Dutch news in brief, Friday 18 September 2009

18th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Judge finds cannabis plantation in his house
Imagine the surprise when a judge discovered that a house he was letting was being used to grow cannabis.

AD reports in his younger years, Judge Herman Harmeijer spent six years tackling drug crime as a public prosecutor. He participated in a special drug unit and solved several drug smuggling cases.
Up to now the judge is not being treated as a suspect. He reported the matter to the police himself when he discovered the plantation. He only went to the house after the tenant stopped paying rent. The tenant, who has vanished without a trace, had been illegally tapping electricity for the intense lighting of the plants.

Neighbours were shocked especially as their electricity supply was no longer earthed. “It’s a wonder no-one got electrocuted,” said the local mayor.

Should we trust the authorities with our biometric details?
On Monday anyone applying for a passport or identity card in the Netherlands will be required to give their fingerprints. The prints of four fingers will then be stored on a database, which will be centralised at a later date. Two of the fingerprints will be put on a chip in the passport.

Up to now the Netherlands is the only European Union member state to have approved the centralised storage of fingerprints, going further than European rules prescribe.

However, as the new passport act was drawn up in 2004 when fear of terrorism was high, various authorities ranging from the civil service to the Dutch intelligence agency will all have access to the finger prints.

NRC.next asks the question of trusting the authorities with our biometric details.

Head of the Dutch Data Protection Agency, Jacob Kohnstamm, said the situation is a “serious violation of privacy, because the data of non-suspects will also be on the database”.

He pointed out that faith in biometrics as an infallible method to identify someone is too high. Many people shrug their shoulders at the prospect of giving fingerprints and say they have nothing to hide. But Annemarie Sprokkereef from the University of Tilburg said the error margins may seem low at three percent, but once millions of people are in the system that is a large number of potential mistakes.

The Deputy Justice Minister Anke Bijleveld stressed that the fingerprints will only be used to establish the identity of a suspect and not to trace anyone whose fingerprints are found at the scene of a crime. But she did not rule out the possibility that this could change under the next government.

Vrijbit, an organisation for the right to digital privacy, has taken the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, as many experts believe the central storage of biometric details is against the European Treaty for Human Rights.

 Dutch war commemorations not a thing of the past
The commemorations of various anniversaries of World War I and II are still going strong in the Netherlands, according to Trouw.

During the next nine months, ceremonies will be held to mark the 65 years since the liberation of the Netherlands and 70 years since the German invasion.

The season kicked off with a service at the Airborne graveyard in Oosterbeek Friday. And on Sunday elderly veterans will travel from all corners of the world to pay their respects to their comrades who fell during the Battle of Arnhem. Apparently there is no lack of host families to put them up.
In the Netherlands there are only three surviving veterans from the First World War.

Strangely up until the 1950s, there was hardly any attention paid to commemorating the world wars. But people soon made up for this in the 1970s and 1980s.

Historian Chris van der Heijden tells the paper that as the veterans die, the character of the ceremonies will change. Nowadays “when people commemorate the war, they are celebrating their freedom and wealth”.

Since 2001, the Airborne Commemoration Foundation has organised youth conferences entitled “Bridge to the Future” during commemoration week. This week the theme was “respect”.

Former beauty queen wants to clear up beauty pageants’ mess
Former Miss Universe Netherlands, Kim Kotter, is a woman with a mission, reports AD.

She is determined to unravel the confusion caused by having three different national beauty competitions in the Netherlands.

Up until 1989, there was just one Miss Holland title up for grabs. The winner would go on to enter both Miss World and Miss Universe.

Angela Visser was the last Miss Holland to participate in both pageants. As she won the Miss Universe title, commercial Dutch television stations continued to broadcast the new Miss Netherlands and the Miss Universe Netherlands competitions which succeeded Miss Holland for a few years. It was thought there are two international titles which matter, so the Netherlands can cope with two national pageants.
However, when Miss Netherlands lost its license to send its winner to Miss World, a third title was conjured up: Miss World Netherlands. As a result the winners of the various beauty competitions have become anonymous and none of the competitions have been broadcast for some time.

One beauty queen even went as far as to appear naked in Playboy to get a bit of attention, against all the rules. She promptly lost her title.

Kotter tells the paper: “It’s time we are proud of one beautiful Miss Holland again.”

Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica

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