Dutch veil ban legislation criticised by government advisory body

Draft legislation aimed at banning burkas in the Netherlands has been heavily criticised by the government’s most important advisory body and needs significant amendments, news agency ANP reports, citing regional newspapers.

The GPD papers, who base their claim on sources in The Hague, say the Council of State delivered its recommendations to the home affairs ministry in November, but the legislation is only due to be sent to parliament this week – eight weeks later.

The Council of State has given the draft law “one of the most critical judgments possible”, ANP says. Estimates of how many women wear a burka in the Netherlands range from a handful to around 100.

Introducing the ban last year, the then home affairs minister Piet Hein Donner compared wearing the all-encompassing Islamic garment to walking around naked. Both conflict with “Dutch norms and manners” Donner said. Donner will take up his new role as deputy chairman of the Council of State next month.

The draft legislation cannot be withdrawn because a ban on the burka is included in the coalition agreement struck between the minority cabinet and the anti-Islam PVV.

Efforts by the PVV two years ago to introduce a ban were described then by the Council of State as discriminatory and conflicting with the right to freedom of religion. That resulted in the draft legislation being amended to cover all “face-covering garments”.

Dutch News, 24 January 2012