In his report of 15 October 2014, the Dutch National Ombudsman has ruled that the arrest of artists Quinsy Gario and Jerry Afriyie at the annual public arrival ceremony of “Sinterklaas” in 2011 in Dordrecht was unlawful, disproportionately violent and in violation of their human rights.

Lawyer Tomasz Kodrzycki filed a complaint with the National Ombudsman about the arrest of Gario and Afriyie as a result of wearing T-shirts that read "Zwarte Piet is Racisme" (Black Pete is Racism) at the national public event of Sinterklaas' arrival in Dordrecht in 2011. The figure of “Zwarte Piet” is the traditional manservant of Sinterklaas. He is traditionally portrayed as a not-so-bright Moorish servant from the 19th century, and is played by actors in blackface.

The Ombudsman ruled that the police 'has violated the requirement that fundamental rights have to be respected' which notably included freedom of speech.

Furthermore, the arrest was deemed both unlawful and disproportionately violent.

Moreover, the police acted unprofessionally by asking Gario and Afriyie the following questions during their interrogation: 'Were you born in the Netherlands?', 'What is your ethnicity that you want to ask attention for this issue?', and 'Do you not consider Sinterklaas to be part of a tradition?' The Ombudsman: 'The fact that a police officer disagree with the stated opinion of a suspect, does not mean that the police officer can voice that sentiment during questioning.'

Click here for the report (Dutch only).


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Prakken d'Oliveira, formerly known as Böhler, is a law firm with expertise and experience in asylum and immigration law, European law, administrative law, international criminal law and human rights. Our lawyers provide advice and conduct procedures before the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), the Dutch Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services (CTIVD), the District- and Appeals courts, the Administrative Law Division of the Dutch Council of State, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), the Human Rights Treaty Bodies of the United Nations (UN), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and other international tribunals.