Dutch State not to remove anti-Verdonk banners

24th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

24 November 2005, AMSTERDAM — A court in Amsterdam has ruled the authorities must no longer remove banners and posters that allege Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is partially responsible for the deaths of 11 deportees in the Schiphol detention centre fire.

24 November 2005

AMSTERDAM — A court in Amsterdam has ruled the authorities must no longer remove banners and posters that allege Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is partially responsible for the deaths of 11 deportees in the Schiphol detention centre fire.

The poster in question

The judgement on Thursday refers specifically to a poster on a building used by political activists in Nijmegen. The poster read: Reisbureau Rita, arrestatie, deportatie, crematie, adequaat tot het bittere eind.

This translate as, "Travel agency Rita, arrest, deportation, cremation. Adequate to the bitter end".

It is a reference to Verdonk's claim in Parliament that staff at the detention centre performed "very adequately" as they attempted to get inmates out of the burning cell complex in October. Eleven foreign nationals scheduled for deportation suffocated in the fire.

Another 11 inmates managed to escape during the confusion. Six were quickly recaptured, but the remaining five, including 30-year-old Mustafa A., have not been traced. New programme 'Nova' alleged on Wednesday that A. is suspected of involvement in terrorism.

Posters and banners accusing Verdonk of complicity in the deaths at the detention centre have appeared in several cities.

Amsterdam City Council was involved in Thursday's case as Mayor Job Cohen ordered the removal of several an-Verdonk banners. The court, however, did not make a judgement in relation to Amsterdam after the Public Prosecutor's Office in the capital gave a commitment to temporarily suspend the removal of banners thought to be libellous.

Cohen had initially ordered the banners be removed because he felt there was a "threatening atmosphere" surrounding Verdonk. The minister has filed a police complaint and alleged she is aggrieved by the accusations.

The judge acknowledged that the removal of the poster in the Nijmegen case was an encroachment on the freedom of expression. "The design and text of the poster expresses the anger and unrest about the deaths of the 11 detained foreigners in the fire at the cell complex in Schiphol-Oost", the judgement said.

"The dead people were totally dependent on the care of the State for their safety. Great unrest has been caused in society because of this event," the judge said.

As long as it is not proven that everything possible was done to save the detainees, the judge said, one could express the opinion that the State had seriously failed in its duty.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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