On 11 October, a complaint was filed with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on behalf of Emiel de Bruijne for the violation of his right to identity. De Bruijne was born in East-Jeruzalem en was only able to register his country of birth in the Personal Records Database (in Dutch: Basisregistratie Personen, BRP) as ‘Israel’ or ‘Unknown’. This failed to appreciate his Palestinian identity.

De Bruijne has been trying to amend his registration since 2010. For that purpose, he followed an administrative procedure from 2014 onwards. The Council of State rendered its on 10 April 2018, and superfluously gave the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations the instruction to amend the registration. As no timely reaction came in spite of repeated requests, De Bruijne was forced to file the aforementioned complaint with the ECtHR. In the meantime, a reaction was given in the form of answers to questions asked in parliament by the political parties SP and D66. In this answer, State Secretary Knops of the Ministry of Interior gave word that Palestinian Dutchmen would soon be able to register themselves with ‘Gaza Strip’ and ‘West Bank, including East-Jeruzalem’ as country of birth.

In the media, the impression has been given that the ECtHR-complaint has therefore been resolved. That is not the case. Though the proposal by the State Secretary is a step in the right direction, the proposed registration is still at odds with De Bruijne’s right to identity. Because the word ‘Palestine’ is fearfully avoided in the proposed registration, the proposed amendment does no justice to his identity.  Both the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice have repeatedly determined that the areas referred to by the State Secretary are (occupied) Palestinian Territories. This international legal determination has been endorsed by the Netherlands and is also used by the Dutch government itself. Therefore, it is difficult to see why this current and legally correct description has not been chosen, particularly since there was already talk of including ‘(occupied) Palestinian Territory’ in the BRP in 2012.  For De Bruijne and many other Palestinians living in the Netherlands, the refusal to include ‘(occupied) Palestinian Territories’ in the BRP still amounts to a denial of their identity.

As such, De Bruijne sees no reason to withdraw his ECtHR-complaint in light of the recent change in policy.

De Bruijne is represented in the ECtHR-procedure by lawyer Tom de Boer.


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