July 27, 2020

Horse helped determine law in the age of the Internet

Filed under: Animals,Dutch first,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:48 pm

It was 1914, there was a world war being fought, and a clever man thought he had found a way to smuggle a horse.

In that year, exporting horses from Azewijn, in the neutral Netherlands, to warring Germany was illegal. As local newspaper De Graafschap-bode told the story at the time:

L. Lueb, 32 years of age and farmer in Klein Netterden (Germany) is being tried for exporting a horse on 7 September 1914 from the municipality of Bergh across the border at Klein Netterden, by pulling said animal through the water of said canal towards the place from which he was pulling whilst standing on the German side of the border canal while the horse was on the other side of said canal, with clear intent and by means of a rope tied around the neck of said horse.

People used so many words in those days…

The courts could just smell that Mr Lueb was guilty, but legally, a whiff is not enough. A law needs to be found by which to convict a person. But more than that, they had to agree they had jurisdiction. The law rarely determines that somebody can be tried for something they did in another country.

The result was that the case ended up before the Dutch supreme court.

The original court held that not the location of the perpetrator, but rather the ‘exportable object’ determined the location of the crime, Haal Je Recht writes.

The appeals court disagreed and came up with a post-human solution: the rope is an extension of the arm, and the arm was on Dutch soil at the time of the crime. The Dutch supreme court reworded the verdict, but came pretty much to the same conclusion: one can use an instrument to act in a different place from where one currently is.

In our current day and age, it has become much easier to use an instrument to act in a different place. The supreme court referenced the Case of the Horse of Azewijn as recent as last year when it convicted skimmers who had tried to plunder Dutch bank accounts from an ATM in Milan, Italy.

In 1915, Mr Lueb was convicted to a prison sentence of three months. What happened to the horse, I don’t know.

Photo of he German – Dutch border canal near Netterden by Pieter Delicaat, some rights reserved.

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February 6, 2019

Dutch finally allow the registration of stillborn children

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 11:19 am

Baby-booties

As of February 10, parents of stillborn children in the Netherlands will have one of their dearest wishes come true: they will finally be able to register their babies in the Personal Records Database.

Although it is compulsory in the Netherlands to register the birth of a stillborn child, which applies if the child was born after 24 weeks of pregnancy, for many grieving parents, their baby was still considered ‘non existent’.

“A stillborn child does not exist in the registration of birth, but only in the registration of death”, according to Dutch law. The explanation is that the Personal Records Database is used to provide general data about people necessary for the government to execute its tasks, which means that it ‘doesn’t make sense’ to include data about a stillborn child in this system. However, back when this issue was up for discussion in Parliament, the Minister of Internal Affairs was unable to explain why this leads to the conclusion that registering the birth of this child was unnecessary as was issuing a birth certificate for them.

Losing a child is surely very traumatic, and being left with only a death certificate cannot possibly help alleviate parents’ grief in any way whatsoever. And since by law every child, born live or dead, must be registered after birth within three days according to Dutch law and international law, this practice runs counter to Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As well, making a distinction between liveborn and stillborn children is a violation of the right of the child to non-discrimination according to Article 2 of the CRC.

Anybody in the Netherlands who has had a stillborn baby can now register them retroactively, following a proper change in the law. The Dutch government estimated about 550 people a year who will register stillborns, while knowledge centre Stille Levens specialised in stillborns puts the number at around 800, based on figures from 2016.

(Links: nu.nl, leidenlawblog.nl, Photo of baby booties by Winam, some rights reserved)

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May 1, 2017

Labour tax credit is discriminatory, says professor Teunissen

Filed under: General,Religion by Branko Collin @ 12:03 am

coins-branko-collinLast January an appeals court in Den Bosch heard a couple from Landgraaf, Limburg who claims that couples of which only one partner works still have a right to the full labour tax credit for both partners.

Currently only people who work, either as an employee or as an entrepreneur, enjoy this arbeidskorting (employment credit). The maximum credit you can receive this year is 3,223 euro per person.

According to law professor Jos Teunissen, who represented the couple in court, this is discriminatory and a violation of human rights (the article doesn’t say which human rights are violated specifically — one assumes he is talking about Aticle 12 of the ECHR which guarantees the right of partners to found a family the way they see fit).

In an article for Reformatorisch Dagblad, Teunissen argues that families in which one partner works can pay as much as 5 times as much income tax as families in which both partners work.

Teunissen finds support from former junior minister for Finance Martin van Rooijen who thinks the labour tax credit is discriminatory towards pensioners. In a opinion piece for Trouw in 2015, Van Rooijen argues that discriminating against pensioners is discrimination on the basis of age, which is also plumb illegal.

The labour tax credit was introduced in 2001, when it helped to replace a generic credit. According to Teunissen in a recent article in Trouw, its goal is to stimulate labour force participation of women. It is probably not a huge surprise then that it is mostly opposed by religious parties.

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April 21, 2016

Shop experiment serving wine turns to sour grapes

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 10:06 am

Having a glass of wine at the hair salon and at some clothing shops in Amsterdam started as an experiment in January 2016. Rotterdam started in February and called it ‘Project Blending 010’ (why in English, don’t know – 010 is the area code for Rotterdam) and other places in the country called it ‘blurring’ (why in English, still don’t know) because the law says serving alcohol without a liquor license is illegal. So yes, the whole thing was illegal but tolerated – sound familiar?

The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) kicked off the experiment, but the Union of Liquor Store Owners (Slijtersunie) recently decided they were done being tolerant and decided to officially report the VNG to the authorities for breaking the law. The VNG is ‘surprised’ because talking it out is usually the Dutch way, but you can imagine there’s a lot more selling of alcohol at salons and shops than there is selling non-alcohol related products at the wine store. The experiment let shops serve and sell alcohol, while establishments that usually sell alcohol could sell shop products.

A lot of us were already having a drink with the lovely people who patiently cut our hair before any of this became a thing. And yes, it would probably help to make any kind of shopping more enjoyable. Maybe it’s time to change the law instead of forcing one group of Dutch businesses to have their turf invaded by another.

Or they could have a drink and talk it out till the cows come home Dutch style, who knows.

(Links: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, www.z24.nl, www.telegraaf.nl, Photo of Hair salon by Travel Salem, some rights reserved)

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July 12, 2015

Anti-gay loophole closed in Dutch anti-discrimination law

Filed under: Religion by Branko Collin @ 7:10 pm

A bizarre loophole that allowed religious schools to ban gay teachers was closed in the Netherlands on 1 July.

The law on equal treatment already forbade firing or refusing to hire teachers strictly because they are gay. An exception however existed for added circumstances, leading to the strange situation that a teacher could not be fired just for being gay, but could be fired for being gay and kissing somebody of their own gender.

In Dutch this exception was called the ‘enkelefeitconstructie’ (the ‘single fact construct’). The strange exception had remained in the 1994 law in order to keep Christian party CDA happy, but in 2014 almost all CDA MPs voted to remove it. According to the government, the exception has always been a dead letter, as no judge has ever allowed it to stand in a court of law.

Churches’ freedom to found religious, state-funded schools is considered part of the freedom of religion in the Netherlands and is enshrined in Article 23 of the constitution. Teachers can still be fired from religious schools for belonging to the wrong church, as three teachers from the Reformed Wartburg College found out last June after they were rebaptised by a different Protestant sect, AD writes.

See also: Church unlawfully fires woman for being transgender

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November 22, 2014

Mein Kampf vendor walks free, court keeps book

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:25 pm

“No, Michael, you are not allowed to sell Mein Kampf. No Paul, I am not going to punish Michael for selling Mein Kampf. Now run along, I’ve got important things to do.”

That paraphrased is how the court in Amsterdam ruled in the criminal hate speech case against book store owner Michiel van Eyck. As we wrote earlier, Van Eyck was charged with criminal hate speech in June this year after police detectives visited his book store in Amsterdam, the Totalitarian Art Gallery, and confiscated his copy of Mein Kampf.

The court concluded that Van Eyck’s actions differ little from those of the market vendor found guilty by the same court in 1998 for selling a copy of Mein Kampf. The times, they are a-changin’, the judges felt. They pointed out that the text of Mein Kampf is readily available on the Internet (presumably even more so than in 1998) and noted that the copyright on Mein Kampf runs out after 2015. From 2016 on the Dutch government will have even more difficulty controlling the distribution of the work.

Hate speech laws are an exception to the right to free speech. The court had to keep in mind that this exception can only be invoked in case of a ‘pressing social need’. In other words the right to free speech trumps criminal law if the goals of the law aren’t sufficiently advanced by limiting speech.

As a result the court found Van Eyck to be guilty as charged, but at the same time it held Van Eyck to be outside the reach of both prosecution and punishment.

Mein Kampf is the orginal German title of a book by Adolf Hitler. It means My Struggle. The court put Van Eyck’s copy of Mein Kampf with its own files so it doesn’t have to decide what to do with it.

Below are a number of interesting quotes from the verdict with my comments italicized:

  • “The book Mein Kampf, consisting of two parts, was confiscated by us in the store at Singel 37 in Amsterdam. It was displayed in a glass case in the store next to other memorabilia.” – (Unnamed detective.)
  • “The question is also whether a conviction of the suspect agrees with article 10 ECHR, which protects everybody’s freedom of expression.” Interestingly the Dutch constitution has a similar provision, but courts are not allowed to test the constitution. As a result, the court must ironically fall back on the laws of a body that is hostile to Dutch sovereignty, the Council of Europe.
  • “It is a known fact that Mein Kampf is clearly an insulting book to (most of all) Jews and that it incites hatred, discrimination and violence against this group.” This statement by the court seems awkward. If a book incites hatred and discrimination, it is insulting to everybody. The reason why the court uses these precise yet awkward words is simply because it is the insult (of a group) which is punishable by law.
  • “[The prosecutor wants Van Eyck’s copy to be removed from circulation, but gives us no legal reason to do so.] Before this session the chair of the court has ordered the prosecutor to enter the copy as evidence. The prosecutor has complied. In doing so the copy of Mein Kampf has become part of the files of this case and is therefore no longer an object that requires this court’s attention.”

(Link: Parool)

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September 30, 2014

iPads are ‘means of communication’, not computers or phones

Filed under: Gadgets,Technology by Orangemaster @ 9:44 am

In late 2012 a Dutch court ruled that iPads were not phones and that angered broadcaster RTL Nederland because that meant they would owe back taxes to the tune of 323,687 euro on 664 iPads with Vodafone subscriptions given to their employees for Christmas.

RTL appealed the ruling at the time, and yesterday a higher court overturned the decision and ruled that not only are iPads not phones, they are also not computers: they are “means of communication.” The clincher is that the law also prescribes categories of devices that are applicable to be taxed, including “phones, Internet and such communication devices.”

The iPad is a fancy tin can with a string attached to it that is not primarily used to do all your work on, giving RTL a reason to pop open some champers.

(Link: webwereld.nl)

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April 11, 2014

EU outlaws private copies from illegal source; government eager to comply

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:07 am

towers-cjeu-press-photosThe Court of Justice of the European Union decided yesterday that the Dutch practice of allowing downloads from an illegal source is itself illegal, Tweakers.net writes.

The court followed the hypothesis of advocate general Pedro Cruz Villalón who felt that the Dutch attitude caused “the mass distribution of illegal materials”. A spokesperson for the Dutch government told NRC that this makes downloading from an illegal source “illegal right away”.

The case was a continuation of one we wrote about earlier, in which manufacturers of blank media argued that since many copies came from illegal sources, the levies they had to pay shouldn’t be so high.

Dutch copyright law contains an exemption that says that copies made for private use are not infringing, regardless of whether the author was paid or not. Member of parliament Astrid Oosenbrug (PvdA) was surprised by the speed with which the government announced a ban on downloading: “That is of course not how things are done.” According to her, the government should explore alternatives first, such as raising levies.

Oosenbrug told 24 Oranges: “PvdA is against a ban on downloading. Citizens should be able to freely use the Internet. We also want to protect the makers, but we shouldn’t do that with bans. Instead we should stimulate legal download models such as Netflix, Spotify, Deezer and so on.”

The Pirate Party’s Dirk Poot (not represented in parliament) called for a drastic revision of copyright law and added that “the government’s attitude is made abundantly clear by the fact that it outlaws downloading as of today, but does not eliminate the levies on blank media with similar haste.”

TL/DR: Copyright law was once a matter between authors and publishers. Now it’s just a mess and everybody’s made to suffer except large publishers and lawyers.

(Photo of the court’s towers by Court of Justice of the European Union / G. Fessy, used with permission)

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February 24, 2014

Our robotic overlords have lost their fining privileges, Leeuwarden court declares

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 12:46 am

The Dutch state can no longer fine motorists automatically for lacking insurance, Volkskrant reported on Saturday.

An enterprising judge in Leeuwarden wanted to know the name of prolific civil servant number 404040 who had booked 280,000 motorists in 2013. It turned out that number 404040 was a computer which in the eyes of the court was problematic. There is this pesky thing, you know, called the law, that says only humans can hand out fines.

RDW, the independent governmental service that collects the fines, is already studying how to avoid paying back the nice chunk of cash that it has stolen from the public. Last year alone the service collected 109 million euro illegally. In the future RDW will simply perjure themselves and put the ID of the civil servant who happens to be in the same building as computer number 404040 is on the fines.

Last year the public prosecutor tried to imprison a woman for not insuring her non-existent car.

Last week RTL Nieuws revealed that the government hardly ever prosecutes crimes committed by civil servants even though civil servants are required by law—there’s that pesky law again–to report crimes. It took RTL Nieuws a couple of years to collect the figures—they needed to use freedom of information requests to get at the information. (As you may know, the Dutch government is perfectly happy to be transparent about the times they do not break the law.) In total only 36 of 411 possible crimes were prosecuted.

Last December Transparency International declared the Netherlands one of the ten least corrupt countries in the world.

See also: Speed cameras wrongly fine motorists for years

(Photo by Heiloo Online, some rights reserved)

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February 7, 2014

Banning weed smoking legal despite weed being illegal

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 2:27 pm

In 2011 Amsterdam challenged and eventually won in high court the right to designate certain areas as as non-pot smoking zones. Rotterdam recently challenged the law as well and has also won its case. If smoking pot in these areas is deemed unsafe, then it becomes a matter of public order and can be legally enforced, as long as the cities take this up in their local public ordinance.

The reason why this wasn’t cut and dry was that the Opium Law governing soft drugs basically states that marijuana is illegal, again something many people still don’t know because the law is willfully ignored. And since marijuana is illegal you can’t forbid it again, as that would be crazy talk.

However, due to the oddness of the Dutch situation both cities now have a workaround. Stopping people from smoking altogether is often enough, but in many places people are allowed to smoke outside, regardless of how funny their cigarette smells.

(Link: www.nieuws.nl, Photo of No-blow (and no drinking) sign by Erik Joling, some rights reserved)

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