The Hague tribunal finds Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

The Hague tribunal finds Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

The United Nations Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal in The Hague has sentenced former Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic to life in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity between 1992 and 1995, during the Yugoslavia civil war. In particular, the court found that Mladic was guilty of 'genocide and persecution, extermination, murder, and the inhumane act of forcible transfer in the area of Srebrenica in 1995'. Some 8,000 men and boys in the town were massacred when it was over-run by Mladic's forces in 1995. Srebrenica was under the protection of Dutch UN troops at the time. ‘Circumstances were brutal; those who tried to defend their homes were met with ruthless force. Mass executions occurred and some victims succumbed after being beaten. Many of the perpetrators who had captured Bosnian Muslims, showed little or no respect for human life or dignity,’ said presiding judge Alphons Orie. Mladic was removed from the courtroom half way through the verdict after calling for the tribunal’s findings to be either halted or speeded up because of his high blood pressure. When the court refused to agree, he began screaming and was taken to another room where he was able to follow proceedings. Mladic was arrested and brought to the Netherlands in 2011. His trial has taken 530 days spread over more than four years, it heard 591 witnesses and examined nearly 10,000 pieces of evidence concerning 106 crimes. Dutch foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra said: 'I welcome the ruling against Ratko Mladic. The war in Yugoslavia and the crimes in Srebrenica have left irreversible scars. I hope this verdict helps the next of kin to deal with their loss and suffering.' Wednesday's verdict helps close one of the most painful chapters in Dutch post war military history, but several other court cases involving the Dutch courts are still ongoing. Srebrenica This June, the Dutch state was found partly liable for the death of over 300 Muslim men who died in the massacre of Srebrenica by appeal court judges in The Hague. The 300 men and boys were inside the Dutch military base in the Muslim enclave when it was over-run by Bosnian Serb forces and now the Dutch state must pay their relatives compensation, the court said. However, the Netherlands was not found to be responsible for the death of 7,000 plus other men and boys who were outside the compound. The court said it would have been impossible for Dutch soldiers to have protected them when the Bosnian Serb forces began to round them up. Dutch soldiers Meanwhile, some 180 more Dutch army veterans have joined the fight for compensation from the state for sending them on ‘an impossible mission’ in Srebrenica. The soldiers were serving in the Dutch battalion Dutchbat III to protect the Muslim enclave. The veterans claim the Dutch government could have known the mission was impossible to execute and say the outside world has blamed them for not being able to prevent the massacre. This has caused them social, emotional and financial damage for which they now seek compensation. Read the complete tribunal ruling (in English)  More >

Court says 'yes, yes' to junk ad plan

Court says ‘yes, yes’ to Amsterdam advertising leaflet plan Amsterdam households will no longer have to deal with unwanted advertising leaflets in their letterboxes from next year, thanks to a court decision. From January 1, delivery firms will only be allowed to put advertising material through letter boxes with a 'ja, ja' sticker on them. Currently householders can put a 'nee, nee' or a 'ja/nee' sticker on their door, indicating they do not want advertising material and/or free newspapers delivered. 'You can put your 'no, no' stickers out for recycling,' the Amsterdam court said, announcing its decision. Amsterdam council has campaigned for the introduction of an opt in system for advertising leaflets but three companies took the issue to court. They claim the current opt out system works well and said shops and other businesses would suffer if advertising material is banned unless households expressly say they want to receive it. 'Those who want them, can still get advertising leaflets,' alderman Abdeluheb Choho said after the verdict. 'But by turning the system around, we will save a forest of unread paper.' Amsterdam is the first council in the country to introduce the 'ja, ja' sticker and hopes to save 1.8 million kilos of waste paper a year.  More >

Labour wants ban on Airbnb in capital

Rabobank misleading on world hunger claims, says ad standards body The Labour party in Amsterdam wants to stop Amsterdammers renting out their homes via holiday let platforms such as Airbnb. The measure is included in the party's manifesto for the local elections next March, the Parool reported on Wednesday. The capital's housing problems, in particular the shortage of affordable housing, are likely to have a key role in next year's vote. ‘Enough is enough. We are spending a lot of money on combating illegal lets but we can’t seem to get a grip on the nuisance holiday lets are causing. Meanwhile they are driving up house prices without any benefit to the city,’ local party leader Marjolein Moorman told the paper. Labour is so far the only party to have included a ban in its election programme. Other parties favour restrictions, such as a a limit of 30 days a year and have, according to the paper, expressed doubt about the feasibility of a ban. The city has struck deals with Airbnb and to limit holiday lets to 60 days a year. It has also introduced a register which all home owners have to sign each occasion they let out their homes.  More >

Staffing agency Randstad goes digital

Rabobank misleading on world hunger claims, says ad standards body Staffing agency giant Randstad is relocating dozens of smaller branches in the Netherlands from prime locations to industrial estates, in a push to go largely digital. From 2018, the Randstad branches in city centres will be limited to a number of ‘flagship stores’ in around 10 big cities. None of the other branches will close. Instead they will move to a new address, a Randstad spokesperson told the Volkskrant. The move will result in annual savings for the company of around €90 to €100m. In an interview with the Financieele Dagblad, Reiant Mulder, the director in charge of Dutch operations, said business was no longer reliant on people walking in from the street. ‘99% of searches for a new job start online. That includes people over the age of 50. The tempo in which people have switched to digital has taken us by surprise,’ he told the paper. Randstad is directing most of the freed up budget towards new technologies which will increase the chance of finding the right person for job. ‘Algorithms are telling us: this request for a worker matches this candidate,’ Mulder is quoted as saying.  The method is already used for low-skilled jobs but will now also be employed to place the highly skilled. The move does not mean any of the intermediaries who mediate between candidate and company, will be fired. They will be given a role in coaching and their number will be reduced as people leave the company, the paper writes. According to the Volkskrant, Randstad is anxious not to lose face-to-face contact with its clients. It quotes the company’s last annual report as saying that ‘57% of candidates thinks the hiring process is too automated, impersonal and only focused on transactions. We want to keep the personal connection where this is needed.’ But clients will have to travel further for an interview. ‘We are choosing sites which are easily reached by public transport,’ the spokesperson told the Volkskrant.  More >

Geert Wilders plans Russia trip

Rabobank misleading on world hunger claims, says ad standards body PVV leader and anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders has told Elsevier magazine he plans to visit Russia next year to offer a counterweight to the ‘hysterical Russia phobia’ which exists in parts of the Netherlands. Wilders said he has already been in talks with the Russian ambassador in The Hague about a potential programme for his trip. ‘Russia is not an enemy and we should not turn it into one,’ he said. Russia is an important ally in the war on terrorism and mass African immigration, he told the magazine. In particular, Wilders said plans to visit the Russian parliament to ‘show that we have patriots here as well’. The Netherlands can learn a lot from Russia about patriotism, he said. Last week Dutch home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren warned about Russian attempts to influence public opinion and spread fake news in the Netherlands.  More >