After the murder of attorney Derk Wiersum in 2019 sounded: something like that should never happen again. Yet Tuesday journalist Peter R. de Vries was shot in broad daylight in the centre of Amsterdam. The motive is not yet clear, but a link to his role as confidant of the key witness in the Marengo process seems likely. Wiersum was the lawyer of the same crown witness. What should the Netherlands do against attacks like this?
After the murder of Wiersum, the government deducted EUR 100 million, including the security of judges and lawyers, as well as for raising the fight against drug criminals. Demissionary Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the approach to organised drug criminality “a matter of long breath” on Tuesday.
But hardening the battle is a wrong idea, according to law psychologist Peter van Koppen, who speaks Peter R. de Vries often. “There‘s some kind of Pavlov reaction of fighting harder,” he says. “It works very simple: the government is tackling drug trafficking harder, making drug trafficking more risky and therefore more lucrative, causing huge amounts of money.”
The Netherlands has known a world of organised drug crime for decades. But the old penose, according to investigative journalist Jan Tromp, who, together with Professor of Undermining Studies Pieter Tops, investigated the phenomenon for the municipality of Amsterdam, were far from so dangerous. “It was more organized,” he says. “It didn’t undermine, it was more self-contained and not so widespread.”
According to Tromp, a poorly visible shadow economy has emerged from those involved in drug trafficking. It is not rare that participants are very young and easy to persuade them to perform chores. And even receipts.
“There are plenty of young people in Amsterdam, often from more or less broken families, who see participation in that drug-related crime as a career perspective,” Tromp says. “There is an incredible amount of money to make, especially for their concepts. It goes so far that boys aged 15, 16 years old are being recruited for liquidation. They settle for a total of 1,500 euros for their regal amount.”
Jan Struijs, chairman of the Dutch Police Association, sees how the police are doing a good job in combating drug criminals, but ultimately cannot do much. “Ten percent we tackle, but ninety percent we don‘t tackle,” he says. “That’s because we don‘t have the time, the people and resources.”
According to Struijs, we are “sticking a bit of patches every time”. He advocates a fundamental and broad offensive. “We are bumping from incident to incident, but it has become normal for journalists, politicians and mayors to be threatened.”
Legal psychologist Van Koppen advocates an even harder approach. He recognizes the social background of crime. “Let’s try something else. The only thing you can see is that this approach makes no sense at all.”
He gets accident from the police. Jan Struijs also wants more attention to the social backgrounds of drug crime. “We have been devoted to the district as police, but at the same time youth care has been stripped. So there‘s a huge amount of money for organised crime to do all sorts of jobs.”
Ostrich even advocates watching drug release. “But combined with good health care and prevention.”
At least he sees nothing in an increasingly harder approach. “If you’re just repressive, you‘ll almost become a U.S. police. And you shouldn’t want to.”