“You can wonder whether this decision is sufficiently substantiated,” says lawyer Jaap Baar. He was surprised at the letter from the cabinet. “People seem to want to ban him mainly because of what he announces. Public order is mentioned in this, but it seems to be mainly about the content of what he says.”
Not without reason
According to Baar, the cabinet has opted for this motivation because they cannot refuse Icke based on what he says. “It is of course not the case that other people, such as the Dutch, who make similar statements or adhere to theories are massively persecuted here or are deprived of the word.”
“There are very specific grounds for refusing or no longer admitting someone to the Schengen area, and danger to public order is one of them,” adds lawyer Baar.
No concrete disruption
But the question is whether the government can sufficiently demonstrate this danger that Icke may be causing. “There is no legal description of public order, but case law shows that quite strict requirements are set,” says Baar.
“The letter does mention dangers of public order disturbances, but these are all things that could possibly happen. I do not see a concrete disturbance there.”
Freedom of speech
In addition, the government is obliged to ensure that opinions that cause a stir can take place in, for example, demonstrations and manifestations, ‘because freedom of expression is so highly valued’, says Baar.
“Only if you can really say: safety cannot be guaranteed, then that can be a reason to ban or limit a manifestation,” he explains. “But in principle that should not be the content of what is said.”
The organization of the demonstration at which Icke would speak, wants to contest the ruling. Baar thinks summary proceedings with a chance of success. “On the basis of European Union law, it must always be considered whether less drastic measures are sufficient.”
He continues: “And you can then ask yourself whether such a decision in which he is denied access for a period of 2 years can pass that test. Because the question then is: should it be done for 2 years and should it be a general restriction on entry into the Schengen area?”
Still, the question is whether the organization’s challenge will be successful. “At the moment we can’t find a lawyer who wants to do it,” said Mordechaï Krispijn, one of the organizers of the demonstration. “There are lawyers who have reported to us, but with the message that they are afraid for their reputation.”
An undesirable event, Baar thinks. “We certainly shouldn’t normalize these statements, but we also have to avoid falling into a sliding scale of what is and isn’t allowed in free speech, and who decides that.”
Read More: This lawyer doubts the sustainability of the decision that David Icke is no longer allowed to enter the Netherlands