Dutch Press Review Tuesday 29 May 2012

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Syria is put under the spotlight today. Child pornography and abuse also feature in many of the papers, with separate reports on internet porn in the Netherlands and abroad - and a convicted Dutch Nazi dies in freedom.[media:factfile]

Syria: condemnation
A couple of today’s papers give prominent coverage to the situation in Syria. Trouw runs a front-page photograph of rows of bodies in a mosque - “the victims of the massacre in Houla”.

The headline asks, “When will Moscow have had enough of Bashar al-Assad?” The paper thinks that Russia is not yet willing to drop “its last ally in the Middle East”.

Trouw reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has not yet ruled out “provocation” from the rebel side and is calling for a thorough investigation into what went on at Houla. Despite this, he admits government troops used tanks and artillery against the town and has joined in international condemnation of the violence.

De Volkskrant, which puts the story on page two, also picks up on the fact that Russia and China have for the first time voted for a UN Security Council resolution denouncing the use of tanks and artillery by the Syrian army. It says Western countries are hoping to convince Russia to up the pressure on the Syrian government.

Webcam child porn
De Volkskrant devotes half of its front page to a photo of Franzel. The headline, “Child Prostitution: Cyber crime in the Philippines” sums up his story. He is, we are told, “a boy of 16 who has been a prostitute since the age of nine, working among other things with webcam sex”.

On an inside page, we are told that cyber child porn is a new source of income in the Philippines. Jessica (12) was forced by her aunt and uncle to strip in front of the webcam. “It is the world of Robert M,” says the report, referring to the convicted central figure in the recent child sex abuse scandal in the Netherlands. As well as abusing the very young children in his care, he also made use of webcam pornography.

“Cyber sex for payment is on the increase in the Philippines,” says nrc.next in a similar report. “Mothers think it’s easy money. Their daughters join in.”

The paper also makes the connection to the Netherlands, pointing out that, under Dutch law, it is now illegal to view child pornography via webcams. Those flouting the law face four years in prison, with people who habitually use webcams for child porn and those who earn money from it facing eight years. They also risk a 78,000-euro fine.

The report goes on to explain that it’s not known whether anyone has been prosecuted yet in the Netherlands for “cyber sex” with children from abroad. It says most cases involve Dutch youngsters who are “forced to strip in front of the webcam” and that most prosecutions are brought after parents report incidents to the police.

Child abuse at home
Child sex abuse also hits the front page of AD but this time it’s not cyber crime and it is very much here in the Netherlands. A 42-year-old teacher at a primary school in a village in the east of the country has been suspended after allegedly assaulting two girls aged about 12.

The paper says the man was accused of abusing four young children five years ago but that he was not screened before getting his latest job at the primary school. “We didn’t screen temporary staff,” the school’s head teacher tells the paper. “The procedure has been changed, but the damage has now been done.”

De Telegraaf, meanwhile, runs a prominent report that police are recruiting students to act as bait for criminals operating via internet dating and chat sites.

The students are said to be very effective and get to work after a short training course. They pick up on suspect conversations and approaches made by ‘lover boys’ – young men who prey on vulnerable girls with a view to putting them to work as prostitutes.

“Not only paedophiles and lover boys, but also swindlers are turning more and more to the internet,” explains a police spokesperson. The police are getting better at tracking down the cyber criminals but it takes a lot of time to train officers to do the work. “That’s why we’re using students who are very much at home on the internet.”

A German scandal
The news that Dutch Nazi war criminal Klaas Carel Faber “has died in freedom” gets the front-page treatment in De Telegraaf. He was given life by a Dutch court for murders carried out as part of a SS hit squad. The Dutch SS unit targetted innocent civilians in retribution for attacks by the resistance when the country was occupied by the Nazis in the Second World War.

Faber escaped from Dutch prison in 1952 and fled to Germany where he was able to claim citizenship as a former member of the SS. We are told that the 90-year-old collaborator had lived carefree for more than half a century in Bavaria, without the German authorities ever putting him behind bars, despite repeated requests for his extradition to the Netherlands.

“An absolute scandal. Germany protected this person rather than throwing him in prison,” Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem tells the paper.