de identificatieplicht

Identification troubles (in Holland), a historical and procedural perspective Part 2

Identification troubles (in Holland), a historical and procedural perspective Part 1

Identification troubles (in Holland), a historical and procedural perspective Part 1

In the eighties a discussion, led by the Minister of Justice Korthals-Altes, is held about the introduction of a sort of identification duty. On a press-conference of the cabinet, Korthals-Altes ventilates his 'strictly personal' opinion that there should be an obligatory identification-pass introduced in the Netherlands. This would be necessary with regard to the combatting of crime.

In the following years, fraud-fighting is also quickly intro- duced as an argument in the discussion. Besides this the unequal treatment of Dutch and foreigners is mentioned, because foreigners already have an obligation to identify themselves. Finally footballsupporters and people freeriding in public transport are mentioned. Most important cause of the introduction of an identification duty seems to be the Schen- gen agreements. Because of the therein proposed lifting of the inner border controls, politicians suggested that foreign criminals would be attracted to come to the Netherlands.
Because of this the necessity of control would increase. In one breath it was suggested that there would also be an increased necessity to control foreigners, especially on those places where they are concentrated. Besides this it is repeat- edly falsely represented, that the Netherlands are the only country where such an obligation is non-existent. Besides it is questionable if the situation in the countries where such an obligation is existing, e.g. France and Belgium, is so attractive.

Preparation of the proposal

In june 1987 the report "Grensbewaking" (Bordercontrol) is issued, in which Korthals-Altes and the Minister of Foreign Affairs van den Broek go in to the effects of the Schengen treaty. The following motive for the introduction of the identification duty is given: " the necessity to intensify the surveillance of foreigners and the extension of the possi- bilities of investigating criminal offenses in the Nether- lands, where now only foreigners have to identify themselves, would be reason for a discussion about the possibility and necessity of the introduction of a general identification duty for those cases in which the police and other investigative officers now have the authority to ask somebody's name." In this report "the disorderly influx of asylum-seekers" is put on the same level as terrorists, drugs dealers, weapons, antiques and arts smuggle. In june 1988 Korthals-Altes puts forward his report on "the Identification Duty". For foreigners and foreign inhabitants a lot of problems threaten. The emphasis in the proposal is mainly put on the internal surveillance of foreigners.
In the Schengen treaties it is decided that the bordercontrols are cancelled, but controls will have to be made able to take place in the whole country. The suspicion that somebody is a foreigner officially can not be ascertained by ethnic features like speech and colour of skin. The report seems to be directed at concealing the original thoughts behind the propo- sal. Stripped of all fringes it in fact states that the Aliens Act has to be adjusted so that the whole of the Netherlands becomes border area, where the identity papers of foreign- looking people can be checked at will.

Commission Zeevalking

In the government treaty of 1989 it is announced that the cabinet wants to be advised on the terrain of countering illegal immigration, countering incorrect use of collective facilities by illegals and activating the internal surveil- lance of foreigners, "in which the question of a limited identification duty plays a part". Thus on 14 march 1990 the commission on Internal Surveillance of Foreigners is instated, its president is mister Zeevalking. March 1991 the end report of the Commission is published. The commission advises to extend the, in the Aliens Act already existing, identification duty to all people in the Netherlands. Investigative officers would not ask for identity papers randomly, but only "when this would reasonably be necessary for the execution of their tasks". Disturbances and suspicion of criminal offenses are some examples.
The commission Zeevalking pleads for an obligation to show your identification card at a certain moment like there has been in Germany since the fifties. The CDA (Christian Demo- cratic Party) keeps on demanding an obligation to carry, the obligation to carry your identification card on you always. In april 1991 the concept proposal 'Identification Duty' is published. There would be an obligation to identify in the following situations:
- at financial institutes
- with your employer
- executive institutions of public assistance
- checks of the internal surveillance of foreigners
- at the public notary

At the discussion of the additional Schengen treaty the iden- tification duty appears again. Both CDA and VVD want to use this as a means to introduce a general identification duty. Without this the Netherlands would become a paradise for illegal workers and taxfrauds. That would also be the reason why all hardworking and law abiding citizens are in favour of an identification duty.

Both parties have to establish though that many think differ- ently. Not only immigrant pressuregroups and other oppose the proposal, but also the Internal Security Service (BVD). They expect that introduction will lead to uncontrollable actions of the police forces against immigrants, this in turn leading to racial tension and riots, like in Belgium and France. The Central Police Surveillance Commission (CPSC), argues besides already mentioned arguments, that the chances of arrest will not increase with the combatting of crime, that the already existing identification duty offers enough possibilities for control and supervision and that the introduction of the identification duty to suspects will put an increase strain on the relation citizen-government, where this is not required by the importance of this relation.

Still in March 1992, the cabinet agrees with the introduction of a 'limited identification duty'. The concept proposal of april 1991 will be extended with soccer-games and freeriding in public transport. A legal obligation to carry identifica- tion is not proposed.
Besides the Bill on the Identification duty, the Bill Anony- mous Suspect is introduced, which means that someone who is suspected and is notable to identify him/herself, can be transported to the police station, for further investigation into their identity.

The final obstacles in parliament are cleared by the advice of the commission mr. G.J. Wiarda. This commission was asked by the previous cabinet to advise about the international juridi- cal sides of the introduction of a limited identification duty. The commission comes to the conclusion that the proposal is not in violation of article 8, paragraph 1 and 2, of the EVRM treaty, the European Treaty for Human Rights. The commis- sion Wiarda confined itself to those parts of the proposal which concern criminality-and fraudfighting by police, finan- cial institutions like banks and the relationship between employer and employee as well as the executive organs of public assistance, social support and taxes. The internal sur- veillance of foreigners and the identification duty on the workfloor, together with the obligation for an employer to have a copy of the identification papers of all employees in the administration, were not included.
The wide-scale social protest against the proposal is of no avail. The Bill on the Identification Duty (WID) is passed and in effect as of 1 june 1994.


As will have become clear there has not been chosen for a general identification duty. Because of the social and his- torical sensitivity (the personal card during the Second World War) there has been decided for a 'limited identification duty'. It is 'limited' in the respect that the obligation to identify is for certain specific situations.
Part of these obligations have a preventive character from the viewpoint of fighting fraud. At financial transactions and when applying for public assistance or a social-fiscal number an identity card has to be shown. This should lead to the prevention of social security and fiscal fraud. Another part of these obligations concerns freeriding in public transport. This also follows from the preventive character of the obliga- tion. A third point is the obligation to identify at high-risk professional soccergames. People can be obliged to identify themselves when they 'reasonably can be suspected to get involved in hooliganism'. Previously the identification duty of the internal surveillance of foreigners and the obligation to identify yourself with your employer, have been mentioned. The last obligation has as goal to make the labour market unaccessible to undocumented people, usually illegal foreigners.
The discussion in parliament is best illustrated by the atti- tude of the social-democrat PvdA. In 1992 PvdA-spokeswoman Kalsbeek said that the obligation to identify yourself at the place of work was "to absurd for words". Four months later she called it "a step in the right direction" and during the discussion in parliament the obligation of a copy in the employers administration, was entered in the last moment, on the initiative of, among others, Kalsbeek.

All these 'limited obligations' together, justify questioning the limitedness of the Bill all together. There are so many situations where identification can be asked, that it is easier to always carry it with you. The identification duty in view of the internal surveillance of foreigners and the obli- gation to identify at the place of work, in fact, create a general identification duty. Not everyone in the Netherlands will notice or bother this. It will especially be the coloured Dutch people who will have to identify themselves more often.

Surveillance of Foreigners

Control on presence of illegal foreigners is without doubt the most important element of the WID. Previous to the WID there was also a identification duty for foreigners at controls. The new thing about the WID is that Dutch people also have to identify themselves at controls on illegal foreigners. Dis- criminating police action would be prevented in this way. According to the regulations of the law this is in order that everyone is treated equally in the same situation. The ques- tion remains if everyone has the same chance of ending up in similar situations. It will be important how the Marechaussee and the police will be selecting for controls.

Part of the guidelines are put on paper. In the Vreemdelingen- circulaire (Vc), a kind of directive to interpret the Aliens Act, regulations are given for controls on illegal foreigners. These guidelines are the logical consequence of the policy of prosecution for 1994. To start with, the chance of finding illegals has to be realistic with the execution of controls. Therefor controls have to take place in 'places where normally there are many foreigners, like in coffeehouses or companies where many foreigners work'. This does not change much for the current situation. At the same time the existing tracing teams are extended with more manpower.

It is not unimportant to mention that the majority of the controls are not done on the basis of the Aliens act. Since 1992 a new Bill is in operation: The Bill Administrative Preservation Traffic Regulations also known as the Bill Mul- der. On the basis of this law, participants in traffic have to be able to identify themselves when committing a (minor) traffic offence. Refusal of this obligation is an offence itself, arrest and detention in a policecell can follow. Every participant in traffic always has to have identification with him/her or enough cash to pay the fine on the spot. An increa- sing number of detained illegals in the Netherlands have been arrested on the basis of this Bill.

The execution of controls in the place of work used to be a problem, since nobody had any papers on them. In the WID this is accounted for: the employees always have to be able to identify themselves. The employer is obliged to keep copies of the identity papers in the administration. This particularly has consequences for the practice of tracing and prosecution. The WID is the reason that massive raids, like the one in the distribution centre, of the chain of shops of Blokker, in which over a hundred men riot squad, a helicopter and dogs were used, are no longer necessary. The obligation to keep copies of identity papers in the administration, together with the increasing linkings of computersystems, provides easy control for small units, which in turn will lead to a lesser shock with the employees and less public outrage.

The situation after 1 june 1994

In comparison to the protest against the introduction of the WID, after the first of june 1994 a deafening silence is the only thing to be heard. Non of the organisations who previous- ly have been trying to stop the WID, is heard of. On the contrary, on the first of june 1994 the Stichting Waakzaamheid Persoonsregistratie (foundation vigilance personal registra- tion), the motor behind the protest, dissolves itself.

In the summer of 1994 the Autonoom Centrum (AC) starts the campaign "No ID, a good ID". The resistance of the eighties against the WID was a collective resistance. After the intro- duction it became an individual one. Quite soon we were asked if we were not a little too late fighting the identification duty. The Bill was already introduced and there would be no gain in trying to change things in the proposal. Probably a lot of people and organisations have wondered what it was we were trying to accomplish with our campaign. To put people up to civil disobedience? To talk people into feeling guilty? Or just being a nuisance?

With the national campaign we wanted to attract new attention to the negative consequences of the Bill for immigrants and to start a more broad discussion about the developments in the foreigners policy until then and the expected developments in the future.

It was decided that the campaign would be directed to people in the Netherlands who were working and whose employers would be obliged to keep copies in their administration. The AC called upon people to refuse to give a copy to their employer. The objective would not only be to let people really refuse, but to connect this with legal procedures against the WID and a proposal for a new law, the Linking Act.

Consequences of refusing

The WID obliges employers to enter information about the sort of identification, the number of it and a copy in their wage- administration before the first of june 1995. The employee is obliged to 'produce the document for inspection'. There is no mention of an obligation for employees to provide information or a copy. The employer who does not have the obliged data in his administration is liable to prosecution.
It will be clear that a strange situation had arisen in cases where someone showed their identity papers but refused to let information be copied or a copy be taken. Many employers have plainly demanded a copy and have placed refusing employees in the 'tariff for anonymous employees'. A lot of employees have given copies under the threat of this. The tariff for anony- mous employees is a special rategroup in the incometax, in which the taxfree part of income is not taken into consider- ation and 60% incometax is deducted of the total gross income. In plain language: your net-income is reduced by halve. In this way employees are punished for the incapacity of employers to have their administration in order.

The first action is sending a letter to 300, known to us as progressive, organisations and actiongroups. In the letter we ask employees, volunteers and other people concerned to refuse to cooperate with the identification duty and to inform others about the consequences of the Bill. In the light of the resis- tance of the eighties against the Bill -in 1986 20,000 people demonstrated against the passlaws- we expected some reaction. The groups we sent mail to, included anti-racism, anti-fas- cism, third world and refugeegroups and alternative companies. About ten groups reacted within some weeks. Together with a round of phonecalls this grew to 30, 10% of the total number.

The discharge of an employee of the University of Utrecht got more reactions. The number of people refusing, reporting to us, grew to over 300 in june 1995. The majority is working in areas where we used to have little contact with, like educa- tion and health care. The actual number of people refusing is estimated by us, to be somewhere near 10,000, many of the 300 known to us said they know people who also refused, at some company more then 100 people have refused.

Besides the attention in the media, especially individuals call us for information about the WID and the legal possibil- ities. After half a year the campaign is evaluated as rela- tively successful, both on the terrain of media-attention as with the number of people asking for information. This atten- tion slowly dissolves in the first months of 1995. In the run up to the first of june 1995, the number of people asking information gradually increases again. Refusing to cooperate between june 1994 and june 1995 is fairly without risk, no 60% tariff and in many cases a mild attitude of employers. On the 31st of may 1995 we attempt for the first time to organise an information-evening. An employee of the major labour union FNV announces that he will take his employer to court when they use the anonymous tariff.
But the FNV is not by itself, the Anne Frank foundation, an organisation one would expect to know about the consequences of the WID, co-editor of the Book "Identificatieplicht, het baat niet, maar het schaadt wel" (Identification duty, no help but a danger), straightens its back and forces their employees to give a copy of their identification papers.

You can find the rest off the article under the same title with the extension part 2