Dutch Press Review Wednesday 2 May 2012

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Human rights in Ukraine comes under the spotlight, courtesy of Euro 2012. Dutch youth is all the happier for toeing the parental line, there’s an internet manhunt and cannabis ‘weed pass’ emotions run high.[media:factfile]

Euro 2012 – the political game
“The first match has already begun” is nrc.next’s take on the growing chorus of European leaders threatening to boycott the Euro 2012 football championships in Ukraine. The metaphor goes on, as imprisoned opposition leader and former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, is dubbed Euro 2012’s winner “before a single goal has been scored”.

Like many of his European colleagues, caretaker foreign minister Uri Rosenthal says that, unless Tymoshenko’s treatment in prison improves, no Dutch government officials or members of the royal family will be attending Euro 2012 events in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, says nrc.next, hoped that hosting the soccer extravaganza – with all the “football diplomacy” involved - would mean Ukraine could soon “sail into the European Union port”. Now, with the threatened Euro 2012 boycott by EU leaders, the impoverished country is facing the prospect of becoming even more isolated, we’re told.

De Volkskrant points out that the foreign ministry is not putting the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) under pressure to pull out of Euro 2012. “That’s for the footballers to decide for themselves,” says Mr Rosenthal.

The paper also reports that a majority of Dutch MPs, leaving aside Ms Tymoshenko’s particular plight, think Ukraine’s general human rights situation is so bad that the Netherlands shouldn’t send official representatives to the country for Euro 2012. Only the conservative VVD party, we hear, is sticking to its standpoint of keeping “sport and politics apart”.

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Less booze and sex – our happy youth
On its front page, de Volkskrant treats us to some good news: Dutch youth are apparently becoming more well-behaved and healthy. An international survey carried out by the World Health Organisation indicates that young Dutch people are drinking, smoking and going out considerably less than they did just four years ago.

Compared to their contemporaries in Europe, the United States and Canada, Dutch youth are also now waiting till “a relatively late age” to go to bed with someone for the first time. Just 22 percent of 15-year-old girls and 19 percent of 15-year-old boys admit to already having had sex.

The dramatic reduction in youth drinking in the Netherlands is put down to parents, possibly shocked by information campaigns on binge drinking among the young, becoming stricter with their children. However, a doctor warns that, while average alcohol consumption may be going down, a worrying 750 young people were admitted to hospital emergency departments last year after drinking far too much.

AD accents the positive results of the WHO survey: “Kids doing well now that parents are stricter”, is its inside-page headline. Despite having to toe the parental line more, Dutch youngsters appear to be among the Western World’s happiest.

For the third time in a row, AD gloats, they’ve achieved the survey’s highest score for general satisfaction with life. Dutch children say they can talk easily with their parents and that they have lots of friends. They also enjoy school and do well there.

Social media manhunt
For its lead this morning, AD chooses the manhunt launched by police for two 19-year-old men who robbed and shot dead a jeweller in a shop in The Hague last Wednesday.

The police took the “exceptionally unusual” step yesterday of publicising their photographs and full names on the television and internet. Officers said they had no choice after the parents of the two men refused to disclose their whereabouts. Police say they have already received 200 tips about the case.

The paper reports that internet is playing a crucial role in the search for the two, who are thought to have fled to Belgium. Security camera footage of the armed robbery was placed on YouTube within days of the murder. Detectives were “amazed” that the clip got more than 70,000 hits.

The photos and names have apparently also “spread like an oil slick” over the web. “This would have been unthinkable a few years ago,” an officer tells AD. The paper says the way police in The Hague are using social media to help solve crime is “a major inspiration” to other forces in the Netherlands.

An experiment is to be launched in a number of Dutch cities, whereby the police will publicise details on ongoing investigations on the internet. The hope is that “internet Sherlock Holmeses” will follow cases, supplying the police with much-needed tips.

Weed pass empties coffeeshops
Trouw is the only paper to devote its front page to the fallout of yesterday’s introduction of the ‘weed pass’ in the south of the country. This sees ‘coffeeshops’ – outlets allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis products – becoming closed clubs, whose members have to be Dutch residents. The measure is designed to stop ‘drug tourism’ - foreigners crossing the border to buy cannabis in the Netherlands.

The paper says the first day of the weed pass witnessed high emotions as expected. There were demonstrations by disappointed would-be drug tourists in Maastricht. While some coffeeshops in southern cities closed for the day, saying they had no members – and forcing people to look for cannabis traders on the streets. Maastricht’s mayor, a vocal supporter of the weed pass, called the ploy “brazen”.

Two coffeeshops in Maastricht and Tilburg refused to obey the new law, serving soft drugs to anyone who came along. The outlets received official warnings. The paper reckons the owners want the police to close their businesses down so they can fight the new measure in the courts.

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