Dutch squatting ban

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Dutch squatting ban
PoliceProtesters amsterdam squat ban.jpg
Protesters confront police in Amsterdam over the squatting ban
Date1 October 2010 (2010-10-01)

The Dutch squatting ban refers to the law (Dutch: Wet Kraken en Leegstand) introduced on 1 October 2010, under which squatting in the Netherlands became de jure illegal. Criminalization had first been proposed in the 1970s, but was opposed by the Council of Churches. In 2006, a new plan was proposed and backed by parties including VVD and PVV. When the new law was introduced, squatters occupied the former head office of the fire brigade and there were riots in Amsterdam and Nijmegen. In 2011, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled that the legally forced end of squatting can only occur after an intervention of a judge. Between October 2010 and December 2014, 529 people were arrested for the act of occupying derelict buildings, in 213 separate incidents as a result of which 39 people were jailed.

History[edit]

Squatting ban sign

In 1978, the Council of Churches launched a protest which scotched a proposal to criminalise squatting. In June 2006, ministers Sybilla Dekker and Piet Hein Donner from the Dutch government proposed a plan to criminalise squatting.[1][2] Other ministers, such as Alexander Pechtold, were not in favour. Representatives of the four largest Dutch cities wrote a letter stating that it would not be in their interests to proceed with a ban.[3] Squatters nationwide made banners, hanging them on their squats in protest.[4][5]

Criminalization[edit]

Several parties, notably the VVD party, were vocal critics of squatting. Backed by the leader of the PVV, Geert Wilders, they moved to outlaw squatting.[6] The new squatting ban was passed by the House of Representatives on 15 October 2009 and the Senate on 1 June 2010, and became law on 1 October 2010. The penalty is one year's imprisonment or more, if violence is involved.[7] Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan, and police commissioner Leen Schaap stated their joint intention to clear roughly 200 of 300 squats in Amsterdam, and to treat squatting as a criminal offence.[8] There were estimated to be 1,500 squatters in Amsterdam.[6] Sociologist E.T.C. Dee observes that there was a moral panic generated in the Dutch media regarding three accusations made by the police concerning booby traps and weapons caches in the squats of Amsterdam. Thus the squatters' movement was seen as increasingly violent and needing to be regulated.[9]

Reactions[edit]

Riot police charging protesters (original size version)

Squatting became a criminal offence at midnight on 1 October 2010, passing from the civil courts to the criminal courts. In Amsterdam, squatters had previously occupied the former headquarters of the Dutch fire brigade in protest.[10] In a press release, the squatters announced on 30 September that they would be handing the building at 99 Weesperzijde over to tenants arranged by the landlord.[11] On the last weekend in September, squatters had camped out on the Dam Square overnight as a protest.[10]

On the day itself, there was a demonstration in Amsterdam numbering 100–300 people by various estimates.[6][12] As evening came, a riot began. The police charged the demonstration and protesters responded by throwing stones and vandalising cars. The police used tear gas and elven squatters were arrested. Two police officers and three police horses were injured.[12] Protesters built ad hoc street barricades from metal fences and bicycles.[7][13] There was also a riot in Nijmegen.[14]

Post-criminalization[edit]

On 28 October 2011, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands decided that the legally forced end of squatting can only occur after an intervention of a judge.[15] The Dutch government assessed the effectiveness of the new law in 2015, releasing a report giving statistics on arrests and convictions between October 2010 and December 2014. During this time period, 529 people have been arrested for the act of occupying derelict buildings in 213 separate incidents. Of the 529 arrests, 210 were found guilty. Of those convicted, 39 people were imprisoned for the new offence.[16]

The mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema called for stricter treatment of squatters in 2019. That year in Amsterdam, 74 squats had been officially recorded, of which 67 had been evicted.[17] Squatters marked the ten year anniversary of the squatting ban on 1 October 2020 in a national campaign placing banners and posters on long-term empty places. In Utrecht, a banner was hung at a building on Burgemeester Reigerstraat which had been evicted in 2019.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kraken wordt strafbaar". Nu.nl. 16 March 2010. Archived from the original on 12 November 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  2. ^ Letter to Minister Dekker from four main cities Archived 8 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Grote steden tegen verbod op kraken". Nu.nl. 16 March 2010. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  4. ^ van Keken, Kim (16 June 2006). "Veroordeling wegens harde actie staat niet zo mooi op je cv". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 3 October 2020. Overal in het land hangen spandoeken op (voormalige) kraakpanden.
  5. ^ "Landelijke spandoekenaktie kraakverbod". Indymedia.nl. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "Violent protests after Dutch outlaw squatting - Once-respected tradition of living in unused buildings is now a crime". NBC News. 30 April 1980. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b "BBC News report on squatter protests". Bbc.co.uk. 2 October 2010. Archived from the original on 31 July 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Squatting in Amsterdam". DutchAmsterdam.nl. Archived from the original on 27 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  9. ^ Dee, E.T.C. (2016). "The Production of Squatters as Folk Devils: Analysis of a Moral Panic that Facilitated the Criminalization of Squatting in the Netherlands". Deviant Behavior. 37 (7): 784–794. doi:10.1080/01639625.2016.1145019. S2CID 147421606.
  10. ^ a b "Oud-hoofdkantoor brandweer Amsterdam gekraakt". Het Parool (in Dutch). ANP. 26 September 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  11. ^ Actie Comité Amsterdamse Boefjes (30 September 2010). "Krakers dragen voormalig kantoor brandweer Amsterdam over aan huurders". Kraakmeer. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Agenten, paarden en krakers gewond" [Agents, horses and squatters wounded]. AT5 Nieuws (in Dutch). Amsterdam. 1 October 2010. Archived from the original on 2 January 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  13. ^ "Squatters riot in Amsterdam". Stuff.co.nz. 2 October 2010. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  14. ^ Vugts, Paul (4 October 2010). "Strijd krakers verhardt". Het Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  15. ^ Dee, E.T.C. (2016). "The Production of Squatters as Folk Devils: Analysis of a Moral Panic that Facilitated the Criminalization of Squatting in the Netherlands". Deviant Behavior. 37 (7): 784–794. doi:10.1080/01639625.2016.1145019. S2CID 147421606.
  16. ^ "The vacancy crunch: The current housing crisis in the Netherlands and the repression of squatting". CNS Blog. 14 May 2016. Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  17. ^ Koops, Ruben (17 December 2019). "Halsema kondigt strenger kraakbeleid aan". Het Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  18. ^ Redactie (1 October 2020). "Krakers hangen spandoek op aan panden Burgemeester Reigerstraat". De Utrechtse Internet Courant. Archived from the original on 3 October 2020. Retrieved 3 October 2020.