Press review Friday 17 December 2010

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.

Today in Dutch papers: more revelations about the crèche sex abuse suspect, an ID system for buying marijuana comes a step closer to reality, a Dutch aid worker taken hostage in Afghanistan was a fundamental Christian, Dutch football is almost broke, and an angry man wants his mother kicked out of her grave.

Child sex abuse suspect has a previous conviction
Today’s papers share more revelations about Robert Mikelsons, the man arrested last week for sexually abusing dozens of children at crèches in Amsterdam. Most shockingly, he was convicted for possession of child pornography in Germany in 2003, but still managed to hand over the “certificate of good conduct” required for working with children in Holland because authorities do not have access to criminal records abroad. Trouw writes that Mikelsons spent only a couple of weeks in custody and was given a conditional three-year sentence. But when he moved to the Netherlands, the German authorities lost track of him.
AD reports Security and Justice Minister Fred Teeven thinks foreigners should be screened for convictions abroad. “It’s very important that all convictions in European member states are known in the Netherlands.”

Nrc.next goes back to his home town in Latvia, and finds out that he was a bit of a loner who was obsessed with children’s rights. The piece suggests there may have been a lack of love and affection in his family. According to de Volkskrant, he volunteered to work at an orphanage in Riga, but was sent away after just one day, because the staff “didn’t like him”. A similar picture crops up in Heidelberg where he also volunteered to work at a crèche according to AD. He complained about not being allowed to be alone with the children. There he was also sent away.

No card, no dope
The European Court of Justice has ruled that local councils in the Netherlands do have the right to introduce an ID system for residents of the Netherlands to buy marijuana at coffee shops. According to de Volkskrant, the court ruled that it’s only against the law to limit the freedom of movement of legal goods and persons not illegal ones. Since the sale of small quantities of marijuana in Dutch coffee shops is tolerated but not legal, this doesn’t apply. The court also ruled that the measure is justified because it aims to curb drug tourism.

This clears the way for local councils in the southern provinces of the Netherlands to introduce “weed passes” for residents to buy soft drugs. The city council of Maastricht says its 14 coffee shops attract a staggering 10,000 visitors a day, 70 percent of whom come from over the nearby German or Belgian borders. The drug tourism also attracts hard drugs and aggressive drug pushers, which in turn leads to disturbance of the peace, writes de Volkskrant.

There has been a recent spate of drug-related shootings in the south of the Netherlands and a local mayor was forced to go underground following threats. Nevertheless, local councils are divided about the effect of introducing an ID system. Maastricht council fears it could push the sale of soft drugs underground.

Former Dutch aid hostage is fundamental Christian
De Volkskrant reveals that a Dutch aid worker who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and recently released comes from an environment of fundamental Christians with strong ties to mission work. But combining aid with missionary work is banned in Afghanistan. Oosterhuis’ employer Streams Afghanistan has, not surprisingly, refused to say anything about its Christian activities in the war-torn country. In the past, aid workers who tried to convert Muslims have ended up in prison.

Peter Oosterhuis spent six weeks as a hostage in Afghanistan. At the time, Streams Afghanistan – and thus news outlets – were almost silent about the story to protect his safety. But the paper points out that Streams Afghanistan has been “extremely secretive about the reason for its silence concerning its aid worker”.

Now it appears that’s just as well. His close family and friends are members of an American church called Youth Storm which presents itself as a militaristic movement calling on people to become “servants of the revolution”. According to the paper, the name of the church is reminiscent of the NAZI movement in World War II. The Oosterhuis family runs the Dutch branch of the church, the Crossing Church.

Football finance woes
Dutch football is broke. According to nrc.next, figures to be presented today by the Dutch football association, the KNVB, are dramatic. The paper writes that the time when players in the Netherlands earned exorbitant salaries is over. For years premier division clubs have been outbidding each other for the best players, but now that foreign clubs have also run out of money, the party is over.

Football is no longer just a game; now it’s business too. Clubs have become multinationals, in which hundreds of millions of euros circulate. Professional footballers become multimillionaires by the age of twenty. But only one out of the 18 Dutch Premier League clubs is financially healthy. That is last year’s premier league champion FC Twente. Six clubs have been put under guardianship. The other 11 are under financial supervision.

The main cause of the financial malaise in football is the huge salaries paid to players. In some clubs, salaries make up 80 percent of the budget. In the past, Dutch clubs were able to off-set that by selling players for huge amounts of money on the overheated transfer market. But since the financial crisis, foreign clubs have also been struggling. The top ten European clubs have debts amounting to 4.4 billion Euros. Meanwhile television rights and advertising revenue have also slumped.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, writes the paper. Dutch clubs have hardly any debts, so if they really put their minds to it they can get back in the black.

“I want my mother out of my grave!”
AD reports that a man from the Province of South Holland wants his mother dug up and moved when his time comes. The man, in his fifties, says if he dies before 2015 when room can be made in the grave, his mother should be reburied elsewhere.

Needless to say, the man did not get on with his mum. When she died she was buried in her late husband’s grave. However, her son claims he bought the grave for himself and his father. The council admits officially they should have asked the man’s permission to bury his mother there. At the time the man had too much on his mind to say anything about it. He doesn’t seem to care what will happen to his mother’s body if it is moved, saying that his sister can sort that out. “I have a right to that grave: I paid for it, it is mine.”