience" because the police "is there to guarantee freedom, equality and justice."

The PVV considers that Welten must resign. PVV MP Hero Brinkman pointed out on Radio 1 yesterday that the police should be subordinated to the government. "The police must enforce. We would be living in a banana republic if this were the other way round."

Other parties are also critical of Welten's anarchistic tone. VVD MP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert considers that he must take back his words. "A corps chief cannot choose for himself which laws he enforces."

CDA MP Mirjam Sterk also says the police must simply enforce the law. She is assuming that Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten will speak to Welten about his views. The House will debate the question with the minister next week.

Labour (PvdA) MP Ahmed Marcouch endorses the view that the police must in principle enforce the law, but considers the debate premature because the law has not come into effect. The PvdA is against a burqa ban.

Welten has already clashed with The Hague earlier. When Desi Bouterse came to power in Surinam, the Amsterdam police chief announced he was halting a partnership with the Surinam police. He was called to order by then Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin (CDA).


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