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Dutch internet providers told to make speed estimates more realistic

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Internet providers in the Netherlands have been told they must be more accurate about the speed of internet connections they are selling from January 1 next year.

In addition, providers may no longer advertise maximum speeds which are not actually achievable in practice, the Dutch competition and markets regulator ACM said on Monday.

The maximum and minimum upload and download times for fixed internet must be included in contracts and providers will also have to commit to a ‘normally available’ speed, which must be reached in eight of 10 times over a week.

Estimated speeds will be acceptable for mobile internet. The rule will first be applied to new contracts but from March will have to be included in all contracts for both the domestic and consumer market. The new rules stem from European legislation on net neutrality. (DutchNews)

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Schiphol airport runs trials of pre-booked security checks

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Schiphol airport is to allow some passengers travelling within the Schengen open border zone to book a time slot to go through security controls.

Trials of the Personal Security Pass will run until December 11. Passengers can reserve a 15-minute slot using the airport app if their flights are between 10am and 1.30pm and if they are travelling to one of the 26 Schengen countries.

The reservation is free and can be made for up to five people. Security personal will process 30 people in each 15 minute block and up to 400 people can use a security pass a day.

If the system is successful, it will become a permanent fixture. Schiphol says the aim is to ‘improve the Schiphol travel experience and reduce waiting times.’

A spokesman told the AD the scheme had been inspired by systems used by museums and amusement parks such as Disneyland Paris, ‘where it has become normal to reserve a time slot in advance.’

Schiphol also recently introduced super-fast security checks for people with only small amounts of hand baggage in an effort to speed up controls. (DutchNews)

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Boy, 14, gets toughest youth sentence for raping and killing girl, 14

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The 14-year-old boy who raped and murdered his schoolmate Romy this summer has been sentenced to one year’s youth detention followed by a period in a youth psychiatric unit by judges in Utrecht.

This is the toughest option open to the courts in the case of an offender under the age of 16. After seven years in a youth psychiatric clinic, the sentence can be extended into an adult facility.

Romy was found dead in a nature reserve in Achterveld on June 2 after disappearing on her way home from school. The boy was arrested two days later. Both teenagers were at a special school in nearby Barneveld.

The boy has admitted raping and strangling Romy and pushing her body into a ditch. The court described the boy as ‘a small child in an adult’s body’ and said had ‘extremely worrying’ complex problems.

‘He will continue to need his parent’s support,’ Telegraaf journalist Saskia Belleman quoted the judges as saying. Meanwhile, the 17-year-old boy suspected of murdering 14-year-old Savannah Dekker this summer has been remanded in custody until January 26.

Savannah was found dead in a ditch on an industrial estate several days after she disappeared on her way home from school. The fact that the two girls disappeared around the same time and just 20 kilometres apart led at the time to speculation that they may have become the victims of a serial killer. (DutchNews)

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Dutch least likely of all eurozone residents to use cash

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch are the least likely of all Eurozone Europeans to use cash, according to a new report by the European central bank on the use of cash by households in the euro area.

The Dutch use cash in 45% of shop transactions, compared with an average of 79% in the entire Eurozone. Cash is particularly popular in southern European states, Germany and Austria, the central bank said.

The Netherlands is the only country in the Eurozone where cashless payments outstrip notes and coins. Estonia is next on the list, with payments split 50:50 between digital systems and cash.

The Netherlands has several retail chains which no longer accept cash payments, such as Marqt and the Vlaamse Broodhuis. Supermarkets like Albert Heijn are also introducing cash-free checkout desks and public transport in Amsterdam is poised to eradicate cash altogether later by 2018.

In 2015, Dutch banks and retailers signed a covenant to discourage the use of cash, which they say will boost the security and efficiency of the payment system. (DutchNews)

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Groningen fraternity member gets community service for initiation ritual violence

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A 24-year-old member of an undergraduate society in Groningen has been given 240 hours community service for his role in an initiation ceremony that left a fellow student with a serious head injury.

Wouter B was also given a 31 day jail term, 30 days suspended by judges in Groningen. The public prosecution service launched an investigation in October last year after an applicant to Groningen’s Vindicat fraternity allegedly had his head stamped on during the hazing ritual.

The incident prompted calls for initiation rituals at Dutch university societies to be better monitored or banned. Three Amsterdam students ended up in hospital two years ago after swimming in canals or sleeping rough among the bins in order to join a society.

The victim of the incident in Groningen initially declined to report the matter to the police because the society wanted to deal with it through its own disciplinary procedures.

But following an intervention by the city’s mayor Peter den Oudsten complaints were filed and a criminal investigation was launched. Vindicat has since deleted a clause in its constitution that forbids members from speaking out about the initiation rituals under threat of a €25,000 fine. (DutchNews)

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Polish woman gets compensation after womb op due to language issues

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A Polish woman living in Limburg has been awarded almost €34,000 in compensation after her womb was removed by a local hospital without her express permission, local broadcaster 1Limburg said.

The case dates back to 2013 when the woman, who does not speak Dutch, saw medical specialists from the VieCuri medical centre to discuss her prolapsed uterus. She had taken her partner and a friend to act as interpreters on the two hospital visits.

The gynaecologist recommended treatment using a pessary but the woman, who is now 39, herself asked for an operation which she thought would raise her uterus again.

Instead, in November 2013, the doctor removed her uterus entirely. Judges ruled that the doctor should have been more cautious in his approach because of the language barrier.

He had, for example, not made it explicitly clear to the woman she would no longer be able to have children nor had he asked her if she wanted to have more children. The court awarded the woman €33,699.91 in damages, of which €3,699.91 was to cover the cost of the operation and other fees.

The hospital has now said it will use an interpreter in future when dealing with patients who don’t speak sufficient Dutch or English. The International Community Advisory Platform is carrying out a new survey on healthcare in the Netherlands from the point of view of international workers and their families.

Here’s your chance to say what you think about doctors, health insurance and hospitals. (DutchNews)

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Geert Wilders plans Russia trip ‘to show we have patriots too’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – 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. (DutchNews)

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Health tops financial security as ingredient for the good life

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Over eight in 10 Dutch people regard good health as the most important factor in achieving a ‘good life’. Financial security follows in second place with 75% support and leisure time at 68% rounds up the top three.

The multiple answer online survey was conducted by market research bureau GfK and published on Wednesday. GfK said there was little difference between replies of men and women, although more women (86%) than men (77%) regarded health as important.

More than half of the Dutch respondents found other factors important in a good life. These included travel in their free time (62%), a happy marriage (61%), control over your own life (55%) and owning a home (54%).

However, having children was only considered key to a happy life for 48% of the Dutch respondents. GfK’s survey polled 23,000 respondents in 17 countries.

In global terms, health also topped the ranking, coming in at 78%, followed by financial security at 70% and leisure time at 64%.

Factors not seen as essential to the good life by all respondents included having a good job, a luxury or a second car and expensive clothes and jewellery. (DutchNews)

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Dutch terror threat unchanged, NCTV warns about women returnees

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The threat of terrorist attacks by people who have never travelled to IS territory is as great as the threat from jihadists who have returned to the Netherlands, according to the Dutch counter terrorism unit’s latest assessment.

The NCTV says IS is using the network of the Dutch nationals who joined the terrorist group to inspire the sympathisers who remained behind. This, the agency says, is particularly worrying because inspiring people in Europe to carry out attacks could be an alternative to organising jihadist cells from Syria and Iraq.

‘The Netherlands is named in IS propaganda as a legitimate target,’ NCTV chief Dick Schoof said. ‘Various Dutch or Dutch-speaking jihadis have threatened violence against the Netherlands in 2017,’ referring to the apparent threat to attack this summer’s women’s European football championships.

Nevertheless, the threat level in the Netherlands remains at four out of five, or substantial, the NCTV says. The NCTV says there are still around 135 Dutch nationals in IS territory, a number of whom are currently in refugee camps in Iraq and Syria.

The agency expects that women with their children will attempt to return to the Netherlands in the coming period. ‘These women will probably adopt the role of victim in order to reduce government attention for the risks’, says the NCTV.

However, since the summer IS has explicitly called on women to join the actual fighting and they too pose a serious risk, the NCTV said. The Dutch government has a policy of not providing any help to people wishing to return to the Netherlands from jihadi-controlled territory.

The Netherlands has so far avoided terrorist attacks such as those carried out in France, London and Belgium.

Far right

The new report also comments on the rise in violent threats from far right terrorist within Europe. While there are no signs of a similar rise in the Netherlands, the polarized climate in the Netherlands ‘could feed radicalisation and in some cases, lower the threshold for violence,’ the NCTV said. ‘This goes for all ideologies.’ (DutchNews)

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One in 10 primary school children sent home due to staff shortages

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – One in 10 primary school children was sent home last year because no substitute teacher could be found, while three quarters were taught by substitute staff at some point, the Algemeen Dagblad reports.

The figures are based on a survey among over 1,000 parents carried out by the Vervangingsfonds, a replacement fund into which schools pay a premium to finance substitute staff.

The survey also showed that two thirds of parents think children should never be sent home when there is no teacher present. However, a shortage of primary school teachers and changes to the employment law, is making it difficult for schools to find replacement staff, the paper writes.

Disruption

Parents say they are worried about disruption to their children’s education when replacement teachers are called in because they have different ways of teaching and are not always familiar with the methods used.

Some 75% of pupils were taught by substitute teachers last year while one in 10 were sent home for one or more days.  The Vervangingsfonds finds the figures ‘alarming’ while parent’s organisation Ouders & Onderwijs thinks sending children home is ‘undesirable’.

‘What are parents to do with their child when it is sent home? Schools don’t think about a plan B,’ advisor Dorine Wiersma told the paper. (DutchNews)

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