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Soualiga Newsday Focus (667)

Hundreds of foreign criminals opt for early release in exchange for deportation

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Hundreds of foreign criminals avoid sitting out their full jail sentence by opting to return to their country of origin instead, the AD reported on Wednesday.

The early release ruling, which dates from 2012, gives foreign criminals their freedom after completing at least half of their sentence on condition they leave the country. The ruling hit the headlines earlier this year when a Polish driver who killed a two-year old girl and her grandparents made use of the deal.

The sentence, 15 months, caused outrage, especially when the man was freed after nine months to see his pregnant girlfriend in Poland. Junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff (VVD) promised to review the ruling to take in the interests of the victims and their families but said a review will not be on the cards before January 2018.

According to justice ministry figures, some 800 criminal foreigners were released early in 2015 and 2016. So far the figure for this year is over 200. The ruling includes crimes which carry sentences of more than three years, the paper says, but the ministry has no information about the specific crimes committed.

Albanian, Surinamese and Polish nationals are among the foreign criminals who most often return to their native countries under the ruling. Criminals who later return to the Netherlands go back to prison to serve the rest of their sentence.

The AD found that almost half of criminals opt for the ruling themselves which, the paper says, invalidates the ministry of justice’s boast that it is often successful deporting foreign criminals. (DutchNews)


Amersfoort mayor appeals to minister about deportation of Down’s boy

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The mayor of Amersfoort has made an urgent appeal to justice minister Stef Blok not to deport a five-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome to Iraq.

The boy, his brother and mother face deportation to Baghdad after failing to win refugee status in the Netherlands. The child, nicknamed Zuzu, was born in Syria but has Iraqi nationality, like his mother.

His father is Palestinian and lives with his sister in Syria. Earlier this month, Amersfoort woman Deborah Ligtenberg started an online petition in protest at the planned deportation of the boy.

It has since been signed some 15,000 times. After speaking to Ligtenberg and the family’s lawyer, Mayor Lucas Bolsius has decided to raise the issue with the minister, who has discretionary powers to grant the family refugee status on compassionate grounds.

Refugee camp

The justice ministry has not commented directly on the case. However, asked by broadcaster NOS if a child with Down’s would be more likely to be able to stay in the Netherlands, a spokesman said: ‘If a medical condition is involved, then it has to be asked if the person can get the care they need in the country of origin.

Otherwise, the Netherlands will become the world’s hospital.’ In addition, ‘Down’s syndrome is not something which only occurs in the Netherlands,’ the spokesman is quoted as saying.

Down’s specialist Michel Weijerman told the AD last week that Zuzu’s position in Iraq will be ‘hopeless’. ‘He will live in a refugee camp, where his weak health will not be able to deal with the poor hygiene.

In Iraq, he will go downhill physically, mentally and developmentally,’ Weijerman told the AD. (DutchNews)


‘National police force short of money and 500 officers’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The national police force is short of both money and staff, making it impossible to do its job properly, the head of the force works council told the AD in an interview on Tuesday.

‘We have a backlog when it comes to staffing and the organisation,’ Richard Bronswijk told the paper. ‘The reorganisation of the national police force has been disastrous for us.’

The creation of a new national police force was based on the situation prior to 2012, Bronswijk said. ‘But look what we’ve had added to our duties since then,’ he said, referring to the threat of terrorism.

‘All in all, we are short of 500 officers.’ Bronswijk and police union chief Jan Struijs told the paper that creation of a centralised admin centre in 2013 has been a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’.

In some cases, undercover operations have been cancelled because it is taking too long to get passports, visas and special equipment. ‘Colleagues who needed night vision binoculars have had to borrow them from Belgium,’ Struijs said.

‘They drove to the Belgian border to pick them up.’ The department currently employs 4,800 people and there are 100 vacancies, the AD said. (DutchNews)


Mother arrested for death of daughter, who fell from balcony in 2015

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The mother of an eight-year-old girl who died after falling from a 10th floor balcony in 2015 has been arrested on suspicion of murder, the public prosecution department said on Tuesday.

Sharleyne Remouchamps fell from the balcony at the apartment in Heerenveen where her mother lived on the night of June 7. The mother, now aged 37, was arrested at the time because she was behaving suspiciously but after three days the public prosecution department said it was impossible to prove if the girl fell, jumped or was thrown to the ground.

‘New evidence’ however, shows that the mother was responsible for the girl’s death, the public prosecutor said, without giving further details. The new facts were turned up in a second, court ordered investigation after the girl’s father took legal action to force a new probe.

Sharleyne’s parents separated in 2011 and her mother was under social service supervision because of her drink problem, as well as allegations of neglect and domestic violence. Social work inspectors said after the girl’s death that too much attention had been focused on the parents and not enough on the needs of the child.  (DutchNews)


More children in organised childcare as more mothers go out to work

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The number of children in some form of organised childcare – a creche, child-minder or after-school club – has reached its highest level since 2011, according to new figures from the tax office and social affairs ministry.

In the second quarter of this year, some 736,000 children were placed in formal childcare, a rise of 56,000 on 2016, the figures show. The rise is due to more women going out to work as the economy grows.

Women in the Netherlands now work an average of 26 hours a week. Caretaker social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher said it is ‘fantastic’ that so many working mothers are making use of ‘good quality, affordable childcare’.

‘The children learn a lot through play and, of course, can have fun with other children. They will benefit from this in the future and it is good for their language skills and development,’ the minister said.

There are now 7,643 formally recognised childcare options in the Netherlands, a rise of 628 on a year ago. However, the number of registered childminders has fallen, the figures show. (DutchNews)


Pope canonises victims of Dutch colonial massacre in Brazil

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Pope Francis has canonised 30 Portuguese martyrs who were killed during the Dutch colonial occupation of Brazil in the 17th century.

Portuguese Catholics were ordered to convert to Protestantism when the Dutch seized their territories in northern Brazil. A 73-year-old priest and 69 of his followers who refused were massacred during a mass at Natal in June 1645.

Another slaughter of dozens of worshippers followed in November. Pope John Paul II beatified the Martyrs of Natal, the penultimate step on the route to sainthood, in 2000.

The group of 30 saints comprises all the victims whose names are known. October 3 is an official holiday in the northern region of Rio Grande del Norte, in commemoration of the martyrs’ plight. (DutchNews)


Questions mount about Anne Faber suspect and the clinic which treats him

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Justice Minister Stef Blok has asked ministry inspectors to look into the psychiatric clinic where Michael P, the man suspected of murdering Anne Faber, was being treated.

‘There are so many questions about the background to this case – about the suspect and the situation at the clinic in Den Dolder where he lived,’ Blok said. P was convicted of two violent rapes in 2012 but was able to live in relative freedom at the clinic which is situated not far from where Anne was cycling on the Friday she vanished.

He was arrested earlier this week in connection with the disappearance of 25-year-old Anne, whose body was found in a nature reserve on Thursday afternoon. One woman, a mother of three girls, has set up an online petition calling for an inquiry into the ‘failures of the legal system in the case of Michael P.’

By 10.45 am it had been signed over 120,000 times. ‘We are calling on those who are responsible – the ministry of justice – to make a statement,’ the petition states.


P was jailed for 11 years in 2012 for the brutal rape of two teenage girls and for a string of robberies.

He was allowed out of the clinic as part of a re-socialisation programme, the Telegraaf said. P had not been sent to a psychiatric prison for treatment because he had refused to cooperate with a psychiatric assessment prior to his trial.

Legislation making it possible to sentence convicted criminals to tbs – or psychiatric prison – even if they have not been properly assessed, is currently pending in the upper house of parliament. According to the Telegraaf, police are now investigating a number of incidents which P may also have been involved with.

In one, which took place the weekend before Anne disappeared, a young woman was knocked off her bike and attacked by a man, who ran off when a car drove up. That incident took place in Nijkerk, the village where P attacked the two teenage girls in 2010, the Telegraaf said. (DutchNews)


New Dutch government will have 16 ministers, eight junior ministers

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The new Dutch government will be made up of 16 ministers – some of whom will share departments – and eight junior ministers, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has confirmed.

With Rutte in the lead role for the third time, the three other parties in the cabinet will also appoint one of ‘their’ ministers as deputy prime ministers. The VVD will have six ministers, D66 and the CDA four and ChristenUnie 2.

Three of junior functions (staatssecretarissen) – who are not members of the cabinet – will go to the VVD, the CDA and D66 will each have two and ChristenUnie one. The new team is likely to be presented to the public on October 26, Rutte said.

According to insiders, the Christian Democrats are likely to have the position of finance minister – given the party was second in the March general election. D66 is keen to have economic affairs – which will also include a minister for climate, and social affairs is set to go to ChristenUnie.

The CDA is also after the newly created post of minister for agriculture, while both D66 and ChristenUnie want the education job.


Rutte now has the job of filling the vacant posts ahead of the formal presentation after the autumn holidays. Three VVD ministers in the previous administration – health minister Edith Schippers, economic affairs minister Henk Kamp and infrastructure minister Melanie Schultz – are all leaving politics.

Defence minister Jeanine Hennis, who resigned last week, had been keen to return to a cabinet post but that is now unlikely, insiders say. Junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff is also likely to become leader of the VVD’s parliamentary party, replacing Halbe Zijlstra who is set for a cabinet position.

The leaders of the three other parties in the coalition are remaining in the lower house of parliament to ensure strict party discipline. The new cabinet has a majority of just one seat. (DutchNews)


Cartel body warns KLM, Schiphol about anti-competitive practices

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch flag carrier KLM and the Schiphol airport group have agreed to stop communicating about other airlines’ plans for expansion at the main Amsterdam airport on the orders of cartel watchdog ACM.

The pledge ‘will ensure a level playing field for competitors at Schiphol,’ the watchdog said.  ‘KLM and Schiphol acknowledge that interactions have taken place that carried anti-competitive risks.’

The ACM said the commitment to work independently will deal with these potential risks and that it has not established any rule breaking to date. However, the inquiry did establish that KLM ‘called Schiphol to account for facilities provided to other airlines, such as a hub for EasyJet and a business lounge for Emirates’.

In addition, KLM and Schiphol discussed Schiphol taking KLM’s position into account in its investments, airport charges, and marketing strategy, the ACM said. KLM and its partners account for some 70% of flights to and from Schiphol.

‘Capacity at Schiphol is becoming increasingly scarce, so competitors should have a level playing field,’ said ACM chairman Chris Fonteijn. ‘We have to prevent KLM from getting improper preferential treatment over other airlines.

‘These commitments therefore help create a strong airport with excellent facilities for all airlines. And that, in turn, will help ensure a varied selection and lower ticket prices,’ he said. (DutchNews)


Police find body of missing woman Anne Faber in nature reserve

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police have found the body of 25-year-old Anne Faber who vanished on a bike ride near Utrecht almost two weeks ago. Her body was found in a nature reserve near Zeewolde, a small town on the eastern side of the Flevoland polder.

Police had warned her family on Wednesday night that they had specific information which had led them to mount a careful search of the area. The man arrested in connection with her disappearance, who comes from Zeewolde, had given the police specific information about where her body would be.

As yet it is unclear how she died. Her uncle told Thursday evening’s news conference: ‘The worst scenario has unfortunately come true.’ He went on to thank police, the army and the volunteers who had helped in the search, which has gripped the Netherlands since Anne vanished.


She was last seen on the evening of September 29 in Baarn, near Utrecht, when she sent a selfie to friends before setting off on a bike ride. She may have tried to take shelter from a storm and her phone was picked up by a transmitter south of Soest at around 7.30pm, but that was the last known trace of her.

Her jacket, bike and bag were later found near the Huis ter Heide country estate. A 27-year-old convicted rapist, who was living in a psychiatric clinic not far from the route Anne was thought to have taken, was arrested earlier this week.

He was remanded in custody by judges earlier on Thursday. Michael P was jailed for 11 years in 2012 for the brutal rape of two teenage girls and for a string of robberies. He was allowed out of the clinic as part of a resocialisation programme, the Telegraaf said. (DutchNews)

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