THE FACTS

Whereas the facts of the case as presented by the Applicant may be
summarised as follows:

The Applicant is a Netherlands citizen, born in 1917 and at present
living at Oldebrock.

1. His complaints concern the activities which are being exercised
in the field of agriculture by an organisation called the Agricultural
Corporation (landbouwschap). He states that this organisation has been
given considerable power as regards agricultural policy and constitutes
an oppression for the farmers.

2. The legal basis of the system criticised by the Applicant is the
Act on the Economic Organisation (Wet op de Bedrijfsorganisatie).
According to this Act, a body called the Social-Economic Council
(Sociaal-Economische Raad) has been entrusted with certain functions
in respect of the organisation of the economic life in the Netherlands
and, in addition, the Act provides that special corporations can be
set up for a number of enterprises which either perform similar
functions or perform different functions in respect of the same
products. Such corporations have the task of serving the common
interests of the enterprises for which they have been set up and they
have been given competence to exercise public authority in various
respects and are frequently characterised as "economic organisations
under public law" (publiekrechtelijke bedrijfsorganisaties).

3. In the field of agriculture, the Agricultural Corporation against
which the Applicant directs his complaints was set up on 16th February,
1954 according to the provisions of the Act on the Economic
Organisation.

In the Applicant's opinion, the Agricultural Corporation is not a
democratic body since the farmers in general have had little or no
influence on its composition.

In this respect, he points out that, according to the Act on the
Economic Organisation, a corporation of this kind is to be set up
by Royal Decree on the advice of the Social-Economic Council provided
that this advice is consistent with the opinion stated by
representatives of the employers and the employees concerned. However,
the members of the Social-Economic Council are appointed partly by the
Government and partly by organisations which the Government designates,
and the Applicant concludes that in reality the Council is, in respect
of economic policy, merely an organ of the Government.

Moreover, the Council decides itself which organisations it should
hear before advising the Government to set up a corporation. Before
giving its advice regarding the constitution of the Agricultural
Corporation, the Council consulted the Foundation for Agriculture
(Stichting voor de Landbouw) which, in the Applicant's opinion, is not
a body representative of the farmers.

The Applicant concludes that the Agricultural Corporation was set
up without any previous consultation of the farmers themselves and
that therefore it cannot be considered to function on a democratic
basis.

4. As to the organisation of the Agricultural Corporation, the
Applicant states that the chairman is appointed by the Government and
that the 24 members of the board are nominated by six organisations
which have been approved by the Government and the Social-Economic
Council and which are in fact closely connected with the Government.
However, those farmers who are not organised or are members of other
organisations than those approved by the Government, have no influence
on the appointment of the board.

Nevertheless, the Agricultural Corporation exercises far-reaching
public functions in regard to the farmers. It levies taxes on them
and spends tax money without any control by the farmers. Its board
may meet in camera and is responsible to no one and is controlled
by no one.

Those who are members of one of the organisations approved by the
Government are allowed to deduct the amount of their contributions
to their organisation from the tax which they have to pay to the
Agricultural Corporation and the result is that the other farmers pay
to that Corporation higher taxes than are paid by those farmers who are
organised according to the Government's wishes.

The Corporation has a certain legislative power over the farmers.
It is competent to issue ordinances and the Applicant refers, in
particular, to an ordinance according to which the farmers are obliged
to make annual declarations regarding all important data as to their
farms.  The Applicant states that in fact the Corporation wishes to
"liquidate" certain farmers and turn their farms into collectives,
and he suggests that for this purpose the annual declarations might
be useful to the Corporation.

The Applicant states that he and many other farmers find the system
described above contrary to their conscience and convictions and that
therefore they refuse to submit annual declarations regarding their
farms. The result is that these farmers are sentenced every year,
by a special judge competent in regard to economic offences, to a
fine or, as a subsidiary penalty, to imprisonment. As many of these
farmers do not wish to pay their fines voluntarily, they are actually
put into prison. Such sentences are pronounced in accordance with
the Act on Economic Offenses (Wet op de Economische Delicten). Under
its provisions, a number of acts can be punished although, in the
Applicant's opinion, they are not considered by public opinion to
be punishable. Moreover, the rights of the accused under this Act
have been reduced; the Applicant mentions, in particular, that the
right to lodge an appeal in cassation is more restricted than in regard
to other offences.

Against the decisions of the Agricultural Corporation, an
administrative appeal is available to a special Appeals Board (College
van Beroep voor het Bedrijfsleven), composed of three professional
judges and two special judges nominated by the Corporation which is
concerned in each particular case. Moreover, the Government has
reserved the right to set aside the decisions of the Appeals Board.
Consequently, the Appeals Board cannot, in the Applicant's opinion, be
considered an impartial and independent body.

The Applicant goes on to describe various measures by the Agricultural
Corporation by which farmers have been deprived of money or other
property. In particular, he states that farmers have been forced
to leave their farms for non-payment of small sums of money and he
mentions, as an example, that in March 1963 families of three farmers
were forced by the Agricultural Corporation to leave their farms;
according to the Applicant this action was performed with the
assistance of armed soldiers who used tear-gas.

The Applicant submits that, in respect of his refusal to submit annual
declarations, he was last convicted on ... 1963 by the Police Court
at Zwolle and sentenced to a fine or, subsidiarily, to detention.
His appeal in cassation was rejected on ... 1963 by the Supreme Court.

5. He alleges violations of

- Article 3 of the Convention, in that, in the framework of the system
  described above, acts are punished which are not "felt" as punishable
  and that families are forced to leave their land by reason of small
  debts;
- Article 4 of the Convention, in that the system complained of implies
  that an entire class of people is mastered by a small group which
  is favoured by the Government and whose exercise of power is subject
  to no control;
- Article 5 of the Convention, in that this system implies the
  annihilation of the personal freedom of those who fall under the
  power of the Agricultural Corporation;
- Article 6 of the Convention, in that the penal procedure referred
  to above deviates from what is generally prescribed in regard to such
  procedure, and this to the detriment of the accused;
- Article 8 of the Convention, in that the private life of the farmers
  is not respected;
- Article 11 of the Convention, in that the farmers are placed under
  the power of a corporation dominated by a number of associations
  which support one another and are approved by the Government, in
  particular as these associations enjoy special benefits by reason of
  the system of deduction of contributions as described above;
- Article 13 of the Convention, in that there has proved to be no way
  of redress, although the Applicant has appealed to the Courts;
- Article 14 of the Convention, in that the Applicant, as a result of
  the fact that he does not wish to be a member of any of the
  associations approved by the Government, is not granted the rights
  and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention;
- Article 1 of the Protocol, in that the system of deduction of
  contributions violates the right of property of those who are not
  allowed such deduction.

THE LAW

Whereas the Commission observes that, in the examination of the
Applicant's various allegations, due regard must be had to the fact
that the Agricultural Corporation and the Social-Economic Council are
part of an elaborate system for organising effectively the economic
life of the country;

Whereas there is nothing to show that this system is contrary to
the Convention;  whereas, in particular, there is not, in the present
case, any appearance of a violation of Articles 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11,
13 and 14 (Art. 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 13, 14) of the Convention or
Article 1 of the Protocol (P1-1) as specially complained of by the
Applicant;

Whereas it follows that the present Application is manifestly
ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27, paragraph (2)
(Art. 27-2), of the Convention.

Now therefore the Commission declares this Application inadmissible.