Focus (2)

Soualiga Newsday Focus (2955)

UN committee warns ‘polarised political debate’ in Netherlands is stoking racism

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands is making progress in tackling racial inequality but still has a long way to go, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said this week.

Ethnic minorities continue to face discrimination in education, health, employment, social care and housing, according to the findings by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The report said the current political climate was partly responsible for the rise in racial tension, commenting that ‘the political debate on immigration has been polarised and has led to aggravated forms of racial discrimination’.

The committee said it was particularly concerned about ethnic profiling by police in stop and search, traffic control and border checks. It called on the Dutch government to pass legislation banning racial profiling and ensure complaints were reported and acted on.

CERD, which comprises 18 members and monitors 182 States Parties, also urged the government to improve the representation of ethnic minorities in elected bodies and the public sector, and ensure that minorities were involved in the drawing up of policies which affected them.

The committee also expressed concern that cases of racial abuse in football have risen in the Netherlands, despite initiatives to fight hate speech and hate crime. The report, officially named ‘Concluding Observations’, evaluated the Netherlands’ implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

It commended the steps being taken to address racial discrimination, such as the establishment in 2013 of MiND, the complaints office for online discrimination, but stressed the need to do more.

Online hate speech, for example, is not removed quickly enough, said the report. In terms of policing, the report asked for the outlawing of police profiling based on ethnicity, descent and skin colour, which committee experts said, was commonplace during traffic controls, border stops and identity checks.

Racial motives for crimes, recommended CERD, should be recorded and considered an aggravating factor.

Acknowledging the role the Netherlands played in the slave trade featured strongly in the report, which welcomed the independent investigation into the national history of slavery and revisions to the Dutch school curriculum, but asked that the Netherlands ‘actively promote awareness among the general public of the negative impact of Black Pete on the dignity and self-esteem of children and adults of African descent’.

CERD will begin its next session on 15 November.



Doctor fined €3,000 for prescribing fake Covid medication, others cautioned

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Healthcare inspectorate IGJ has cautioned 50 doctors who gave their patients misleading information about Covid-19 or the vaccine.

Ten doctors were told they could face disciplinary measures if they persisted, while one was fined €3,000 fine for prescribing inappropriate medication.

The inspectorate received some 200 reports about doctors who spread disinformation since March last year, all of which were followed up.

The doctors in question not only tried to influence their patients but promoted unscientific views on social media, the inspectorate found. The breaches of professional guidelines included ‘disputing commonly accepted scientific information, promoting the use of medication which did not comply to professional standards [and] actively advising people not to take the vaccine.’

Doctors who refused to wear masks or who issued false medical statements exempting people from the obligation to wear one were also cautioned.

The inspectorate said it respects freedom of opinion, including that of doctors, but it is their duty to make sure any information given to patients is based on fact.

‘Handing out information which is evidently wrong or even spreading conspiracy theories is definitely not part of this,’ the inspectorate said.



Coronavirus cases flatlining, hospital numbers and deaths down

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Another 2,878 coronavirus cases were reported by the public health agency RIVM, almost identical to the figure for last Wednesday. In the past week the number of positive tests has increased by 2%, while the positive test rate has dropped to 12.7% from more than 14% at the weekend.

There were 643 coronavirus patients in hospital on Wednesday morning, a drop of 28 in the last 24 hours, of whom 207 are being treated in intensive care, five fewer than on Tuesday.

In the last week the RIVM has recorded an average of five deaths a day from Covid-19, down from seven a week ago, while the number of nursing homes recording an infection in the previous 14 days has gone down from 151 to 138.



Applying to Schools in the Netherlands workshop set for Sept. 9

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Students looking to continue their studies in the Netherlands are urged to sign up for and attend the free online workshop organized by Student Support Services Division of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport and entitled “Applying to Schools in the Netherlands.”

This workshop is aimed at students from all the sections of the diverse education system on St. Maarten and will be held on Thursday, September 9, 2021, from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm. Vocational as well as academic tracts and schools with Dutch or English language instruction in the Netherlands will be covered.

According to SSSD officials, on St. Maarten there are students from varying educational backgrounds and students should know that the process of applying to schools is not the same for all students. They added that

with technology at our fingertips, for some students applying to schools in the Netherlands can be just a few clicks away and then waiting for an answer from the school while for others, however, the task of applying to schools can be daunting and they may not know where to start. Students also have to know the educational system in the Netherlands.

The “Applying to Schools in the Netherlands” workshop is aimed at students in the last two years of secondary school or recent graduates, in particular. Educational changes occur frequently in the Netherlands and it is important for students to know of such, SSSD officials said.

“Requirements for admissions may vary from school to school and admission may not be granted with a diploma or decent grades. For example some schools have interviews, language tests and other requirements and students should know this,” SSSD officials indicated.

Parents are urged to encourage their children to participate in this workshop. Students are encouraged to register, in advance, for the workshop so an invitation can be emailed to them. Students may also click on the link on the Student Support Services Division Facebook page to participate in the workshop. If parents or students have any questions on these workshops, they can contact the Student Support Services Division at telephone 543-1235 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

The Student Support Services Division (SSSD) provides services to students referred by the schools such as psychological services, counseling services, social work services, educational diagnostic services, speech language pathology services. SSSD also provides general services such as career services, parent sessions and crisis response.


Winair says Air Antilles Flights to Resume as Normal

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - Winair would like to inform its customer that Air Antilles has announced today that all flights will resume as normal. As per the release of Air Antilles the following was communicated:

The responses provided to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) by our company on the evolution of the procedures, which apply to our airworthiness-monitoring department, were considered to comply with the regulations in force

The company has always strived to work with the strictest compliance for regulations and with the highest level of safety for our passengers, unlike the fake news, which have circulated on certain media and social networks.

Winair is pleased to resume normal ATR operations to all our destinations effective September 06th, 2021.

Winair would like to apologies for any inconveniences these changes may have caused.

For any further details, passengers can contact our call center at +1 721 5454237 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


One of the largest criminal trials in Dutch history kicks off in the Bunker

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – One of the largest criminal proceedings ever in the Netherlands – the prosecution of 21 members of the Caloh Wagoh motorcycle gang for multiple murders – got under way on Monday morning.

The trial focuses on five murders and 11 attempted murders by ‘hit squads’ within the outlawed motorcycle club. Hearings are scheduled for the next six months at a secured courthouse in Amsterdam known as The Bunker.

Delano R., the founder and leader of the group, is the main suspect. According to the public prosecution service, he accepted contracts from organised crime leaders, including drugs boss Ridouan Taghi, to kill rivals and informants.

The Eris trial, as it has been dubbed, is larger than the Marengo trial, another ongoing court case which focuses on Taghi’s organisation. In that trial, 17 suspects, including Taghi, have been charged with a series of murders or attempted murders.

Dutch crime journalist and television presenter Peter R de Vries was shot and killed in July while he was supporting Nabil B, a crown witness in the Marengo trial. The prosecution in the Eris case opted not to charge Taghi to avoid making both trials unduly complicated.

The case file is already 50,000 pages. According to prosecutors, Caloh Wagoh had little regard for public safety as they carried out the murders, at one point turning up to the wrong house with a rocket launcher.

Fortunately for the family living inside, the weapon malfunctioned. The current trial focuses on a series of murders or attempted murders between January and August 2017, but the group has been linked to a number of other serious crimes.

A Caloh Wagoh MC Main Triad member was arrested in 2018 for firing an anti-tank missile at an office block housing the Panorma and Nieuwe Revu magazines. The group is also thought to be responsible for the fully equipped torture chamber in a freight container that was discovered in Brabant last year.



LeasePlan first Dutch company to ask staff to return to work vaccinated

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The first Dutch company has said it requires all its staff to be fully vaccinated and to return to the office. The Financieele Dagblad reports on Monday that LeasePlan car rental company, which is based in Almere, wants office-based staff to return, fully jabbed.

Although it does not intend to check whether staff have had a vaccination it has reportedly told workers that hybrid working will end and ‘the new normal is back to the old normal’.

However, legal experts told the FD that it could be on slippery legal ground. ‘It is forbidden in the Netherlands to tell an employee that they must be vaccinated, even indirectly,’ senior employment lawyer Pascal Besselink of DAS told the FD.

‘Also, by assuming that employees will be honest about whether or not they are vaccinated could put other people in jeopardy.’ The FNV union has criticised the decision, telling the paper that employers should not exploit their position of power by trying to enforce vaccinations.

LeasePlan, which operates in 30 countries and has some 8,000 staff worldwide, has a team of around 1,000 in the Netherlands. It reportedly believes office work will again promote a ‘feeling of togetherness,’ cites the FD.



LATEST: NV GEBE Re-energizing Electrical Grid after Country-wide Blackout

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – (UPDATE 5.35PM) - NV GEBE announced that all districts are now back on the electrical grid.

(UPDATE 4.55PM) - NV GEBE in an update says that technicians at the Cay Bay Power Plant continue to be plagued with challenges that caused the country-wide blackout. Some areas have been re-energized, while others are still without power. The NV GEBE Team continue to work diligently in having these issues resolved in order to restore power to all areas of the country. (END OF UPDATE)

NV GEBE as of 3.00pm is in the process of re-energizing its electrical grid and by 4.30pm this should be completed, according to a statement released by the company on Sunday afternoon.

The NV GEBE statement said that minutes after 2.00pm on Sunday afternoon, an auxiliary system at the Cay Bay Power Plant failed and shut down all units which resulted in a country wide black out.

The engineers and technicians are in the process of repairing the system. The units will start back by 3.00pm and all areas will be re-energized by 4.30pm.


Fewer fast-growing businesses as pandemic hits entrepreneurs

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The coronavirus pandemic has had a dampening effect on business growth, according to new figures from the statistics agency CBS.

The number of fast-growing businesses, defined as one where the number of employees grows by at least 10% for three years in a row, declined by 17% in 2020.

In total 9,900 businesses qualified as fast-growing under the CBS’s definition, which includes takeovers but not mergers.

That compares to 11,800 the previous year and is the lowest total since 2016. Companies must have at least 10 staff in the first year to be included. The problem was particularly acute in the hotel and catering sector, where 40% fewer companies grew rapidly in a year when trade was hard hit by lockdown closures.

Small companies with less than 50 people on the payroll were most likely to grow during the pandemic, while software developers and childcare facilities were the only sectors which had more fast-growing companies in 2020 than the year before.

IT support companies were also in high demand as a result of people working from home.



Two police officers injured in shoot-out in Dordrecht

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Three people, including two police officers, have been injured in a shooting in Dordrecht. Officers were called out to reports of car theft and vandalism in Toulonselaan and Christiaan de Wetstraat at around 9pm on Wednesday, local broadcaster Rijnmond reported.

Video images from the scene showed at least 11 shots were fired, some by police, as the situation escalated. Three people were arrested within hours of the incident. One suspect and two officers were taken to hospital for treatment.

The town’s mayor, Wouter Kolff, said one of the police officers was seriously wounded in what he described as a ‘serious shooting incident’.


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