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Journalists barred from asylum debate cry foul
The Dutch association of journalists NVJ and Omroep Flevoland is considering going to court because of emergency decree at public meetings, such as debates about asylum centers. An emergency ordinance means that the press can be denied access to the meeting, and the NVJ wants the court to stop this, BNR reports. According to the NVJ, an emergency decree is a "disproportionate" measure that is "alarming and unworthy of a democracy", a spokesperson said to the broadcaster. The association describes situations like in Heesch as "yet another case where the press is denied access and can't do it's monitoring and reporting job." On Thursday night an emergency decree was implemented at an information meeting in Luttelgeest about a possible second asylum center in the town. Only people who were invited were allowed in, everyone else, including journalists from Omroep Flevoland, could not get closer than a five kilometer radius around the area. Mayor Aucke van der Werff told the broadcaster that the journalists were kept out so that the Luttelgeest residents could express themselves freely about the possible arrival of another asylum center. "I asked the police to keep the broadcaster out, to be able to talk in peace with only the local residents after which we as municipality can make our decision", she said. According to the mayor, the local residents have the right to express themselves out of sight of the cameras. If the broadcasters were there, they might have been hesitant to speak because "they run the risk of being on the front page of a newspaper or prominently displayed on a local station the next day." Omroep Flevoland calls this a gross violation of press freedom and is therefore turning to the court. "We are hindered in the exercise of our profession, which is to follow what is happening in society and report on it", Allard Berends, chief editor at Omroep Flevoland said to BNR.