Europe

Dutch 'burqa ban' unworkable on first day as police, transport refuse to enforce it

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A day after the controversial law came into effect, concerns are being raised about how it will be enforced.

A day after a controversial ban on the wearing of face-coverings, including the burqa or niqab, came into force in The Netherlands concerns are being raised about how it will be enforced after police said it was not a priority. 

The Partial Ban on Face-Covering Clothing Act prevents the wearing of veils in public buildings, such as schools and hospitals and on public transport, but it does not cover the street.

A person wearing a head-covering will be given the option to remove the item or face a $244 fine.

A woman wearing a niqab pushes a baby stroller on snow-covered streets in Amsterdam.
A woman wearing a niqab pushes a baby stroller on snow-covered streets in Amsterdam.
AAP

But a statement from Dutch police announced the responsibility of enforcing compliance with the new law rests with employees of the institution, including public transport workers, has given rise to concerns.

Employees are expected to address offenders, inform them about the prohibition and request them to remove the face-covering or leave the venue, the statement reads.

Representatives of medical centres and the public transport industry have reportedly said the responsibility for the enforcement of the law did not lie with employees but with the police.

According to The Guardian, transport companies said they would not ask their staff on trains, metros, trams or buses to enforce the law.

Fears have also been raised that the law will mean Muslim women avoid seeking out health care and dissuade them from entering public spaces. There are also concerns that it will lead to increased violence towards Muslim women as people attempt to undertake citizen arrests.

The law will be reviewed in three years, two-years earlier than is usually the case, according to local media.

Between 200 and 400 women are estimated to wear a burqa or niqab in the country of 17 million people.

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