NUJ sends condolences to the family and friends of Peter R De Vries
The Dutch crime reporter who was shot on the streets of Amsterdam last Thursday has died.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
“The NUJ sends condolences to the family and friends of Dutch crime reporter Peter R De Vries, who has died after being gunned down on the streets of Amsterdam last Thursday. The incident was deeply distressing and his death, heart-breaking for those who knew him, is a huge shock to the international press community. While his work brought him into contact with the criminal world, all journalists should have a right to work in safety. We pass on a message of solidarity to his colleagues in the Dutch Journalists’ Association (NVJ).”
NUJ Netherlands and the union’s Continental European Council said they were are saddened and angered at the news.
De Vries, 64, was shot five times at close range in a busy street in the centre of Amsterdam at 7.30 in the evening. He had just left the television studios of the programme RTL Boulevard where he had been taking part as a guest in a discussion programme.
While the motives of his assailants remain unclear, the context of the murder in daylight, in front of witnesses and emerging from a television studio sends a chilling message to all crime reporters. Peter De Vries, 64, had been acting as an advisor and spokesperson for a crown witness in a trial against members of a violent drugs gang.
Tony Sheldon, NUJ Netherlands chair, said:
“If journalists in this country become afraid to report the truth there can be no free press and democracy itself is threatened.”
The Saturday following the shooting another television programme was postponed after RTL Boulevard received telephone threats, deemed serious, from the criminal underworld. This was described as unique by Peter ter Velde, project leader of the Dutch press safety campaign Persveilig, who said that the boundaries of threats and violence against journalists are being pushed further and further.
While the De Vries murder is in a league of its own, attacks and threats against journalists have been increasing throughout the Netherlands in recent years. NUJ Netherlands supports the Dutch union NVJ and Persveilig in urging journalists to report incidents and the police and prosecuting services to take them seriously.
NUJ Netherlands also condemned public figures, including politicians, who stoke the atmosphere of hostility against journalists by making disparaging comments about the media. One Dutch politician recently described journalists as “the scum of the earth”. NUJ Netherlands website
Thomas Bruning, the Dutch Association of Journalists' general secretary said:
"Peter R. de Vries was an iconic crime reporter and an unresting fighter for justice. An example for many. His death is unreal, and the anger at this brutal attack is great.’’.
Anthony Bellanger, International Federation of Journalists’ general secretary said:
"Today our thoughts are with Peter's family and friends. The loss of Peter is devastating for press freedom in Europe. He is the third journalist killed this year on the continent. The Dutch government must send a clear message that freedom of the press is not negotiable and that there should be no impunity for the killing of journalists."