The Dutch news in May 2006

6th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

New registration requirements for EU citizens; Churches and Amnesty criticise Dutch asylum policies; Population growth at an all-time low; US to welcome Hirsi Ali; Rutte beats Verdonk - some of the highlights in May 2006.

1 May 2006
EU citizen registration regulation comes into force 

Citizens of other EU states, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland who are moving to the Netherlands from 1 May onward must register with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). The regulation applies to citizens of these countries who wish to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months. "They will no longer have to request proof of lawful residency and in addition, they will no longer be issued with a residence permit," the IND said in a statement on its website. EU and EEA citizens who register with the IND will receive a sticker in their passports as proof. Family members of these people who themselves are not citizens of an EU or EEA member state or Switzerland must still submit a request for verification against EU Community Law, also known as Proof of Lawful Residence. This also applies to citizens of Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia, as long as the EU job market is still restricted for these people, the IND said.

2 May 2006
Churches lash 'inhumane treatment' of refugees

Ineke Bakker

Asylum seekers and refugees in the Netherlands are increasingly facing "inhumane treatment", the Dutch Council of Churches warned on Tuesday. The organisation sounded the alarm in a letter to the parliamentary commission on Justice and Alien Affairs on Tuesday. It based its stinging criticism on accounts from church members who do volunteer work with asylum seekers. "We could perhaps suggest a few years ago that it involved isolated incidents, but now we have established that inhumane situations and reports about such things have taken on a structural character," said Ineke Bakker, the general secretary of the Church Council.

4 May 2006
Netherlands largest investor in Eastern Europe 
In the last ten years Dutch companies have invested heavily in the ten newest EU states, of which eight are in the former Eastern Bloc. In a report by the European Commission on the economic consequences of the Union’s expansion, it appears that the Netherlands is the number one investor. But this is partly down to the many holding companies established in the Netherlands that in reality are non-European. The newest member states have since 1997 received a total of more than EUR 190 billion from foreign investors. According to the Commission, many companies have profited from the wave of privatisations in Eastern Europe. In only a limited number of cases was investment made for establishing new factories using cheap labour to replace jobs in Western countries.

8 May 2006
English fans to be frisked on way to World Cup  

Gunning for Germany?

Officials in the Dutch town of Velsen plan to frisk all English fans travelling via the nearby port of Ijmuiden on the way to the World Cup in Germany. Local mayor Peter Cammaert wants to change the local bylaws to enable police to stop and search all the fans to ensure they are not carrying weapons, a spokesperson for the municipality said on Monday. Police expect approximately 100,000 English fans will arrive by ferry to Ijmuiden and travel on to Germany by coaches. Ijmuiden has two ferry services to Britain every day.

10 May 2006
Dutch population growth at record low 
Over 22,000 immigrants took up residence in the Netherlands in the first quarter of 2006, according to the latest figures by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). This is 2,000 more than the same period last year. "The increase consists mainly of returning Dutch people and immigrants from Poland. Emigration rose fast in the first quarter. That is mainly why the number of inhabitants of the Netherlands rose by only 2,000, the lowest figure on record," the CBS said. There were six hundred more returning Dutch people than the year before, bringing the total to 5,000 for the quarter.  The number of Polish immigrants increased to 1.8 thousand in the first quarter of 2006. That makes Polish people the second largest group of immigrants, after the returning Dutch. "There are hardly any immigrants from the other Eastern European countries that joined the European Union on 1 May 2004," the CBS said. Emigration continues to rise. 

11 May 2006
Thousands 'unfairly' ticketed under ID law 

Police have issued 80,000 tickets since the beginning of 2005 to people for failing to carry proper ID. But an investigation published by newspaper De Volkskrant on Thursday indicated the police often acted wrongly. The paper said that the Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) thinks police officers are often too quick to hand out a ticket to a person without ID, but whose identity is known. Often the cases relate to 'acquaintances' of the police, such as homeless people or beggars. Others involve people who later come to the police station with a valid ID. The ID law, which came into force in January 2005,  states a fine is not necessary in such cases.

11 May 2006
Dutch economic growth highest in 5 years 

The Dutch economy performed strongly in the first quarter of 2006, with gross domestic product (GDP) up by 2.9 percent on the year before. This was the highest growth rate in over five years. "Employment is also increasing more rapidly, with 85,000 more jobs than a year earlier," Statistics Netherlands said on Thursday as it issued the first estimate of the quarterly accounts. Exports contributed substantially to the economic recovery in the first quarter of 2006 and an increase in household consumption was another major impulse. Investments were up as well. But the CBS characterised quarter-on-quarter growth was modest. The volume of GDP in the first quarter of 2006, corrected for calendar and seasonal effects, was 0.2 percent higher than in the fourth quarter of 2005. The first quarter of 2006 had two working days more than the first quarter of last year.
17 May 2006
MPs order Verdonk to reconsider Hirsi Ali's status  

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk was compelled in the early hours of Wednesday morning to reconsider whether Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Dutch citizen. A majority of the political parties in parliament backed two motions on the issue. One calls on Verdonk to reconsider within six weeks whether Hirsi Ali is a Dutch citizen. The second instructs the Minister to grant Hirsi Ali accelerated naturalisation if she finds she is not a citizen of the Netherlands. During eleven hours of debate on Tuesday, Verdonk parried criticism from parties on both the left and right of the political spectrum about her treatment of former Liberal MP Hirsi Ali. Verdonk, also a member of the Liberal Party (VVD), continually exasperated MPs as she defended her decision to send Hirsi Ali a letter on Monday to say her naturalisation in 1997 was invalid. This flows from the use of a false name and date of birth by Somali-born Hirsi Ali to get asylum five years earlier.

18 May 2006
America to welcome Hirsi Ali with open arms 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is more than welcome to relocate to America regardless of uncertainty about her status in the Netherlands, Deputy US Secretary of State Robert Zoellick had indicated. "We recognise that she is a very courageous and impressive woman and she is welcome in the US," Zoellick told a press conference in The Hague. In response to press questions, he was full of praise for Hirsi Ali. "She is a very important figure from whom we in Europe and the US all can learn." But the decision on Hirsi Ali's status in the Netherlands is one for the Dutch government, the number two at the US State Department said.
19 May 2006
New system mooted for knowledge migrants 
The cabinet discussed the introduction of a points system for knowledge migrants to compensate for the impending shortage of university trained workers in the Netherlands. The proposal was tabled by Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk at the weekly meeting of ministers. Potential migrants will be judged on a points system and account will be taken of the shortage of skilled people per sector of the economy, RTL News reported. The immigration services in Australia and New Zealand use similar systems. Verdonk is also proposing easing the entry requirements for seasonal workers. The broadcaster got its hands on a copy of her plans before the cabinet meeting, during which other ministers were expected to take Verdonk to task for the way she has dealt the doubt about the naturalisation of former MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

19 May 2006
PM withdraws preference for VVD as coalition partner 
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has withdrawn his preference to continue ruling with the Liberal (VVD) if his Christian Democrats (CDA) retain power after the 2007 election. He revealed his change of mind in an interview with newspaper 'Trouw' on Friday. "I have in the past not ruled out the Labour party (PvdA). It is better for the CDA to present its own case and I am going to dedicate myself to doing that." Nevertheless, Balkenende said he wanted the next coalition to implement the "same type of policy" as the current government. "The policy of healthy government finances, strengthening the structure of the economy, increasing participation in the labour market and new solidarity - this type of policy absolutely must be continued."
22 May 2006
Ahold execs escape with discount sentences   

Cees van der Hoeven

Prosecutors are considering appealing after a court in the Dutch capital imposed suspended sentences on former CEO Cees van der Hoeven of Dutch retail giant Ahold. His former right-hand man, CFO Michiel Meurs, received a similar sentence. Prosecutor Hendrik-Jan Biemond confirmed shortly after the verdicts were announced on Monday that appeals were being considered. He said the court was right to convict three former Ahold officials on fraud charges. "But in considering penalty the court came to a different conclusion that the prosecution," he said. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) had sought 14-month custodial sentences against Van der Hoeven and Meurs.

23 May 2006
Latest Holloway suspect released from custody 
The Aruban youth arrested in the Dutch city of Utrecht last week as a suspect in the Natalee Holloway case was released on Tuesday morning. The Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) said he remains a suspect. But Gerard Spong, the youth's lawyer, described this as a formality. "It is unthinkable that he will be arrested again on the basis of how things stand at the moment in the investigation," Spong said. His client, who has not been identified, was the detained on suspicion of complicity in the unlawful detention, sexual assault and murder of Holloway on the night of 29-30 May last year.  The 18-year-old Alabama teenager disappeared while on holiday in Aruba with school friends to celebrate their graduation. Repeated searches of the island and coastal waters have failed to find any trace of her. The authorities believe she was murdered. The Aruban was released from custody as Spong prepared to go to court to have his arrest overturned. The youth indicated via Spong that he would fight any attempt to extradite him to Aruba. 

23 May 2006
Amnesty criticises Dutch over asylum  

The Netherlands has earned dishonourable mention in Amnesty's annual report for 2006 "for the first time in many years". The human rights organisation expressed serious concerns about the treatment of asylum seekers and deportees by the Dutch authorities. Amnesty also criticised the tough anti-terrorism proposals put forward by Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner to criminalise the glorification and downplaying of terrorist acts. Amnesty charged that governments are misusing the international battle against terrorism to damage human rights.

24 May 2006
Jail time cut in rape, animal porn case 

Sentences cut in animal sex rape case

An appeals court in Arnhem imposed sentences of seven years on the two main defendants in the Kraggenburger rape and animal porn case. Belgian P.M. and E van C., a resident of the Dutch town of Almere, were jailed for 14 and 10 years by the trial court in Lelystad for kidnapping three African refugees in Brussels. The women were subjected to rape and sexual assault in a shed in the Dutch town of Kraggenburger in April 2004. The women were beaten and forced to have sex with Rottweiler dogs for the purposes of a pornographic video. It was also alleged the gang was planning to make a 'snuff movie', in which a victim was to be killed during sexual activities. The women managed to escape and raise the alarm.

26 May 2006
Dutch 'nurse' in South African Aids storm 
A Dutch woman has been accused of indirectly causing the Aids-related death of at least one person in South Africa. Tine van der Maas is the creator of the 'Aids Diet' of beetroot, spinach, garlic and olive oil. South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is said to have recommended the diet to people with Aids. But South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper reported Van der Maas has been linked to the Aids-related death of local personality Nozipho Bhengu last week. She also provided nutritional support and treatment to radio DJ Fana Khaba, aka Khabzela. He died of Aids in January 2004 after he stopped taking anti-retrovirals (ARVs). The book 'Khabzela: The Life and Times of a South African' published last year claims Minister Tshabalala-Msimang recommended Van der Maas to him.

29 May 2006
Minister to study Canadian immigration system 

Stockwell Day

Dutch immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk is to visit Canada. The North American country serves as an example for the Netherlands in terms of immigration policy, the Dutch Justice Ministry said. Verdonk, who is tipped to become the political leader of the Liberal Party (VVD) on Wednesday, will hold talks with Canadian officials about attracting knowledge immigrants and encouraging newcomers to integrate. They will also discuss border controls and techniques to prevent radicalisation. She will meet with Monte Solberg, Citizenship and Immigration, and Stockwell Day, Public Safety in Ottawa. Verdonk will also have a meeting with Ontario's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Mike Colle and visit a high school in a migrant neighbourhood.

30 May 2006
Dutch paedophiles set up political party

Founders of the paedophile party

Pro-paedophile activists have established a new political party in the Netherlands to campaign for the legalisation of sex between adults and children. "Ten years ago we were 'on speaking terms' with society. But since [Belgian paedophile killer] Marc Dutroux there is no more discussion. All paedophiles are being put in the same box. We are being hushed up," Ad van den Berg, the co-founder of the NVD party, told newspaper 'AD'. The NVD, which is being officially launched on Wednesday, will lobby for a reduction in the age of consent in the Netherlands from 16 to 12 and then phased out completely over time. "Forbidding makes children all the more curious," Van den Berg said.

31 May 2006
Five sectors open to new EU expats 
Five sectors of the Dutch economy are being opened up to expats from the eight Central and Eastern Europe states that joined the European Union in 2004. The Dutch Social Affairs Ministry announced on Wednesday that from 1 June workers from these countries will not have to obtain a work permit to take employment in the agriculture sector, inland shipping, abattoirs, fish processing, scientific research and light engineering. The five sectors are the first to be opened up to workers from Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic because of an actual or threatened shortage of Dutch workers.

31 May 2006
Rutte beats Verdonk in VVD leadership race

Mark Rutte - the Liberal choice

Junior Education minister Mark Rutte was elected the new political leader of the Liberal Party (VVD) on Wednesday evening.  Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, his main rival, congratulated him and promised her full support to help make the VVD the largest party. Rutte will lead the party into the general election in 2007. Rutte received 51 percent of the votes and Verdonk, the bookies' favourite in recent weeks, received 46 percent. The third candidate, MP Jelleke Veenendaal, got 3 percent of the vote. This is the first time that the 40,000 members of the VVD have been given the chance to pick the political leader in a direct election.

Story not linked to here? Try the Expatica search function.

7 June 2006

[Copyright Expatica + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

0 Comments To This Article