Soualiga Newsday Focus

Soualiga Newsday Focus (1395)

Dutch to make visiting terrorist-dominated areas a crime in itself

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – People who travel to areas ‘dominated by terrorists’ could face a jail term of up to one year if they do not have official permission to be there, if an amendment to the current penal code is passed by parliament. 

Journalists and aid workers will be free from such a requirement but everyone else will have to make a digital request for permission first, when the amendment, introduced by justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus, comes into force. 

Current jurisprudence makes it clear that people who stay in terrorist-dominated parts of Iraq or Syria are supporting terrorist organisations, the minister says. 

The aim of this legislation is to allow the public prosecution department to tackle people who return from other areas which may have become terrorist controlled, before jurisprudence has been built up. 

This is because they could be a danger to the Netherlands on their return, the minister said. The draft legislation has been submitted to the Council of State, the public prosecution department and the council for the judiciary for its opinion.(DutchNews)


Smokescreen? Crackdown on shisha lounges in Rotterdam suspected of criminal links

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Rotterdam is planning a crackdown on its 43 ‘shisha lounges’, after concerns about criminality surrounding the water pipe cafés. 

Bert Wijbenga, head of law enforcement at Rotterdam council, told RTV Rijnmond that the growth of the lounges and several serious incidents meant the council had to act. 

‘Looking at everything, we decided it was high tide to crack down on the bad sides of the shisha lounges in the city,’ he said. 

All establishments will now be rigorously checked for compliance with regulation around smoking rooms, the payment of tobacco duties and fire safety. 


Several people had minor injuries after a man planted a home-made bomb at shisha lounge Villa Blanca in central Rotterdam in December. Local police are currently investigating links between shisha cafés and criminals for a new report. 

‘We shouldn’t be naïve,’ said Wijbenga. ‘There are signs that too many shisha lounges have links with criminals, and that’s not good.’ Rotterdam is not the only city where these establishments have been linked to crime. 

In 2016, there were headlines across the world when the severed head of drugs gang member Nabil Amzieb was found outside the Fayrouz shisha lounge in Amsterdam.


Important week for the care in the Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - In the week from January 14thtill 18ththree agreements were closed between the Health Insurance Office BES and various health care providers. By the conclusion of these agreements another important step was taken in ensuring effective and high-quality care in the Caribbean Netherlands.


With Mental Health Caribbean (MHC) a renewed agreement was signed for 2019. In this agreement clear engagements were made about the quality of this, mostly ambulatory offered, health care. In combination with the recent opening of the Centre Hi5 for child and youth, this is a big step forward. 

Also in the field of hospital care in the region an important step was taken. With the Horacio Oduber Hospital (HOH) on Aruba new long-term agreements were made. In this the HOH was very willing to come to acceptable rates; a good development in the cooperation between health care providers and insurers within the countries of the Kingdom. 

General practice care

Primary care is in development. A year ago, a so-called Letter of Intent was signed with practice-keeping general practitioners on Bonaire. In this letter the first steps to a new structure were mentioned. 

Last year, steps in to further improvement health care on Bonaire were taken. This has resulted in a Memorandum of understanding signed by all parties. The final step is working out this MoU into an agreement, which will be further concretized in this quarter.


Changes in BES Healthcare Insurance claims as of January 1st, 2019

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - The BES Healthcare Insurance Office (Zorgverzekeringskantoor BES, hereinafter ZVK) announces that several elements of the BES Healthcare Insurance Claims Regulation (Regeling Aanspraken Zorgverzekering BES) have been changed as of January 1st, 2019. 

This has been effected in conjunction with changes in the basic package of the Healthcare Insurance Act (Zorgverzekeringswet) applicable in the Netherlands. 

It regards the clarification of a several claims and further requirements for some provisions. 

Not covered and covered

For instance, it has been clarified that a disability examination is deemed a medical examination. It is not reimbursed because medical examinations do not fall under general-practitioner care. 

Male and female sterilisation, dietetic preparations prescribed by a dietitian and remedial therapy for COPD are reimbursed. 

The reimbursement of repatriation costs of a deceased insured person also applies to transportation between the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands.


The personal contributions for orthopaedic and hypoallergenic shoes have been reduced. Insured persons aged 16 and older pay $50.00 per calendar year, insured persons under the age of 16 pay $25.00 per calendar year.


The claim for non-emergency patient transport - not by ambulance - has been extended: for oncological and kidney patients, the transport for consultations, examinations and check-ups is reimbursed as well.


The Information leaflet ‘Who is insured with the ZVK? What is covered by the healthcare insurance?’ contains a brief summary of the entitlements of persons insured with the ZVK. 

Detailed information on the healthcare insurance and claims which can lawfully be made on the basis of the BES Healthcare Insurance Claims Regulation is available on the website: www.zvkcn.nlunder ‘Care entitlements’.


Toddler, 2, still in hospital after Helmond high street shooting

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The two-year-old toddler hit by gunfire in Helmond on Monday afternoon remains in hospital where she is being treated for injuries to her leg, police have confirmed. 

The child was sitting on the back of her mother’s bike when she was hit by a bullet. A 15-year-old girl was also hit in the arm, but she was released on Monday after treatment. 

She had been walking to school with friends. The victims, both local, were hit when a gunman opened fire on a car at the junction of Helmondse Molenstraat and Noord Koninginnewal around 3.30 in the afternoon. 

‘It is quite shocking that this could happen in broad daylight on a shopping street,’ Helmond mayor Elly Blanksma said in a statement. ‘It is unacceptable that innocent children are hit by gun fire.’ 

Police are still trying to trace both the shooter who drove off at high speed, and the intended victim, who ran off leaving his car behind. A 23-year-old local man who was arrested on Tuesday afternoon was released on Tuesday evening and is no longer a suspect, police said.(DutchNews)


Coalition split as CDA, D66, ChristenUnie call for change to child refugee amnesty

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Three of the four Dutch coalition parties are now in favour of changes to the amnesty for well-rooted child refugees, saying the current situation is ‘untenable’. 

Some 400 children, many of whom were born in the Netherlands, are currently threatened with deportation because they don’t meet the terms of the amnesty, which was established in 2013. 

Campaigners and child rights groups say the rules – including the proviso that refugees cooperate with efforts to deport them – make it almost impossible to qualify. Very few children have benefited from the amnesty in the past five years. 

The Christian Democrats and D66 launched their campaign for change in interviews with the Dutch media on Saturday, and ChristenUnie leader Gert-Jan Segers then twittered his support.‘We recognise that the situation is not sustainable,’ CDA parliamentarian Madeleine van Toorenburg told Radio 1 news. Currently, missing a meeting with the immigration service can be enough to show that the family has not cooperated, she said in the AD. 

She said the two parties were now calling for change following the publication of a report by 38 professors which said children faced with deportation undergo extreme stress. 

Majority support 

The change of heart means there is now majority support in parliament for a rethink, broadcaster NOS said. The coalition parties want junior immigration minister Mark Harbers to go through all 400 cases on the ‘reject’ pile and use his discretionary powers to grant them the right to stay. 

Harbers, a member of the fourth coalition party, the VVD, told the NOS on Saturday afternoon that he had set up an independent commission to look at all aspects of the problem. ‘It is no secret that there are different thoughts about this subject within the coalition,’ he said. ‘That is why we have made agreements and they are in the coalition accord. That is my guide.’ 

Coalition agreement 

The VVD has always resisted changes to the amnesty rules. Prime minister Mark Rutte, also from the VVD, has not yet commented on the change of heart by his coalition partners but VVD parliamentarian Malik Azmani said that ‘everyone is free to think what they like’. 

‘We assume that the agreements made in the coalition agreement will be respected,’ his spokesman told the AD. 


Television presenter Tim Hofman, who has gathered over 250,000 signatures on a petition calling for a rethink, said: ‘The CDA has woken up. Godamm, what good news, unbelievable.’ 

Hofman was spurred into action following attempts to deport two Armenian children to Armenia, even though they had never lived there and did not speak the language. Howick and Lili were eventually granted residency rights.(DutchNews)


Minister Johnson congratulates Radio Broadcaster Bill D on 10th Anniversary Milestone

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson extends congratulations to SOS Radio 95.9 FM Director and Host Jacques ‘Billy D’ Hamlet and radio station staff on his 10thanniversary in broadcasting.

“I am an avid listener of SOS Radio and I have also been a guest on several occasions.  The station offers informative programs to educate radio listeners.  

“There were those in the broadcast arena who predicted the downfall of radio due to new media technologies, but radio remains a key vehicle for the dissemination of information and ‘Billy D’ has also moved with the times as broadcast and media technology continues to evolve, with the development of an app, SOS Radio SXM for his dedicated listeners.

“It takes a lot of dedication, determination, and perseverance to do what ‘Billy D’ has done over the past 10-years and continues to do today as a seasoned radio host.

“The content of the radio programming never gets old despite the age.  Radio is part of our past but is also part and parcel of our future.  Residents listen to the radio on a daily basis for their news and interesting talk by hosts.  

“He is a role model for others to look up too and learn about the broadcast industry.  Without a doubt, ‘Billy D’ is on track to set many more milestones in broadcasting.  

“I take this opportunity to wish him and his staff and volunteers all the best and much success for the future in broadcasting,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson said on Sunday.

SOS Radio 95.9 FM first started back on January 9, 2009. During the past decade, SOS Radio was identified as the number one radio station on St. Martin in two separate surveys.

SOS Radio celebrated its 10thanniversary on Friday, January 18.

SOS Radio is one of several radio stations on the north side of the island (French St. Martin) that has a large audience of listeners on Sint Maarten and the neighbouring islands and territories.


Crime drops but sexual violence reports up: police figures

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Total reported crime dropped 6% across the Netherlands last year, according to figures published on Friday by the Dutch police. 

There were around 766,000 offences, a fifth lower than the numbers in 2014. But although most areas of crime fell year-on-year, police noticed a 7% rise in reported sexual offences. 

In a press release, the force suggested this could be related to the increased social attention and openness around sexual violence, making people more likely to alert the police to an incident. 

There were particular increases in reports of rape, grooming and sexting. Robbery also increased by 4%, particularly what the police calls ‘hit and runs’. 

Jos van der Stap, country coordinator handling robberies, said: ‘There were relatively more robberies of supermarkets and food delivery firms, particularly in the last months of the year. These were mostly carried out by young people, doing an amateurish job.’ 

Invisible crime 

Pickpocketing, however, fell by more than a quarter and the police cited extra surveillance as a reason. However, the force acknowledged that reported crime does not tell the whole story. 

It said in a press release: ‘In recent years, there has been a clear shift to “invisible” criminality…which people do not report but which is still a social problem.’ 

This includes, for example, drug-related and online crime and socially ‘undermining’ businesses, for example laundering cash from the criminal underworld. 

A private police report last week, seen by Trouw last week, said that the ‘real’ crime figures were five times as high as the official levels. (DutchNews)


Possibility of extra money for AOV pensioners

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - The RCN-Unit of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) has introduced various measures to increase financial aid. For example, as of the 1st of January 2019 the benefits AOV, AWW and social relief have been increased by 5 percent in addition to inflation.

As of the 1st of January 2019, there is also a possibility to receive an additional supplement as a single older person if you have little or no income besides your AOV pension. 

This extra supplement is also available for married older persons if they have been cut in their AOV pension, for example because they have lived part of their working life outside the Caribbean Netherlands. 

The AOV recipients who, according to the SZW data are eligible for the extra supplement, have been approached by post. Persons who think that they are entitled to this supplement but who have not received the letter with application form, can contact the RCN unit SZW. 

In order to receive the supplement retroactively from the 1st of January 2019, the signed forms must be received by SZW before the 1st of March 2019. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)


RIVM to assist VROMI with air quality measurement surrounding the landfill

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - From 21 January 2019, a team from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) will travel to Sint Maarten for a period of 2 weeks, to assist the government (VROMI) to assess the potential health risks for the community in relation to landfill fires.

Frequent landfill fires in the recent past have been the subject of many complaints from various sectors of the community affected by the smoke. RIVM’s Environmental Incident Service has specialised equipment for taking measurements and samples. RIVM intends to use these to advise whether substances released from the fires may be harmful to community health in the long term.

This measurement and risk assessment work will be carried out on the instruction of VROMI. The investigation is being funded by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK). RIVM’s team will spend at least two weeks in the area, taking samples and making measurements.

Measurements and samples taken from smouldering fires and outbreaks of fire

RIVM will install equipment at the edge of the landfill for the purposes of taking air measurements and samples in relation to the continuously smouldering subsurface fires of the landfill. This measuring and sampling work will be carried out in the course of two weeks.

If during this period any outbreaks of fire occur, additional measuring sites will be set up. The exact locations of these sites will depend on factors such as the wind direction during the outbreak of fire. In such case, RIVM will take various types of samples. In addition to swipe samples of settled dust, special canisters will be used to obtain air samples. Airborne particulate matter samples will be measured, and where appropriate also grass and/or vegetation will be sampled.

The team always wears protective clothing when taking these types of samples, purely as a precaution. Any material collected will be stored under appropriate conditions.

Analysis and reporting procedures

The samples will be transported to the Netherlands in refrigerated containers. There, the samples will be analysed by various specialized laboratories at the RIKILT research institute in Wageningen, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and RIVM.

These analyses will involve testing the samples for specific toxic substances that can be harmful to people’s health in the long term. These include Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, dioxins, and heavy metals. Based on the results of these analyses, RIVM will then draw up a risk assessment.

RIVM will submit a report, containing the results and its risk assessment, to VROMI, and will publish the report on its website. This is currently scheduled for May 2019.


Information about RIVM’s operation on Sint Maarten can be found on its website: Journalists may contact RIVM’s Press Office at +31 30 274 3005.

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