RNW Press Review -Tuesday, 26 February 2008
A roundup of today's press by Radio Netherlands.
RNW Press Review -Tuesday, 26 February 2008 by Mike Wilcox
Today is one of those days when the Dutch papers all have different ideas about what constitutes front-page news.
De Volkskrant covers a report from the Council for the Application of Criminal Law and Youth Protection (quite a mouthful that). It says most defendants branded 'untreatable' by the courts should not be classified as such. Their detention in high-security, long-stay units is, in effect, a form of life sentence which no longer includes any form of therapy. The government is being advised to scrap the present sentencing policy.
Prior to 2005, such defendants had to undergo therapy for six years in clinics before being moved to long-stay units. A number of incidents in which violent inmates re-offended during leave from secure clinics led to the policy being tightened. One of the authors of the report says: "There are not so many psychopathic murderers. Lots of 'long-stayers' just can't live independently....They need to be looked after, not kept by guards behind barbed wire."
The AD devotes much of its front page to education ministry plans to allow educational institutes to ban students whose behaviour makes them unfit for their future professions. The move comes in response to a request from the universities themselves and would also affect further education colleges.
A university spokesman explains: "Of course, it will only be in exceptional circumstances, for example, a medical student who can't keep his hands to himself, or a fraudulent student lawyer. As the law now stands, nothing can be done in such situations."
Trouw surprised me this morning. It leads with the news that pregnant women will soon be able to demand treatment for pain during labour and delivery. It seems that, up to now, the decision lay with the medical team. The problem has for the most part been technical. Surprisingly, some hospitals simply lack the staff to administer epidurals at night and during the weekend.
In other countries, treatment for pain during labour is standard procedure. In the Netherlands, a woman's right to insist on pain relief is new. A gynaecologist tells us: "We hope to work with this principle nationwide. But there'll still be many women who won't want to be treated for pain."
In its lead domestic story, nrc.next reports that an asylum for the homeless in a working-class suburb in the southern Dutch city of Den Bosch has been burnt to the ground. The local authorities suspect the destruction of the 'junkies' hostel' was arson. Local residents were celebrating on the streets, "We've won!", their overriding chant. The paper finds the jubilation shocking, and points out that the decision to open the hostel in the neighbourhood was a democratic one.
However, a professor of criminology is not surprised by the local reaction. He says that if it was arson, it fits in with a pattern of residents in such districts taking direct action against this sort of development. The paper quotes a local woman: "You shouldn't take the law into your own hands. But, to put junkies so close to children, they shouldn't do that," she says.
Glancing at the front page of the mass-circulation De Telegraaf, you might get the wrong impression from its banner headline, "Legal advice from call girls". You could be forgiven for thinking that members of the oldest profession are diversifying in the face of Amsterdam's planned clean-up of its red-light district. The report is actually about a major fraud case involving the head of a construction company.
Apparently, one of his ruses was to put his regular visits to prostitutes on his company expenses under the heading 'legal advice'. An insider fills us in: "There are so many entries of this kind. It looks like he had his trousers round his ankles more often than he sat behind his desk," he laughs.
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]