It's five years since the downing of MH17: What the papers say

Wednesday is five years to the day when flight MH17 from Schiphol to Kuala Lumpur was downed by a Russian Buk missile over Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Most of those who died were Dutch, and the Dutch newspapers and television current affairs shows are all paying considerable attention to the relatives of those who died in 2014 and to those who were involved in the aftermath of the disaster. The pending law case against four main suspects, which is due to start next year, is also given prominence. The four, three Russians and one Ukrainian, are said to have '‘cooperated to obtain and deploy the Buk [missile] at the firing location with the aim of shooting down an aircraft'. The Volkskrant  spoke to the people who led the MH7 Taskforce and whose job it was to get the bodies back to the Netherlands and press for the prosecution of the people responsible. ‘Not everyone was interested in getting at the truth and achieving justice. The investigation was plagued by disinformation. Some people spread doubts and that was picked up on,’ Taskforce coordinator Michael Pistecky told the paper. Pistecky cites American journalist Patrick Lancaster in particular who he accuses of being on the side of the ‘not rebels, not  separatists but bandits who were involved in downing MH17’. He, Pistecky says, was spreading rumours about remaining bone fragments on the crash site, implying the Dutch forensic team did not do a good job. ‘That is horrible for the relatives. As if we haven’t done our utmost to get the bodies back,’ he said. Compensation According to civil law professor Arno Akkermans in the NRC, the upcoming case will be ‘the most important moment’ for the relatives who want to see justice done. ‘The case, where they will be allowed to speak and which will hopefully provide clarity about what exactly happened, will meet the needs of the relatives more than any other legal procedure’, the paper writes. However, procedures for compensation have little chance of success, said Akkermans, who dismissed lawyers who talk of millions in compensation as practicing ‘fairy tale justice’ with a ‘Postcode lottery revenue model’. Relatives The Telegraaf interviewed Piet Ploeg whose brother Alex’s remains were never identified. ‘I am convinced that the efforts of the Dutch government, the prosecution office and the  joint investigation team are painstaking and it is the details that count. But it is bizarre to discover that nothing remains of Alex,’ he told the paper. Ploeg said the ‘lying and cheating’ by the Russians is a constant source of anger and frustration for the family and friends of the victims. ‘They keep turning the whys and wherefores over in their minds as they try to pick up their daily lives. It’s not easy.’  More >

1.2 million Dutch hit by cyber crime

Some 1.2 million people in the Netherlands were affected by some sort of internet-related crime last year, the national statistics agency CBS said on Wednesday. The CBS bases its claim on a survey of some 38,000 people over the age of 12. It found some 12% of the under-25s were the victims of cyber crime, compared to just 4% of the over-65s. By far the biggest group - 4.6% of the total - said they had lost money via phishing or other scams. Some 1.8% they had been hacked, 1.4% were the victims of online stalking or bullying, 1% had to deal with identity fraud and 0.7% sex-related online crime. The research also showed that the victims of cyber crime often don't bother to report the incidents to the police. Around a quarter of people whose identity was stolen or who were the victims of a buying scam said they had reported the incident, but just 3% of hacking victims had done so. Cyber crime victims said they did not report the incidents because they did not consider them serious enough, or thought reporting would not do any good.  More >

'5G roll-out will need 10,000 antennas'

Legislation paving the way for the roll-out of super fast 5G internet services in the Netherlands requires Dutch local authorities to cooperate with the placement of thousands of small antennas on buildings, on lamp posts and on traffic lights. Councils will be forced to comply to ensure that companies 'can offer trend-setting services' such as self-driving cars, the AD reported. 5G antennas, known as small cells, have already been placed on some buildings but will become much more visible in the run-up to 2022, when 5G services are due to start up on a wide scale. There are currently some 46,000 mobile antennas in the Netherlands, but tens of thousands more are likely to be added to the total, the AD said. 5G uses higher frequency waves than earlier mobile networks and these waves travel shorter distances in urban spaces. This means the networks require more transmitters, closer to ground level. Despite fears that the presence of so many antennas could have an impact on public health, ministers say there is no evidence that this is the case, the paper said. Nevertheless, the Dutch telecoms agency will continue to monitor exposure to electro-magnetic radiation. Ministers are due to publish the guidelines for companies wishing to provide 5G services in the Netherlands later this year.  More >

Housing rents rise again, increase slows

New tenants are paying an average of 3.1% more for their homes than they would have done a year ago, according to research by housing platform Pararius. The average second quarter rent rise is the lowest since the second quarter of 2015, and the slow-down is particularly notable in Amsterdam, where the increase was just 2.8%, Pararius said. In The Hague, rents rose 4%, in Utrecht 0.3% and in Rotterdam, 2.8%, Pararius said. In Eindhoven, however, rents were up 7.3%. Nevertheless, people living in the Netherlands' fifth biggest city can still rent a 65 square metre home for €957 a month. In Amsterdam, such a property would cost an average of €1,522. In both Amsterdam and The Hague, the city councils are increasing their grip on the supply of housing costing between €720 (the social housing level) and €1,000, by introducing new income requirements and rules for developers. The government too is planning to take action on a national scale and home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren is due to publish her plans in the autumn. 'This will only put off institutional and private investors, when they are the very people needed to build more more homes,' Pararius director Jasper de Groot said. 'If investors don't know what they are getting into because the rules keep changing, then the risk becomes too big.' The Pararius research also shows that rents for family homes have risen by 9.2% compared with a year ago, while apartments cost were up 1.7% in price.  More >

VVD overtakes Forum in latest polls

Both the right-wing liberal VVD and the Labour party (PvdA) have increased their support in the latest poll of polls, each adding the equivalent of three parliamentary seats to their backing. The poll of polls, based on an amalgam of four several separate polls, says the VVD would emerge as the biggest party with between 18% and 21% support and winning up to 31 seats. Right-wing nationalist party Forum voor Democratie is down slightly at 13% to 17%, or 20 to 26 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. Poll compiler Tom Louwerse says the VVD has benefited from the more positive attitude towards the four-party coalition, due in part to the recently agreed climate and pension agreements. Research by I&O published last week suggested that voters praise the way the difficult issues have been tackled, Louwerse said. The VVD won 33 seats at the 2017 general election. The rise in support for the Labour party is likely to come from the party's strong performance in the European elections, due to the Frans Timmermans effect, Louwerse said. Support for Geert Wilders anti-immigration PVV and the Socialist Party continues to fade. Both parties lost all their MEPs in the May vote. The PVV can count on the backing of 5% to 7% of voters, the SP, 4% to 7%.  More >

Police problems can't be solved overnight

Dutch police chief Erik Akerboom has told television talk show Jinek it would be an illusion to think problems within the force can be eradicated within a few years. Akerboom was commenting on claims by former police advisor Carel Boers, who said last week the police are failing to tackle a culture of discrimination and bullying. Boers, who was hired to advise the force on its diversity policy, said he had witnessed officers using derogatory language about citizens, including racial slurs, and being openly disparaging about colleagues from minority ethnic backgrounds. 'It's quite normal in the police for people to say: "You're a Moroccan and I'm never going to trust you",' he wrote in a letter to justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus. Boers accused Akerboom of refusing to acknowledge or deal with the problem. 'Akerboom's leadership consists of systematically avoiding any kind of conflict. It is more important for him not to make mistakes than to do the right thing,' he said. However, Akerboom told Jinek he was busy trying stamp out racism, intimidation and inappropriate sexual behaviour on a daily basis. Such problems, he said, are part of society in general. 'We are only human,' the police chief told the show. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that there had been 1,500 internal investigations into police officers, many of which revolved around questions of integrity. 'But the image that we are a racist police force, with a racist leadership, is wrong. There is no question of that,' he said.  More >

Dijsselbloem IMF job boost: Handelsblatt

German paper Handelsblatt is reporting that the German government is 'positive' about former Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem's nomination for the IMF top job. Dijsselbloem's name has been put forward to replace Christine Lagarde, who is set to take over at the European central bank. Anonymous EU sources have told the paper that Dijsselbloem has a good reputation in his former role as head of the euro group and that Berlin is therefore sympathetic to his potential appointment. Dijsselbloem led the euro group from 2013 to 2017, during the crisis in Greece, but had to step down when the Labour party lost the 2017 elections. Handelsblatt said that Dijsselbloem is sorely missed by some members of the euro zone because of his tough approach. Current Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra made Dijsselbloem's candidacy official on Friday and, according to Handelblatt, the Dutch have been campaigning on in his behalf in several European capitals.  More >

Women not willing to travel far to work

Women are less willing than men to travel long distances to work and this may be restricting their career opportunities, according to research using figures gleaned from the state jobs agency UWV. The research, by ABN Amro economists, shows that women are willing to travel an average of no more than 28 kilometres to work, but men will commute up to 49 kilometres. This means that women are looking in an area a third the size of men for a job. 'People who want to look for a job closer to home have fewer options to choose from,' ABN Amro economist Sandra Phlippen told the AD. 'And research in France shows that women's unwillingness to travel long distances is responsible for 10% of the pay gap.' The research team did try to take the fact that 'typically female jobs' such as hair-dressing are usually found closer to home, but it did prove difficult, Phlippen told the AD. In addition, the analysis also showed that people with college and university degrees are, as a whole, willing to travel further to work. ABN Amro expects travel distances will play an increasingly important part in efforts to encourage people to take up hard-to-fill vacancies in the future. By removing barriers to travel, such as offering home working options and advertising in other areas, employers will be able to expand their pool of potential workers, Phlippen said.  More >