RNW Press Review – Tuesday 4 February 2008
A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.
RNW Press Review – Tuesday 4 February 2008 – by Frank Scimone
The AD interviews Peter R. de Vries, the Netherlands’ most well-known crime journalist, who claims to have solved the Natalee Holloway case. On Sunday the commercial Dutch television station SBS6 broadcast a two-hour programme on the case of the American teenager who went missing on the island of Aruba in May 2005. The Aruban Patrick van der Eem befriended the main suspect, the Dutch teenager Joran van der Sloot. He then approached Peter de Vries and offered to help solve the case. Mr De Vries installed three hidden cameras on a Land Rover and in ten conversations with his new friend Van der Sloot gave a detailed confession of how Natalee Holloway died or lost consciousness on the beach and how he disposed of the body.
De Vries’s programme will be aired this evening in the United States on ABC. AD reports that “Tomorrow De Vries is leaving for America where he will appear on eight shows.”
“Workaholic, pitbull, but most of all people’s hero”
According to AD: “Until a few years ago, ‘serious journalists’ sometimes condescendingly described De Vries as a sensation-loving trendy careerist. But that time has long passed. He has a series of startling disclosures to his merit. He proved that the ‘Putten two’ (two innocent people who thanks to his efforts were released from prison) were innocent. Because of these events De Vries has become a people’s hero.”
In an interview with AD several years ago De Vries said: “People who believe that they cannot find justice, or that police leave them to their fate, come to me in droves” AD suggests that “Maybe the Netherlands has become too small for De Vries, who in one stroke has become famous in the US.” AD says he is driven by more than honour: “I’ve had contact with some people, including the parents of murdered children, for eighteen years. For them I’m a walking encyclopaedia, a sounding board, someone to turn to for help.”
Trial by media
De Volkskrant approaches the case from a different angle. A commentary by the jurist Gijs Schreuders warns about “The dangers of Peter R. de Vries’s methods”. The jurist writes: “All that was missing after last night was SBS6 having its own arrest team that on the orders of Head of Police De Vries arrested the suspects. They would then be brought to a basement under the television studios where they would be detained until their television trial, after which the viewers would be able to decide on their guilt inter-actively.”
Mr Schreuders, who says he doesn’t mind the crime reporter helping people, as when he helped free two innocent suspects who were jailed for seven years for the killing of an airline stewardess from the town of Putten. But, he asks, what happens now when journalists use methods to trace people which the police aren’t allowed to, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office uses the findings? “Criminal law isn’t a television show…Journalistic research in the field of crime and law is respectful and necessary, but journalists shouldn’t take the place of the authorities. Their purpose should be to provide information and disclose abuses. Crime reporters shouldn’t get involved with detective work and ‘trial by media’.”
Labour Party leader calls on executives to show restraint
De Volkskrant quotes Labour Party leader and Deputy Prime Minster Wouter Bos who in a speech on Saturday to senior executives at the Bilderberg Conference appeals to them to keep their own salaries under control. He asks them to see to it that there are: “Transparent criteria for financial rewards, a clear relationship between payment and performance and a ceiling on salary packages.” The Labour Party leader told the executives that he does not want to make any laws, but asked them to “take their own responsibility”.
Mr Bos pointed out that concern for excessive incomes is not “a leftwing trend in the small Netherlands” but is also an issue in other European countries and the United States. “And do me a favour. Don’t come with the argument that it’s the market that demands this. The market doesn’t demand anything. You’re demanding it. Or offering it.” Mr Bos also asks for consideration for globalisation’s losers, such as “Calvé’s employees who see their jobs disappear to countries with low wages; or people who have problems with the twenty hard-working Poles who are living in two rooms next door.”
Dutch MPs vote for Obama as president
A poll carried out amongst Dutch MPs shows that Barrack Obama would win by a landslide if elections were held in the Dutch Parliament. AD reports that 38 percent of the MPs who voted in the shadow election chose Mr Obama and 26 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. The various Republican candidates got less than 20 percent combined. AD points out that in the shadow elections of 2004, George W Bush got less than 20 percent of the votes in the Dutch Parliament.
EC could take the Netherlands to court over gay and women’s rights
Trouw reports that the Netherlands has received a warning from the European Commission’s Social Affairs Minister Vladimir Spidla. He says that the Dutch legal system offers churches, religious schools and other organisations too much leeway when it comes to barring gays and women from certain functions, such as leadership positions. The European Commission is giving the Netherlands two months to reply. Trouw writes that “If the Netherlands doesn’t make its national laws conform with EU laws then Spidla with take the Netherlands to the European court.” Trouw reports that 13 other European countries received a similar warning.
Circus fears ban on animals
De Telegraaf writes about the reaction of the circuses to today’s debate in the Dutch Parliament, which is considering a proposal to ban the use of wild animals in circuses as of 2010. One circus director says “It will mean the death of the circus.” The Great Moscow State Circus will be one of a number of circuses which will demonstrate today outside the Dutch Parliament in The Hague.
Circus director Alberto Althoff says “No politician ever comes to see us. Animals are our livelihood. We’d be crazy not to treat our animals with love. If there’s a place where animals are well cared for, it’s the circus.” The director of Theater Carré, Hein Jans, points out that there are different definitions of wild animals. “In India and Sri Lanka elephants are working animals.” He says “Circuses were invented by farmers to show that horses could do more than just till fields. And if soldiers got bored they’d do other things with their horses.”
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]
Subject: Dutch news