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15/1 Soldiers may attend Afghanistan debate after all

15/1 Bait bike leads to arrest

14/1 Youth for Christ to republish vacancies

13/1 Paintings of the Zuidas

13/1 New Youth for Christ contoversy

11/1 Social cohesion initiative raises eyebrows

10/1 Fewer districts in 2010

10/1 Zuidas: People feel that we are losers

9/1 Fun on the ice - but not for all

9/1 Supermarket coupon fraud thwarted

9/1 I Amsterdam must remain exclusive

8/1 Use term Apartheid in every discussion

8/1 No city kiosk in Amsterdam yet

7/1 Snow

7/1 Fatima Elatik to run Zeeburg

7/1 Municipal managers to return to shop floor

4/1 Police: take photo of strange people

3/1 Gaza protest criticises politicians

1/1 Thousands to protest against attacks on Gaza

1/1 Mustapha Laboui leaves district council


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Questions about anti-discrimination policy

10 September 2007 - Fighting discrimination is not a top priority for municipalities, Amnesty International reported earlier this year. Both the PvdA and the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation FNV have asked questions. The Amsterdam Discrimination Complaints Office (MDA) has a rather positive view of Amsterdam’s policy.

Jerry Straub and Yman Mahrach (PvdA) have asked questions about how Amsterdam deals with discrimination last May. Because of a misunderstanding, these questions have not yet been answered, but the alderman has assured that this will happen soon, Straub said.

He would ‘really like to think’ that fighting discrimination is a top priority for Amsterdam, the council member said, but for now he says that efforts should be stepped up.

As an example, he points to the door policy panel, a joint effort with bars and clubs to make criteria to admit or reject visitors more transparent. In Amsterdam, eleven businesses participate in this panel, comparing to almost forty in Groningen.

“If we want to be a top city, we have to make sure that more businesses participate in the door policy panel”, Straub said. He is considering submitting a proposal to make participation in the panel a condition for granting or renewing licenses.

Jessica Silversmith, director of the MDA, says that Amsterdam’s anti-discrimination policy compares favourably to other municipalities. Especially way in which the MDA, the city administration and the judiciary collaborate is considered as an example for other municipalities.

The fact that fewer businesses participate in the door policy panel can be explained by the fact that the policy is part of a broader security plan in Groningen, according to Silversmith. Businesses that participate in the security plan automatically participate in the door policy panel as well.

The municipality’s own staffing policy can be improved by making recruitment more transparent. Also, quantifiable targets should be set, Silversmith said.

She is not very enthusiastic about positive action, because this tends not to be very effective. In addition, there is a lot of resistance against such policies, both among the general population and among the ethnic minorities who are supposed to benefit.

She further finds that the municipality as well as districts should set an example by handling citizen’s complaints in a correct and uniform manner.

The FNV wants to know whether municipalities are going to adopt the recommendations made by Amnesty International. “We are going to the council chambers, and in collaboration with Amnesty International, we are going to publish a booklet with interviews and examples of citizens who have been discriminated against”, policy advisor Daniel García Soto said last week.

Illustration: Jerry Straub (photo PvdA). Amnesty International report, questions by Straub and Mahrach, FNV response, MDA (all in Dutch)

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