Privacy First position on curfew
In the fight against corona, the outgoing cabinet is threatening to introduce a curfew this week. Today, Privacy First sent an appeal to the House of Representatives about this.
This week, the Netherlands is at a historic human rights crossroads: will a national curfew be reintroduced for the first time since World War II?
Privacy First considers such a far-reaching, generic measure in almost any situation far from necessary and disproportionate. Moreover, its effectiveness in combating coronavirus is as yet unknown. For this reason alone, the legally required social necessity of a curfew cannot exist. A curfew could also be counterproductive, as it damages the mental and (thus) physical health of large groups in society. Besides, a curfew in the Netherlands constitutes yet another step towards surveillance society. The use of lighter, targeted and more effective measures is then always preferable. Should a curfew nevertheless be introduced, in Privacy First's view it constitutes a massive violation of the right to privacy and freedom of movement.
Privacy First therefore calls on the House of Representatives to prevent this and block the introduction of a curfew.
Update 17 February 2021
this week, the District Court of The Hague in summary proceedings did a groundbreaking statement by ruling that the curfew was wrongly introduced under the Extraordinary Civil Powers Act. The current curfew is thus unlawful. Moreover, the court ruled that there are "major question marks about the State's factual substantiation of the necessity of the curfew. (...) Before a far-reaching restriction such as a curfew is introduced, it must be clear that no other, less far-reaching measures are left open and that the introduction of the curfew will actually have a substantial effect," the court said, which was not convinced of this. In addition, the court raised the question of why an urgent (but voluntary) curfew had not been chosenadvice. The court also noted "that, by its own admission, the OMT has no evidence that the curfew makes a substantial contribution to reducing the virus." E.g. "makes the State's contention that a curfew is inevitable at least debatable and also not very convincingly justified," the court said. (See judgment, ro. 4.12-4.14.)
The Hague court's ruling is in line with Privacy First's earlier position. Privacy First hopes that this will be confirmed on appeal by the Hague Court of Appeal and that it will also lead to rejection of the curfew by the Senate and House of Representatives.