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The Netherlands faces a shortage of police officers as thousands retire

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands is facing a shortage of police officers because thousands are retiring and too few are being recruited, the Volkskrant said on Wednesday.

Some 14,000 policemen will be retiring in the next seven years but just 1,000 new recruits are being signed up every a year, the paper said. The problem affects night patrols and the police presence in rural areas in particular.

Police union chairman Jan Struijs told the paper: ‘We have brought this to the attention of the police authorities but the answer always was: there is no money. We’re getting a bit more now but it’s not enough.

I hope the politicians finally open their eyes to the problem.’ The new government has allocated an extra €267m for policing.

Justice Minister Ferdinand Grappenhaus (CDA), who is debating the justice ministry budget with MPs on Wednesday and Thursday, plans to create an extra 480 full time jobs and 200 extra police academy places with €100m of the extra spending. (DutchNews)

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Police urged to get tough on pro-Piet activists in blackface

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Anti-racism campaigner Sylvana Simons has called on the police to take the intimidation of people by pro-Zwarte Piet activists who are dressed up in blackface make-up more seriously.

Earlier this month four men dressed up as Zwarte Piet went to Simon’s house address in Amsterdam. She was not home at the time but described the action by ‘unrecognisable, unknown men’ as ‘threatening and intimidating.

The video the men made of their ‘visit’ includes Simon’s address, which has also put her in danger, the former television presenter said. Last Saturday Simons received a death threat in which the perpetrator said that he now ‘knew where she lived’.

A suspect has now been arrested. The same group also invaded a primary school in Utrecht last week which does not include Zwarte Piet in the Sinterklaas festivities and had to be told to leave by teachers.

The group’s leader Hugo Kuijper, a former member of anti-Islam group Pegida, told the Volkskrant he had not been approached or questioned by police about either action.

International

The discussion about Zwarte Piet has also blown up in the foreign press. This week, the Washington Post newspaper has published an opinion piece stating ‘the Netherlands racist blackface tradition needs to go.’

‘Speaking of extremes, some folks in the Netherlands think Zwarte Piet is so important, they get married in blackface, columnist Karen Attiah said. (DutchNews)

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Education minister wants more focus on ‘citizenship’ at school

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch cabinet wants schools to focus more on ‘citizenship’, reports broadcaster NOS on Tuesday.

Arie Slob, education minister and a member of the ChristenUnie party, has written to MPs to say the subject needs ‘further strengthening’.

He cited the results of an international study which showed that Dutch children had slightly lower levels of knowledge about their society than ‘comparable countries’, reports the NOS.

The study tested secondary schoolchildren in 24 countries and their knowledge of democracy, social norms, social participation and identity.

Dutch schoolchildren met the international average but were less aware on average than contemporaries in Flemish-speaking Belgium and Scandinavian countries.

Slob said in the letter that this is ‘not reassuring’ and wants to make it clearer how schools should deal with issues of citizenship – a subject that is part of the new government’s manifesto. (DutchNews)

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Curvin George new director Youth care and Family Supervision

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - As of January 2018, Curvin George has been appointed as the new director of Youth care and Family Supervision Carbibbean Netherlands (CN) after a thorough selection procedure. He is currently director of the Guardianship Council CN. He has fulfilled this position since July 2013, before that he worked as senior council researcher at the Guardianship Council.

In recent years, Curvin George helped to build the organization and improve the quality. This year, the Inspectionfor  Youth Care found that the quality of the Guardianship Council CN is satisfactory. This means that research in the interests of the safety of the children in Caribbean Netherlands is up to standard.

He has brought the justice chain together in the context of juvenile crime. In this project, three models of intervention in juvenile crime were set up in cooperation with, among others, KPCN. He succeeded, after more than 10 years, to bring all directors of Guardianship Councils from the region together in Aruba. The aim of this was to achieve uniformity in work and to formulate a common goal.

In his new position Curvin George will be involved in youth care in the Caribbean Netherlands. Curvin George: "The youth care is an important sector in the Caribbean Netherlands that deserves attention over the next few years".

The application process for the post of director Guardianship Council will be  started soon. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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JOLLIFICATION MEANT TO STRENGTHEN AND RESTORE SENSE OF WELLBEING, SAYS SFPO

PHILIPSBURG - “Jollification is a Caribbean tradition where neighbors and friends would come together to assist in a community effort in exchange for support, a hot meal and drinks would be provided.  Within several neighborhoods across St. Martin, people have been observed coming together to eat, drink and enjoy good music.

This jollification could perhaps be viewed as a local coping strategy and a source of healing and rebuilding,” according to the St. Maarten Foundation For Psychologists & “Orthopedagogen” (SFPO).

SFPO officials cited the former founder and president of the St. Martin Nation Building Foundation, drs. Leopold James who said, in the Today newspaper in 2012, “Jollifications were a major part of our culture and our development as a people.  They took place mostly on Sundays when men and women from different villages would come together to collectively help build a home, reap harvest or even butcher animals.   It was to a large part because of this tradition that the St. Martin people were able to survive, to build their homes and to survive in general.”

Historically speaking, jollification came into existence because of negative environmental circumstances (severe hurricanes, drought, famine) which reinforced a community of sharing and caring, whereby persons engaged in cooperative activities. “The St. Martin community is currently faced with various hardships because of the devastating effects of Irma, which require a unified approach towards the rebuilding of our nation,” SFPO officials stated.

SFPO therefore suggested that the jollification practices observed can perhaps be increased across more neighborhoods in St. Martin, by consciously inviting neighbors and friends to small gatherings to eat for example baked or fried Johnny cakes, drink bush tea and play dominoes. “In times past, people of the community came together to execute a task, in exchange for food, drink and merriment. This type of jollification might also be worthy of further exploration during the present time,” SFPO officials noted.

SFPO officials  emphasized  that “a culture of sharing and caring, through jollification gestures is a traditional practice passed down through the generations, meant to give us strength and to restore a general sense of wellbeing during difficult and challenging circumstances.”

The St. Maarten Foundation for Psychologists and "Orthopedagogen"(SFPO) consists of a board of local professionals. The board’s purpose is to support continuing, culture sensitive education, practice and research in the field of pedagogy and psychology and to build professional relationships with professionals within the field in the region in order to develop psychological practices relevant to the Caribbean region.

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40 hours’ work order for telling Zwarte Piet campaigners to ‘go work as slaves’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A man who posted a racist message on Facebook in response to a demonstration against Zwarte Piet has been ordered to carry out 40 hours’ unpaid work.

The 31-year-old man from Lelystad said protesters at the welcoming parade in 2015 should be ‘put to work again as slaves’, adding: ‘work off that lazy sweat, nikker, that’s what you were born for.’

The message was one of 50 out of 19,000 posts highlighted by activists in the first case to use social media activity as the basis for a charge of offensive behaviour towards a group.

A lawyer for the campaigners told the district court in Utrecht that the messages were discriminatory, threatening and incited hatred. The court sentenced the man to a 40-hour compulsory work order, 20 hours of which were suspended.

The prosecution service is bringing cases against nine people altogether for posting offensive messages.

Previous cases involving tweets and online posts have focused on direct threats or inflammatory language, such as the messages sent to politician Sylvana Simons when she joined the minorities’ rights party Denk.

One of the campaigners involved in today’s case said it would send out ‘a signal to society that racist and violent statements will not be accepted’. (DutchNews)

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Bahamas to Host APEX Technology Convention for Caribbean Justice Sector

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - Leading jurists, attorneys and legal professionals from across the region will gather in The Bahamas this month for a special convention focused on technology innovations for improving justice delivery in the Caribbean.

The convention, to be held on November 27, will be hosted by APEX, a Caribbean not-for-profit agency established by the Caribbean Court of Justice in 2016 to deliver technology and capacity development solutions for Caribbean courts, law offices and justice sector practitioners.

“We believe that the most relevant and cost-effective solutions for addressing current inefficiencies in the justice sector can best come from those who have an intimate knowledge and deep appreciation of the Caribbean environment," said Sir Dennis Byron, president of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

APEX is the Caribbean’s only non-profit dedicated to strengthening the administration of law and justice in the region. The agency’s first stakeholder convention aims to raise awareness of the current global and regional court-technology landscape.

“The APEX convention is a significant milestone for the Caribbean, presenting a new regional forum to showcase Caribbean-specific innovations for advancing court modernisation,” said Bevil Wooding, executive director of APEX.

“There are several factors behind the pervasive issues of delays and backlogs in the justice systems. A coordinated and technology-enabled Caribbean approach is a critical element in addressing these issues and improving the performance of Caribbean courts,” he added.

APEX has developed software for electronic case filing, case management and performance measurement that is already being used by Courts and law offices across the region, including Barbados, Belize, Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. The agency also has a unique governance model that includes jurists and legal practitioners from across the Caribbean, with institutional members drawn from the region’s courts, governments and law associations.

“With APEX, courts and justice sector stakeholders can now have a direct say in the development of systems to improve the quality of justice and the transparency and accountability of the justice sector across the Caribbean,” Byron said.

The inaugural APEX stakeholders’ convention will be held at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in conjunction with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Week. The event will be broadcast live over the Internet. (BY GERARD BEST)

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Central Committee Meeting about USM scheduled for Tuesday

PHILIPSBURG – The coalition of Eight comprising of the United People’s (UP) party, the Democratic Party (DP) and Member of Parliament (MP) C. Brownbill, have requested a Central Committee meeting of Parliament regarding the University of St. Martin (USM).

This meeting has been set for Tuesday, November 28 at 10.00AM.

The USM Board have been invited to the House of Parliament to get the boards feedback on the motives for the closure of the university. 

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Former justice minister Fred Teeven is driving buses in Haarlem

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Former junior justice Minister Fred Teeven is working part-time as a bus driver, the Telegraaf said on Friday.

Teeven, who resigned over a deal made with a drugs baron, left active politics at the March general election. ‘I am doing the driver’s job part time and have just completed my introduction course,’ Teeven, who already had a heavy goods driving licence, told the paper.

‘I had been thinking about becoming a long distance lorry driver but when I got the chance to do this 1.5 days a week, I jumped at it.’ Once Teeven has completed his training he will drive buses in the Haarlem region, a spokesman for regional bus firm Connexxion told website Nu.nl.

The rest of the time, Teeven has started a consultancy in the field of security and cyber-crime, the paper said. (DutchNews)

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Netherlands increasingly popular with foreign tourists, says CBS

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands is increasingly popular with foreign tourists: 12.4 million of them visited in the first eight months of the year, an increase of more than 13% over the year-earlier period, the national statistics office CBS said on Thursday.

In particular, the number of Asian tourists jumped 25% to 900,000, the CBS said. The tourism sector is growing faster than the Dutch economy itself and last year, it provided jobs for more than 540,000 people, the CBS said.  

The 5.5% rise in tourists in the Netherlands last year also outstripped the EU average rise of 4.6%. The increase in people visiting Dutch towns and cities was largely to tourists from the neighbouring countries of Germany, Britain and Belgium.

More than 75% of all foreign tourists visiting the Netherlands in 2016 were European.

Global increase

Internationally, tourism has increased by an average 4.8% a year since the 2008 global economic crisis, according to a joint report published by the World Tourism Organisation and the CBS.

2016 was the seventh consecutive year in which global tourism figures showed an increase. The number of foreign tourists worldwide increased by 3.9% to more than 2.1 billion in 2016, with Asia and Oceania benefiting the most with 8% more foreign tourists. (DutchNews)

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