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‘Scum villages’: Amsterdam to exile lawbreakers to prison camps

Published time: December 04, 2012 08:43
Edited time: December 04, 2012 17:58
A container housing unit. Sreenshot from youtube.com @Ulftingenwest

A container housing unit. Sreenshot from youtube.com @Ulftingenwest

Amsterdam residents with a record of harassing their neighbors will be exiled, the city’s mayor announced. After being forced out, they will live under police supervision in special container housing units with only basic amenities.

­Authorities in the Dutch capital have formed a task force to identify the worst offenders behind the 13,000 complaints of antisocial behavior the city receives annually, Amsterdam-based daily Het Parool reported.

Those charged who defy a compulsory six-month course in the camps will face eviction and homelessness. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan has allocated an estimated 1.3 million euro to the project, which he argued will protect law-abiding residents from being forced to move by unruly neighbors.

The camp dwellers will supposedly be motivated to change their behavior after they return to the city, authorities said.

"The aim is not to reward people who behave badly with a new five-room home with a south-facing garden. This is supposed to be a deterrent,"
a mayoral spokesperson said.

Some have dubbed the camps ‘tuigdorpen’ – ‘scum villages’ – over their similarity to the rhetoric of right-wing anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom. Last year, Wilders said that “repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighborhood and sent to a village for scum.”

The controversial proposal sparked widespread debate, with the term becoming the Netherlands’ ‘word of the year’ in a poll conducted by Van Dale, the leading national dictionary.

The new policy will come into effect in January. There are several small-scale trial projects of a similar nature already underway in the Netherlands, including a location near Amsterdam where 10 shipping container homes have been set up for persistent offenders.

The world has an extensive record of communities evicting those seen as misfits: Jewish ghettos in Europe, Bantustans for blacks in apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union’s unofficial ‘rule of 101 km,’ which banned criminals, dissidents and work-dodgers from living closer than 100 kilometers from large cities.

The Netherlands is no exception – troublemakers in the 19th century were exiled to live in special villages in Drenthe and Overijssel outside Amsterdam.

Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders (AFP Photo)
Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders (AFP Photo)

The controversial proposal sparked widespread debate, with the term becoming the Netherlands’ ‘word of the year’ in a poll conducted by Van Dale, the leading national dictionary.

The new policy will come into effect in January. There are several small-scale trial projects of a similar nature already underway in the Netherlands, including a location near Amsterdam where 10 shipping container homes have been set up for persistent offenders.

The world has an extensive record of communities evicting those seen as misfits: Jewish ghettos in Europe, Bantustans for blacks in apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union’s unofficial ‘rule of 101 km,’ which banned criminals, dissidents and work-dodgers from living closer than 100 kilometers from large cities.

The Netherlands is no exception – troublemakers in the 19th century were exiled to live in special villages in Drenthe and Overijssel outside Amsterdam.