January 20, 2009

Squatters driven out by thugs, police puts them back in

Filed under: Architecture,General by Branko Collin @ 3:29 pm

Last Sunday a group of thugs who were sharing a building complex in the Kinkerstraat in Amsterdam with a group of squatters drove out the latter with the use of force, wounding three of the squatters. At the end of the fight, the police installed the squatters back in the building, and arrested 14 members of both groups. One of the squatters was taken to a hospital with a double fractured jaw.

The squatters told Parool (Dutch) that the thugs spoke Russian with each other and partly consisted of builders that were staying nearby. Quote thinks (Dutch) that the owner of the Vinkzicht buildings, Cornelis Komen, may have paid the thugs to drive off the squatters. Komen denies the allegations.

The buildings have had no designated use since 1972 until Komen bought the six buildings in 1999 for 1.6 million euro each, with the plan to wreck them and build a hotel in their stead. That plan came under heavy fire from the neighbourhood, which managed to convince city hall to declare the gables monuments.

The top floors of the buildings are rented out in so-called anti-squat constructions where a tenant gets a short-term lease typically at a low price. Sometimes, you can score magnificently large housing this way for a price way below the going rate of the average shoebox an Amsterdam resident calls their castle, though I hear that with the housing shortage in the city even the anti-squat rates have gone up.

Squatting is mainly legal in the Netherlands (albeit often frowned upon) because of a constitutional right to domestic peace. The police may not invade your home, even if your means to acquire the home may have been less than legal. The house owner must then go to court and prove they have a pressing need with their property to get the squatters evicted. Neighbours tend to prefer squatters over slowly decaying houses.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard of thugs being used to evict people. The university grapevine in Nijmegen had stories of students being evicted this way, but I cannot remember a single proven one.

This is one of those stories that spawns two new questions for every answer you find, so I’d rather field any actual questions our readers have.

Totally off-topic: many congratulations to Orangemaster for getting her Dutch driver’s license! Wootalicious!

Link: Radio Netherlands, the only medium I could find so far that thinks the fight was between two groups of squatters.

(Photo of the Kinkerstraat by Wikimedia user Ilonamay, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , , , ,

November 5, 2008

Journalists and bloggers could get equal legal protection

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:07 am
Journalism vs blogging

Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch-Ballin has submitted a bill to the Dutch Lower House so that journalists obtain the legal right not to reveal their sources. The interesting part is that anyone who publishes for a broader audience will be protected under this law – including bloggers. The bill is designed to put an end to the situation where journalists are jailed for not revealing their sources.

Back in 2006, two journalists from Dutch daily De Telegraaf were imprisoned for not revealing the source who told them about state secrets of the AIVD (General Intelligence and Security Service of the Netherlands) because they revealed information about a top criminal who was their source.

However, having a broad definition of who exactly is a journalist is quite practical. “European jurisprudence shows that protecting one’s source is not just for professional reporters, but also for amateurs and bloggers who can claim to be protecting a source.”

The photo about was taken during the Blog08 event in Amsterdam when a panel of well-known European journalists debated the journalism vs. blogging question. They were not very fond of bloggers as a primary source, although now it seems the law might actually provide bloggers with more leverage in the future.

(Link: webwereld.nl)

Tags: , , ,

January 23, 2008

Tony’s Chocolonely punished after all

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 12:29 pm

Last year journalist Teun van de Keuken failed to get convicted for complicity in slavery, as we reported back then. But now Van de Keuken’s campaign has led to at least one indictment, although probably not of the kind he was looking for: the Dutch Media Authority (Commissariaat voor de Media) has fined his broadcaster for illegal product placement.

Van de Keuken set out to raise awareness for the fact that the people harvesting cocoa, the raw material of which chocolate is made, are basically slaves. He did this by turning himself in after eating a bar of chocolate, making him complicit of slavery. The case was dismissed because the court held he was not an aggrieved party. Van de Keuken also produced his own brand of slave-free chocolate, Tony’s Chocolonely, which he talked about on his show.

Product placement is illegal on Dutch television, and the Dutch Media Authority is the watchdog that tries to ferret out any instances of it. It does not matter whether the placed products are for a good cause, but the fact that petty issues trump major ones must be bitter for those who want to see new forms of slavery banned. The DMA had some pity though, and in recognition of “this unique and experimental program” reduced the fine to EUR 20,000, the lowest in its ‘range’.

(Via print magazine De Journalist. See also Molblog (Dutch))

Tags: , , , , , ,