Amsterdam prostitution business refused renewal of licence

Amsterdam prostitution business refused renewal of licence

Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan has decided against renewing the licence of a large-scale prostitution operator comprising 47 windows. Several victims of human trafficking and/or exploitation are known to have worked there and the possibility persists that this could happen again, according to information of the Public Prosecution Service and the police.

Despite repeated warnings, the operator has not stepped up enough effort to improve the situation, which is why he has received a letter of intent on 3 September 2014 informing him that his licence will not be renewed.


New General Municipal Regulations (APVs) regarding prostitution

The City of Amsterdam strives for a healthy and safe prostitution industry. Any kind of abuse, misconduct or malpractice is unacceptable. To combat abuse and take further steps towards a fully regulated prostitution industry, the City Council introduced new General Municipal Regulations on 22 July 2013. These regulations place more responsibilities on prostitution operators when it comes to tackling abuse such as human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, and exploitation. Operators were already obliged to prevent instances of human trafficking in their business before the new regulations were in place, but these obligations have now been more clearly defined.

Prostitution operators are now obliged to arrange an intake consultation with prostitutes to ensure that they possess suitable levels of independence to enter the industry and have not been a victim of human trafficking. Operators are also required to draft a business plan in which they outline how they protect the rights of the prostitutes, prevent human trafficking and ensure that the prostitutes are in good health and have a safe working environment.

Their business administration must be sound and thorough and the operator must sufficiently oversee the daily course of business. These extended General Municipal Regulations have been communicated clearly and extensively within the industry, both in written form and at meetings and workshops.


Intent to revoke the licence

After the new regulations had been introduced, operators could apply for a new licence within 26 weeks. These applications are currently being processed. The operator in question has also applied for a new licence. The City Council is planning to refuse this application because (suspected) victims of human trafficking have previously worked in the business in question and various other kinds of misconduct have been noted; the operator is not demonstrating sufficient efforts to prevent or combat these issues.

According to information of the Public Prosecution Service, at least three victims of human trafficking – of which the perpetrators were convicted in 2014 – are proven to have worked in the business in question for a certain period of time. In addition, information of the police suggests that more than 20 prostitutes suspected to be victims of human trafficking have worked in the business.

Findings of the supervisory authorities of both the police and the municipality show that these issues could persist on the premises of the operator in question. Over the past few years, he has repeatedly failed to comply with the General Municipal Regulations and licence regulations. Over the course of these years, he has received numerous warnings and various measures have been imposed. There have also been several conversations with the operator about the flaws of his business operations. However, these measures have not led to any structural improvement. Therefore there is no confidence in the ability of the business to function properly in the future.


Further proceedings: no immediate or permanent closure

If the intended revocation of the licence is converted into a definitive revocation, the business will not be shut down immediately; neither will the windows be closed permanently. A reasonable period of time will be allowed before business operations are discontinued. This is to allow prostitutes working in the business in question enough time to prepare for the event of closure. They will also receive sufficient information about the planned closure. The municipality will offer them support in finding new workplaces or alternatives such as a change of work or a return to their country of origin. There will also be a solid healthcare package. The business will receive extra attention in this period.

In the case of a definitive revocation, a new application for a licence for the premises in question can be filed by a new operator. This application will then be considered independently.


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