The Dutch news in March 2004

1st April 2004, Comments 0 comments

In the third addition to Expatica's monthly news round-up, here are the headlines from the month of March 2004.

1 March
Non-EU partner, family migrants 'must integrate'

Many foreign brides face pre-arrival integration

It is confirmed that non-European Union nationals are required to do an integration course if they arrive in the Netherlands to join their Dutch partner. But US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese nationals will be exempted from integration courses in their home country because their national governments have signed treaties of exclusion with Dutch authorities. The Dutch Cabinet has resolved that non-EU marriage and family reunification migrants will be forced to complete an integration course in their land of origin before being allowed to enter the Netherlands. 

1 March
Dutch film misses out on Oscar

The Netherlands awakes to learn that Dutch film De Tweeling (Twin Sisters) has missed out on winning an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category in Hollywood. Canadian film The Barbarian Invasions took the Academy Award home.

2 March
Amsterdam 10th most liveable city

Despite traffic congestion problems, Amsterdam retains its position as the 10th most liveable city in the world, according to the latest "quality of life" report from the Mercer Human Resource Consulting agency.

2 March 
Commissions advise on integration exam plans

A special commission advises the government that forcing non-EU immigrants to do an integration exam as a condition to stay in the Netherlands would not breach the European Convention on Human Rights. Another commission tells the government on 3 March that the integration exam to be imposed on family unification immigrants must be of a reasonably attainable level.

2 March
Moroccan bombing suspect arrested

Dutch police reveal they have arrested an Al Qaeda suspect allegedly involved in terrorist bomb attacks in Morocco. The prosecution said the Belgian man of Moroccan ancestry was arrested on 27 January in the Dutch province of Limburg. A decision on the Moroccan extradition request is expected in May.

3 March
Shell chiefs quit over oil reserves scandal

After Royal Dutch/Shell reduced its oil reserve estimates by 20 percent in January, chief executive Sir Philip Watts resigns and is replaced by Dutchman Jeroen van der Veer. The director of the Exploration and Production division, Walter van der Vijver, also resigned at the request of the supervisory board. Shell reduces its oil reserve estimates a second time on 18 March.

3 March
Bandidos gang members arrested

Dutch and German police raid motorcycle club Bandidos arresting 25 people across eight German cities and the Dutch city Kerkrade. The suspects are alleged to have been involved in the smuggling of drugs across the southern Dutch-German border. Another suspect was arrested in Denmark on 29 February.

5 March
Baptism date for baby princess announced

The proud parents and Princess Amalia

Expatica reports that the future queen of the Netherlands, Catharina-Amalia, is to be baptised in The Hague on 12 June. The princess, known as Amalia, was born to Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his Argentine-born wife, Princess Maxima, on 7 December 2003.

8 March
Women 'forced to fight for place in workforce'

To mark UN International Women's Day, Social Affairs Minister Aart Jan de Geus admits that despite emancipation achievements in the Netherlands, women still have to fight for their place in the labour market and there remains a lot of work to do in regards emancipation.

8 March 
Policy change looms for expat workers

In contrast to the party's official reservations about labour migration, a Christian Democrat CDA workgroup backs the recruitment of highly-educated foreigners to fill jobs where a shortage of Dutch workers exists. Democrat D66 Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst also said at the end of February that the Netherlands lacks an immigration policy in relation to the transfer of knowledge.

8 March
Asylum seeker requests continue to decline

The number of asylum seeker applications lodged with the Dutch authorities fell by 28 percent in 2003 to 13,402 compared with 18,667 in 2002, a Justice Ministry report indicates. Restrictive legislation which came into force in 2001 has led to a continued decline in asylum requests since 43,560 applications were lodged in 2000.

10 March
New English newspaper hits the streets

The first edition of a new English-language paper Amsterdam Weekly appears in outlets around the capital. Its publication follows the launch of the Amsterdam Times in 2003.

10 March
Man escapes prosecution for animal sex

A 65-year-old man caught having sex with a pony escapes prosecution because bestiality is not illegal in the Netherlands. Outraged Dutch MPs demand legislative change to outlaw sex with animals.

11 March
Queen, PM offer Spain condolences

Queen Beatrix offers her condolences to Spain's King Juan Carlos, the victims and their relatives following the Madrid bombings. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende expresses shock at the bombings and also offers condolences to Spain. The Spanish embassy holds a rally on 12 March in The Hague and the Netherlands, along with the rest of the EU, observes a three-minute silence for the victims on 15 March.

11 March
Lusanne kidnapper jailed for 5 years

Lusanne van der Gunn

The man who kidnapped 11-year-old Lusanne van der Gunn is sentenced in Leeuwarden Court to five years in jail. The 64-year-old Simon S. abducted Lusanne on 25 August 2003 as she rode to school in the Friesian village of Oldeberkoop. He released her unharmed two days later in the eastern Dutch city Venlo. The prosecution demanded an eight-year jail term and has appealed the ruling.

11 March
Secret court hearing for Hell Angels suspects

Two Hells Angels gang members facing triple murder charges are remanded in custody when they appear in a secret court. The prosecution accused the 43 and 37-year-old men of shooting and killing three members of their own motorcycle gang in February and kidnapping two members of an Antillean motorcycle gang, who are also remanded in custody.

12 March
EU expats exempted from residence permit

In future, expats from European Union countries will no longer have to apply for a residence permit to live and work in the Netherlands. A new EU law means that EU expats living will simply have to register with the local authorities when they move to the Netherlands. EU member states need to change their domestic legislation within two years.

12 March
Cabinet agrees WAO changes

The Cabinet agrees on a series of changes to the WAO worker disability pension scheme, largely accepting advice from the Social Economic Council (SER). From 2006, only fully incapacitated workers will receive benefits and entry conditions will be toughened. But these conditions are less severe than initially intended, a concession offered in exchange for union acceptance of a two-year wage freeze. The WAO changes become effective from 1 July and are designed over time to save the government EUR 2 billion.

16 March
Balkenende meets Bush in Washington

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende meets with US President George Bush during a two-day visit to the US. Talks focused on the global economy and the war against terror. Bush did not directly ask the Netherlands to extend its peacekeeping mission in Iraq, but urged the Dutch public to remember that the Iraqi people do not want international troops to withdraw.

16 March
Rotterdam shuts door on street prostitutes

Rotterdam Council decides against offering non-drug addicted street prostitutes an alternative area to ply their trade when the city's tolerated street sex zone is closed at the end of 2005. The council voted in 2002 that the city's street prostitution area on the Keileweg should close because of ongoing crime and public disturbance problems.

17 March
North Sea Jazz moves to Rotterdam

The North Sea Jazz Festival, the nation's largest jazz music event, is set to move from The Hague to Rotterdam from 2006. From then on the jazz festival will be exclusively held at the Ahoy. The decision is confirmed on 31 March.

18 March
Bruinsma's killer dies in hail of bullets

Klaas Bruinsma

Former Dutch policeman Martin Hoogland, who murdered drugs baron Klaas Bruinsma in Amsterdam in 1991, is shot dead in the town Hoorn. The killer escapes. Bruinsma was in the news last year when it emerged he had a relationship with Mabel Wisse Smit, the fiancee of Prince Johan Friso. Parliament has not approved the planned royal wedding due to Mabel's lies about the affair and Prince Friso will lose his rights to the throne after their April wedding.

18 March
Dutch unemployment tops 6pc

Dutch unemployment levels hit 6.2 percent of the labour force in the months of December 2003 and January and February 2004, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reveals. The last time the jobless rate topped 6 percent was in 1997.

19 March
MP pepper sprays political elite in restaurant

Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali scores another political first by pepper spraying several patrons in a restaurant frequented by the political elite in The Hague. The Liberal VVD MP was dining in Le Bistroquet when she sprayed some of the contents of a can of pepper spray. Several patrons suffered tears and irritation to the eyes as a result of the spray that is sometimes used as a defence against mugging or rape. It is a banned weapon in the Netherlands.

20 March
Princess Juliana dies, aged 94

The deceased Queen Juliana

Former Dutch queen Princess Juliana dies in her sleep at 5.50am surrounded by much of her immediate family at Soestdijk Palace. Her body is transferred to Noordeinde Palace in The Hague on 24 March. Almost 50,000 people pay their last respects in a palace chapel and she is interred in the royal family crypt in the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft on 30 March. Queen Juliana is survived by her 92-year-old husband Prince Bernhard and her four daughters, including present monarch Queen Beatrix.

21 March
Princess gives birth to a baby boy

Princess Laurentien gives birth at 12.37am in the Bronovo hospital in The Hague to the couple's first son, Claus-Casimir. Princess Laurentien is married to Prince Constantijn, the third son of Queen Beatrix. The baby's full title is Claus-Casimir Bernhard Marius Max, Count of Oranje Naussau, Esquire of Amsberg. He is the Queen's third grandchild and is sixth in line to the Dutch throne. Laurentien and Constantijn also have a daughter, Eloise, who was born on 8 June 2002.

22 March
Dutch condemn Hamas leader's killing

The Dutch government condemns the killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and asserts that the Israeli air strike breached international law, Foreign Minister Ben Bot confirms. Yassin, 67, was the co-founder and spiritual leader of the Hamas movement. He was killed in a helicopter rocket attack personally ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the daybreak attack triggers calls for revenge from Palestinians.

23 March
Campina blackmailer jailed for 10 years

The 46-year-old Dutchman who tried to blackmail dairy company Campina by poisoning desserts last year is jailed for 10 years by Utrecht Court. The man — identified as F. van L., of Chaam in North Brabant — was found guilty on blackmail charges and five counts of attempted murder.

23 March
Iranian asylum seeker ends hunger strike

Asylum seeker Mehdy Kavousi and his wife Marjon

An Iranian asylum seeker who sewed his mouth and eyes shut in a desperate attempt to stay in the Netherlands cuts his mouth open and ends his hunger strike after 44 days. Mehdy Kavousi, of Zaandijk, was a vivid element of a protest in February against the government's plan to deport 26,000 refugees and grant a residence permit to just 2,300 long-term asylum seekers. Several days after the protest in The Hague, the rejected asylum seeker cut open his eyes and started drinking again. And after reaching an agreement with the immigration service IND allowing him to legally staying in the Netherlands with his Dutch wife, Kavousi decides to end his hunger strike.

23 March
Toddler lived for days with dead mother

A one-year-old girl survives almost a week living next to the body of her 37-year-old mother who is found dead in the bedroom of their Rotterdam apartment. The woman died of natural causes on about 18 March. The one-year-old child was found in her bed and was taken to the Sophia Children's Hospital. Her family in the north of the country has been informed.

23 March
Dutch agree Thai prisoner exchange treaty

The Netherlands and Thailand reach official agreement in Bangkok on the text of a prisoner exchange treaty. The treaty will allow prisoners under certain conditions to serve out their prison term in their home country, but it will only come into force when political consent is given. The treaty is especially important for the estimated 15 Dutch prisoners serving time in the notorious Thai penitentiary system.

25 March
Dutchman to plan EU terror fight

Former Dutch state secretary Gijs de Vries is appointed in Brussels as the new European counter-terrorism co-ordinator. The 48-year-old will come under the direct authority of EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. EU leaders moved to sharpen its counter-terrorism measures after the Madrid bombings.

25 March
Female bomb scare suspect released

Three bomb scares in one day leads to a female train passenger arrested in connection with the threat that closed the train station at Roosendaal. The woman was released later that night, but investigations continue. The woman's arrest came as two other false bomb scares also led to the closure of Amsterdam Central Station and Leiden's main train station.

25 March
Former judge escapes jail for child porn

Arnhem Court sentences a former judge to a three-month suspended jail term and a EUR 2,500 fine for the possession of child pornography. Allegations that the judge, identified as F. F., had sexually abused his stepson were unproven.

25 March 
Dog killed, man hurt in bizarre lift accident

A dog is killed in a bizarre lift accident in Breda and a 32-year-old man is treated in hospital for knee and shoulder injuries after falling 3.5m down the lift shaft. It all started when the dog ran out of the lift just as the doors closed. The lift car and the dog's owner went up, but the dog's lead was caught between the doors and the dog was pulled up from outside as the lift went upwards. The Breda man went to help the dog, but fell into the shaft when the lift doors opened. The dog was strangled.

26 March
Youth jailed for 3 years in Joos killing

Victim Anja Joos

Amsterdam Court jails a 17-year-old youth for three years for his role in the violent death of heroin addict Anja Joos in October 2003. Main suspect 19-year-old suspect Mohamed G. was sentenced to 18 months jail and the prosecution lodges an appeal. Four other young men were sentenced to jail terms ranging from nine to 12 months, while two other male suspects were acquitted. Joos, 43, was kicked and beaten outside an Amsterdam supermarket. She died in hospital.

30 March
Student seriously injured in stabbing

A 17-year-old student is stabbed and seriously injured in a school in the Friesland city Heerenveen and a 14-year-old student is arrested. The victim, of Joure, is admitted to a hospital in Zwolle, but was expected to recover.

31 March
Intelligence agency expands to combat terror

 In part as a reaction to the Madrid train bombings, the Dutch intelligence service AIVD will undergo a new expansion. It has been given permission to recruit additional staff to help counter the risk of a Madrid-style terrorist attack in the Netherlands. The government also resolves to implement a national alarm phase similar to the US system. Red will signify the highest alert.

2 April 2004

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[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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