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

Too many parties and not enough influence spotlighted in political system report

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.  More >

Foreign criminals keen on early release

Too many parties and not enough influence spotlighted in political system report 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.  More >

Home buyers to get aircraft noise warning

Too many parties and not enough influence spotlighted in political system report People moving into new homes close to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport will be warned about aircraft noise before they move in, and the warning will become part of sales contracts, the Haarlems Dagblad has reported. Agreement on an official aircraft noise warning has been reached between junior infrastructure minister Sharon Dijksma, Schiphol airport, airline KLM and local and provincial governments, the paper says. While no new homes are being built directly under flight paths, thousands of houses are being built in areas where noise is likely to be a problem. In particular, 4,500 new homes are being built south-east of Amsterdam close to the Buitenveldert runway. Other projects in Zaandam, Badhoevedorp, Hoofddorp and Beverwijk will also have to take aircraft noise into consideration. The paper says that by warning potential residents about the aircraft noise, the sector will not be faced with extra costs and further expansion of housing stock will be made possible.   More >

More names added to new minister list

Too many parties and not enough influence spotlighted in political system report More names of potential ministers are circulating in the Dutch media on Wednesday morning, a week ahead of the formal presentation of the new cabinet. The new government will consist of 16 ministers plus eight junior ministers and prime minister Mark Rutte aims to present the new line-up on October 26. According to the Telegraaf, the current junior education minister Sander Dekker (VVD) is set to become justice minister while Carola Schouten, who was closely involved in the coalition agreement talks for ChristenUnie, will get the newly created job of agriculture minister. Agriculture is also likely to become a separate ministry - expanding the total number to 12, the paper said. Agriculture is currently part of economic affairs. Broadcaster NOS says its sources have confirmed that Rotterdam alderman Hugo de Jong will become health minister, with special responsibility for long-term care services. He is also the CDA's candidate for deputy prime minister, the broadcaster said. The new defence minister will be CDA stalwart Ank Bijleveld, who is currently king's commissioner in Overijssel. Amsterdam The first names of the four D66 ministers are also emerging. According to the Parool, Amsterdam alderman and deputy mayor Kasja Ollongren will get the home affairs job, and be D66's deputy prime minister. D66 MP Wouter Koolmees is tipped for social affairs and D66 will also get the position of aid minister, NOS says. Talks between potential ministers and party leader Alexander Pechtold are set to start on Wednesday. Earlier it emerged that VVD parliamentary party leader Halbe Zijlstra will get the foreign affairs job, Eric Wiebes, currently tax minister, will get economic affairs and climate, while CDA senator Wopke Hoestra will take over at finance.  More >

Dutch political system in the spotlight

Too many parties and not enough influence spotlighted in political system report The Dutch political system is fragmented, often does not reflect the majority view and  there is a real risk of digital influence, according to a government committee set up to examine vulnerabilities in the current parliamentary set-up. The committee, which started work in January, is charged with examining 'the desirability of change to the parliamentary system and parliamentary democracy.' On Wednesday, the committee published details of six key areas which it intends to study further. In particular, it will ask if citizens are being well-served by the members of the upper and lower houses of parliament. For example, parliamentary majorities can support issues which are not supported by a majority of the general population, the committee points out. The erosion of traditional parties will also be examined. Just 2.3% of the population are members of a political party, even though most politicians are recruited from them. The committee will look at the way coalition cabinets are formed - particularly with regard to the lack of transparency post elections. In addition, the risk of digital interference and the role of national governments at a time of increasing devolution and European decision-making will come under the spotlight. The role of the upper house of parliament, or senate will be looked into as well. The senate, traditionally viewed as a 'chamber of reflection' has become more political in recent years.  More >