Rutte again says the cabinet has no plans to change child refugee policy

Refugees at Ter Apel

The government has no plans to change the rules covering the amnesty for child refugees who have lived in the Netherlands for at least five years but still face deportation, prime minister Mark Rutte said at the weekend. Rutte was responding to the campaign by tv presenter and journalist Tim Hofman who has made a documentary about the impact of pending deportation on children, seen partly through the eyes of a young boy from Iraq. Rutte said that while he noted the new campaign, 'there are no proposals to change the policy'. The Netherlands, he says, has a tough but just refugee policy and that this involves being tough about people who do not have the right to a residency permit. 'Otherwise you will lose support in society,' Rutte said. The case of children who are going to school is a 'sensitive one', the prime minister said. 'You have to be tough towards parents who know that they cannot stay here, and yet continue to do so,' he said. 'They are responsible for their children. They know the risk they are taking.' Petition Hofman's petition had been signed almost 200,000 times by Monday morning, five times the number needed for the issue to be debated in parliament. Some 400 children are thought to be facing deportation even though they are well-rooted in the Netherlands, because they don't meet the terms of the amnesty. Children can qualify for the amnesty if they have lived in the Netherlands for more than five years, have been under the supervision of an official organisation and are under the age of 18, and if their parents have cooperated with efforts to send them back home. One of the stars of the documentary is an eight-year-old Iraqi boy named Nemr, who was born in the Netherlands but has not qualified for the amnesty. Hofman took Nemr to parliament where he asked leading politicians questions about why he was being sent to Iraq. Among them was VVD leader Klaas Dijkhoff who is shown bluntly telling Hofman 'yes, and?' when the Nemr says he fears that he will be killed. Dijkhoff later took to Twitter to defend his position, arguing that the comment had been taken out of context and that he had to be careful not to give the children false hope.  More >

Tax office sacks 15 for tax fraud

The tax office has sacked 15 members of staff since January 2017 for submitting fraudulent tax returns, the Telegraaf said on Friday. A further 20 workers are being investigated, the paper said. The tax office officials have attempted to cheat on their tax return like 'normal citizens' and have tried, for example, to hide assets which they hold abroad or make up deductibles, the paper said. A spokesman for the tax office said he did not know how many cases of tax offical tax fraud would be taken to court.   More >

Life in NL hard for Eritrean refugees

Eritrean refugees are having a difficult time adapting to life in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Institute for Social Research SCP said in a report published on Friday. The refugees, most of whom are fleeing from the open-ended compulsory military service in their country, are often traumatised by the long and dangerous journey they have made to the Netherlands, having faced exploitation and sexual abuse on the way, the SCP writes. Once in the Netherlands, the wait for a permanent residency status often leads to frustration and boredom. Learning Dutch, a requisite for a permanent status, is another stumbling block, with refugees unable to choose a suitable language school. Many of the 26 Eritreans interviewed by the SCP said they were worried about not being able to meet the three-year deadline for the ‘inburgerings exam’ which means they would have to pay back their loan and a fine on top. The Eritrean refugees, most of whom arrived in 2015, came to the Netherlands without their partners and getting family members to join them is proving more difficult than they have been led to believe, the SCP writes.  This is putting them under even more pressure. Officials Contacts with officialdom in the Netherlands is often difficult because the refugees are unable to explain what they need and complain about a lack of patience, understanding and help while organisations say they are confronted with mistrust and a lack of initiative. Most Eritreans have not been able to find a job. Professions that are familiar to them, such as baker, furniture maker or welder, are not accessible to them because they require diplomas. According to recent figures from national statistics office CBS, 80% of Eritrean refugees in the Netherlands are unemployed. Because of the lack of Dutch language skills social contacts are usually limited to fellow Eritreans, the SCP writes. Although an important source of emotional support it also means that Eritreans are in danger of becoming ‘trapped’ in their own culture which is not conducive to integration, the SCP said. There are some 20,000 Eritreans in the Netherlands, of whom around 75% are under the age of 30.  More >

A sunny but cold weekend ahead

This weekend will be sunny but cold, and the clear skies on Saturday night offer perfect conditions to watch falling stars from the Leonids meteor shower, weather forecasters say. Friday's mist will eventually clear to reveal a sunny day in most places, with temperatures reaching seven degrees in the west and 11 in the south of Limburg. The temperatures on Friday night will fall to as low as freezing point in the east of the country. Saturday and Sunday will be crisp and cold, with temperatures around seven degrees in most places and a light overnight frost in sheltered areas. Saturday night is also the best to watch the Leonid meteor shower which peaks on November 17 as the earth passes through the debris left by comet Tempel-Tuttle. Next week will be colder again with sunny spells and light sleet or snow possible on Wednesday. The KNMI weather bureau says cold, dry weather is likely to continue to the end of the month.  More >

Special court to try police violence cases

Statue of justice. Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus is keen to establish a special court to deal with cases involving police violence. A special court is needed because cases in which police are accused of using excessive force require specific expertise, Grapperhaus said. Police use violence almost exclusively in complex situations, he said, and judges with experience in such cases should examine them. The public prosecution department and the Council for the Judiciary do not support the minister and say all courts have the ability to look at cases of police violence. The government is also planning to reduce the maximum sentences for police who are found guilty of wrongly using violence. The crime of 'breaking the law on the use of violence' would then carry a maximum of three years in jail if passed, even if someone had died.   More >

Man arrested in quadruple murder probe

A 26-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the mass shooting earlier this week which left four people dead in Enschede, police say. The man was arrested near Dordrecht on Tuesday evening, a couple of hours after the bodies were found. A second man who was arrested with him has since been released. The man will appear in court later today for a remand hearing. The four men were found dead in a commercial property in Enschede which, according to chamber of commerce information, was home to a company selling equipment for growing plants on Tuesday afternoon. All four had been shot dead. It later emerged that two of the victims were being investigated by police in connection with the seizure of 17 kilos of marijuana on the premises this summer. One of the men, since identified by the AD as 61-year-old Max Klaasse, was sales rep for a plant feed company who was 'in the wrong place at the wrong time', the paper said.  More >

Police back tasers for emergency teams

Electric shock weapons such as tasers should become part of the equipment used by police officers on emergency service duty, police officials have recommended to the justice ministry. If approved by the minister, this would mean electric stun guns would be made available to all police teams which are called out on emergencies. It will take five years before the introduction because 17,000 officers need to undergo special training to use the weapons, police said on Thursday. In June, a report on a year long trial by the police academy found that tasers do have ‘added value’ for the police. Since the start of the trail in February 2017, tasers have been drawn 343 times and in 62% of cases, the threat of use was enough to calm the situation down, the report states. In February Amnesty International called for trial to be abandoned after it emerged that the devices had actually been used on suspects more than 100 times. Tasers work by firing electric charges of around 50,000 volts at a suspect from a distance, temporarily disabling them. Police say the danger of serious or permanent injury is minimal, but experts disagree on the risk to the heart.  More >

Two hand grenades left outside Almere cafe

Parts of central Almere were sealed off on Thursday morning as police explosives experts made safe two hand grenades which had been left on the Grote Markt. One handgrenade was found in a 'suspicious package' in front of a cafe on the square around 8am. The second grenade was found some 90 minutes later. Firemen and ambulances were also called to the scene, which was monitored by a police helicopter. The area was reopened to the public around 1.30pm. Hand grenades have been left outside cafes and other shops Amsterdam and Delft in recent weeks in what police say is likely to be a warning in ongoing gangland rivalries.   More >