In the press

Amsterdam's red light district reopens but faces new post-lockdown reality


IN THE PAPERS - Thursday, July 2: Britain offers residency and citizenship to millions of Hong Kong residents after Beijing passed a national security law that will curb the island's freedoms. Also, a special French police unit in charge of fighting crime is facing scrutiny over allegations of racketeering, illegitimate violence and theft. Amsterdam's sex workers are given the green light to resume work for the first time since the lockdown. Finally, French police (again) are left a little sheepish after responding to a call about a panther that turned out to be a stuffed toy.


Lots of focus in the press today on the UK’s offer of citizenship to eligible Hong Kong citizens. This comes after thousands of people protested in Hong Kong yesterday over a new national security law passed by Beijing. The Times reports that Britain has opened its doors to 3 million Hong Kong migrants under an immigration arrangement that would allow them the possibility of British citizenship after five years. On its front page, the I sees it as an escape to the UK with the paper calling Beijing’s security law draconian and a flagrant breach of treaty. The Wall Street Journal welcomes Britain’s offer of citizenship and urges the US government to do the same, while also noting in its editorial today that a beacon of freedom has been extinguished. 

To France now where the government is facing calls to disband a special police unit which fights black market crime in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis. The unit is facing at least 15 investigations into suspected drug trafficking, theft, illegitimate violence and falsifying police reports, the New York Times reports. Some in the unit are even accused of opening foreign bank accounts to hide dirty money. It comes at a time when protesters in France are calling for French police officers who overstep their authority to be brought to justice. In Liberation today, the lawyer of a cannabis dealer recounts how his client was beaten, tear gassed and received electric shocks to his genitals during an undercover sting that led to his arrest. The lawyer describes it as a sort of police mafia which uses violence and torture to extort money from people doing illegal business.

Amsterdam’s red light district has reopened, much to the relief of the city's sex workers, after the coronavirus shutdown. Many feared a drop in clientele due to the tourism ban post-lockdown, but one worker says she was fully booked on Wednesday. But under post-lockdown conditions sex workers and clients have to observe new rules to prevent infection, the Guardian reports. Clients must disclose if they have any symptoms or have been in contact with someone who does. For sex workers, they must disinfect and clean sheets and the bedroom after each rendez-vous. Also in the new rules of engagement — no kissing and face-to-face activity is to be avoided. 

Ending with another story out of France, French police were left a little red faced this week after reacting to several worrying sightings of a black panther on the banks of a river in south-east France. A specialised team with perfect knowledge of the area and local wildlife was dispatched to extract the animal which turned out to be a stuffed toy panther. The animal is now awaiting pick up in a local police station, authorities said, a little tongue in cheek.


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