The Dutch news in March 2004
In the third addition to Expatica's monthly news round-up, here are the headlines from the month of March 2004.
Many foreign brides face pre-arrival integration
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Baptism date for baby princess announced
The proud parents and Princess Amalia
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lusanne kidnapper jailed for 5 years
Lusanne van der Gunn
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bruinsma's killer dies in hail of bullets
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.
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.
Princess Juliana dies, aged 94
The deceased Queen Juliana
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.
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.
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.
Iranian asylum seeker ends hunger strike
Asylum seeker Mehdy Kavousi and his wife Marjon
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Victim Anja Joos
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.
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