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Dutch News
Netherlands News 2/5/2012

Leers gets tough on ''criminal foreigners''

Immigrants convicted of a crime and given a sentence of at least one night in jail or youth detention within one year of their arrival in the Netherlands will be stripped of their residency permits, if new immigration rules become law. Immigration minister Gerd Leers wants to make it easier to deport criminal foreigners so that they recognise ''criminal behaviour threatens their residency status'', the Volkskrant reports on Friday. Currently, the justice ministry uses a sliding scale to determine if criminal immigrants should be deported. At the moment, someone who has lived in the Netherlands for seven years can be stripped of their residency rights and deported if they commit a crime with a three-year jail term. However, experts say getting tougher on foreigners who commit crimes may conflict with European human rights treaties. For example, everyone has the right to a family life and deporting fathers would conflict with that, the paper says.

The big freeze continues, -22.9 Celsius in Markenesse

A temperature of as low as -22.9 Celsius was recorded in the village of Markenesse in Flevoland, east of Amsterdam on Friday night, the Telegraaf reports on Saturday. That is the coldest it has been in the Netherlands since the turn of the century, the paper says. Train services and public transport were still disrupted in some areas on Saturday following yesterday''s snow and the continuing freezing conditions. A number of flights have been cancelled at Amsterdam''s Schiphol airport. The weekend will remain very cold and dry, although coastal areas may have some snow on Sunday evening, the KNMI weather bureau says. But despite the continuing cold, skaters are being warned to avoid large open stretches of ice because the snow has hidden weak spots. Dozens of people have already been rescued after sinking through the ice.

Reduced rail services continue; its not our fault, says NS chief

Dutch Rail (NS) will operate reduced intercity services in much of the country on Sunday and Monday as efforts to reduce the effect of the cold weather on rail services continue. News agency ANP reports rail operator ProRail had hundreds of staff on duty overnight to try to keep crucial points ice-free. The Dutch railway system is separated into a passenger arm – the NS – and rail operator ProRail which runs the tracks. Both companies are 100% state-owned. As criticism of the chaos on the railways continued, NS chief executive Ingrid Thijssen told Radio 1 her company is not to blame for the problems. The NS had enough trains and personnel on standby but ‘the tracks did not do it’, she said, refering to ProRail. Transport minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen has asked both the NS and ProRail to explain the problems which led to thousands of passengers being stranded during and after Friday''s snowfall. Similar problems last year led the minister to bring in new guidelines for providing passenger information during bad weather. Rail users organisation Rover called on the minister to get tough on the NS for failing to provide proper information to passengers. ‘Last time they blamed special snow flakes, now it is hardened ice,’ spokesman Chris Vonk is quoted as saying in the Telegraaf. ‘Yet in the rest of Europe trains continue to operate without any problems whatever the temperature.’ The Netherlands is now officially in the grip of a cold spell because the temperature has not risen above zero since January 29 and the temperature at night has been as low as -10 Celsius for the third night in a row. There have been 32 official cold snaps since 1901, according to website weeronline.nl. On Sunday there were reduced speed limits on many roads because of the freezing conditions.

Immigrant youth more likely to have police contact: SCP

A new report by the government''s socio-cultural policy unit SCP paints a disturbing picture of the position of immigrant youngsters in Dutch society, according to television news companies which have seen a leaked copy.
The report, due to be published next week, shows that youths with a non-western background are much more likely to come into contact with the police than the native Dutch, the broadcasters say.
RTL News reports people of Antillean origin are most likely to be suspected of committing a crime, followed by people with a Moroccan and Surinamese background.
For example, 65% of Dutch Moroccan youths under the age of 23 have been questioned by police, which is a ''shocking'' fact, the SCP says. However, it is unknown how many of them were actually convicted of a crime, Nos television points out.

The SCP also looked at employment rates among immigrants as a whole. Some 12% of immigrants are jobless, compared with 4.5% of the native white Dutch. And according to RTL, non-western immigrants are six times as likely to claim basic welfare benefits.
And one third of immigrant children leave school without any qualifications, compared with 18% of the native population.
Nevertheless, there are some high points, RTL news states. For example, more children with an ethnic minority background are going on to higher education after leaving school.

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