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The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliamentary legislative system. The Prime Minister and a Cabinet representing the governing political parties (traditionally a coalition of at least two major parties) exercise executive authority. The judiciary is independent.
Regional police forces are primarily responsible for maintaining internal security. The civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces. There were no reports that security forces committed human rights abuses.
The market-based economy was export oriented and featured a mixture of industry, services, and agriculture. The country had a population of approximately 16.2 million. Living standards and the level of social benefits were high. Unemployment was approximately 5.4 percent, with an additional 10 percent of the workforce on full or partial disability. Long-term unemployment, particularly among ethnic minorities, remained a problem.
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provided effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. Discrimination and some violence against minorities continued to be a concern. Trafficking in women and girls for prostitution was a problem. The Government took steps to deal with all of these problems.
Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles are two autonomous regions of the Kingdom; they also feature parliamentary systems and full constitutional protection of human rights. In practice, respect for human rights in these islands generally was the same as in the Netherlands; however, the islands' prison conditions remained substandard.
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