Dutch news in brief, Monday 18 May 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Probo Koala contained waste toxic: report
While most papers Monday lead with the news of the Tamil Tigers' surrender in Sri Lanka, de Volkskrant reports on a Dutch story with international connections.
The paper has got hold of a copy of a confidential Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) analysis of the waste which was on board the Probo Koala. The analysis, made in July 2006 when the ship was anchored in Amsterdam, indicates that hydrogen sulphide, a highly poisonous substance, was present in the waste.
The Probo Koala, owned by the Dutch-British oil trader Trafigura, finally dumped the waste in Ivory Coast in August 2006. It is claimed that 10 ten people died and thousands became sick after coming into contact with it.
Trafigura, presently fighting a compensation case in London, claimed the waste was not toxic. It said this conclusion is "supported by independent statements from experts".
The NFI analysis has not been released as a Dutch case against Trafigura is not due to come to court before 2010.
MPs fury at PM's refusal to meet Dalai Lama
De Telegraaf reports MPs are furious with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende for refusing to meet the Dalai Lama when he visits the Netherlands in June despite a parliamentary majority who called on Balkenende to be part of the official welcome greeting the Tibetan spiritual leader.
However, Balkenende thinks his presence would "form an unjustified risk to relations with China".
The mass-circulation paper quotes Gert Wilders leader of the right-wing Freedom Party.
"If he is serious on human rights, he shouldn't suck up to the Chinese," he taunted.
Minister to probe Pentecostal HIV healings
The protestant daily Trouw reports health minister Ab Klink has decided to launch in investigation into HIV/AIDS 'healings' in certain Pentecostal churches which serve the Dutch-Surinamese and Antillean communities.
In 2008, the minister resisted pressure to hold an inquiry, citing freedom of religion. He now said he wants to find out for certain whether "those who perform the HIV-healings deny patients access to regular health care".
Mikel Haman, a Dutch-Surinamese, alerted Trouw back in September that such 'healings' of homosexuals and HIV-positive people were taking place. He is pleased the minister is now taking action.
"At last, the government is taking the reports seriously," he said.
Asparagus slaves at work in Brabant
Nrc.next covers a story of slavery at an asparagus farm in Brabant in the south of the Netherlands.
When the farm was closed down on Friday for contravening fire regulations, about 50 people, mainly Romanians, were found to be working there under appalling conditions.
They earned just EUR 5 per hour, were not allowed off the site and had to buy overpriced food and other necessities from the women who owns the business.
Local Mayor Alfred Veltman said the workers were treated like slaves: "...on Friday, it surfaced how dreadful their conditions were."
The workers were forced to sleep in dirty, windowless buildings.
"At night, the doors were locked. They would have been stuck like rats in a trap had there been a fire," said the mayor.
Some workers also told the police they were subject to beatings.
More women bodyguards needed
The AD says the head of the Royal and Diplomatic Security Service (DKDB), Dick Pijl, has signalled a recruitment drive for women bodyguards.
At present, only six of about 300 DKDB workers are female.
While Pijl admitted VIP bodyguards "have the image of just being bruisers", he argued "there is far more observation than brute force involved in providing personal security."
He believes women "perhaps have better communication skills" and "are also necessary to prevent a macho culture" in the service.
He also thinks some women VIPs prefer having female bodyguards.
"We also need women because the combination of men and women is tactically better and less conspicuous. A single man is more noticeable than a couple".
Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica