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Netherlands: Horrific killing of crime reporter Peter R. de Vries condemned

Monday 19 July 2021 - 10:56am

Peter R. de Vries (CC Attribution) Source: DWDD

PEN International and PEN Netherlands are shocked and saddened by the death of Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries, who died on 15 July from injuries sustained in a shooting in Amsterdam nine days earlier. He was 64.

Responding to the news, Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said:

‘Peter R. de Vries's murder is a reminder that no matter how committed a society is to freedom of expression and how strong the laws are to protect freedoms, journalists who investigate crimes are taking unprecedented risks. From the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017, Ján Kuciak in 2018, and now de Vries in 2021, we see brave journalists investigating the dark underbelly of the European society paying the ultimate price. We call upon the authorities to investigate the murder immediately and thoroughly institute safeguards for journalists.’

Peter R. de Vries was shot five times, including in the head, while on his way to a car park after leaving the studio of RTL Boulevard, on which he appeared as a guest. Two suspects were arrested soon after the shooting. De Vries had recently acted as an adviser to the key prosecution witness against alleged drug kingpin Ridouan Taghi. Derk Wiersum, the lawyer of a state witness in the case, was shot dead in Amsterdam in 2019.

'Peter R. de Vries was a unique and brave investigative journalist and crime reporter. He has not only made a big impact with reopening cold cases, but also with his never-ending support for the victims’ families. Our thoughts are with his children, family and friends', said Sophie Zijlstra, President of PEN Netherlands.

Background information

Peter R. de Vries was a well-respected investigative journalist and crime reporter, who won critical acclaim for his reporting on the Dutch underworld. He notably worked for De Telegraaf and had his own television crime programme Peter R. de Vries, misdaadverslaggever (Crime Reporter).

His death comes in the wake of several killings of journalists in the European Union in recent years, including Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Ján Kuciak in Slovakia. Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, condemned Peter R. de Vries’s killing, stating that ‘Investigative journalists are vital to our democracies. We must do everything we can to protect them’.

The 2021 report of the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists records a strong rise in reports of violence against journalists in the Council’s member states, and documents serious threats to press freedom, including those posed by the impunity of crimes against journalists.

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 email: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org