Campaign continues for asylum seeker amnesty

27th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

27 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — More than a year after the Dutch government unveiled a massive deportation policy, a political vote and a petition were called upon on Tuesday in a bid to win a more generous amnesty allowing thousands of asylum seekers to stay in the country. Several hundred people gathered on the Plein in The Hague where artists led calls for Queen Beatrix to make a "royal gesture" allowing the asylum seekers refused a residence permit last year to make a permanent home in the Netherlands.

27 April 2005

AMSTERDAM — More than a year after the Dutch government unveiled a massive deportation policy, a political vote and a petition were called upon on Tuesday in a bid to win a more generous amnesty allowing thousands of asylum seekers to stay in the country.
 
Several hundred people gathered on the Plein in The Hague where artists led calls for Queen Beatrix to make a "royal gesture" allowing the asylum seekers refused a residence permit last year to make a permanent home in the Netherlands.

About 50 MPs and senators signed a petition reinforcing the demands.

But in the Parliament itself a short distance away, 84 MPs with the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD, Democrat D66, populist LPF, Christian party SGP and Wilders Groep rejected a motion calling for a more lenient amnesty.

Some 57 MPs from the Labour PvdA, Socialist SP and green-left GroenLinks parties backed the motion lodged by PvdA MP Klaas de Vries.

Writer Marion Bloem — who initiated the action requesting the Queen to grant a royal amnesty — said she was disappointed by both Dutch politicians and the difficulty she has encountered in handing her letter over to the Dutch monarch.

Bloem has been told not to inconvenience Queen Beatrix. The Queen's staff and the Ministry of General Affairs have also refused to speak with her.

However, the writer intends to hand over the letter on Thursday, prior to Queen's Day, in whatever manner possible — perhaps even by placing it in a post box.

The 180,000 signatures already on the petition will be handed over at a later date because the action is not yet finished. Bloem said a lot of Dutch celebrities are getting involved and she believes public support is growing.

A Maurice de Hond survey indicates that just 41 percent of the population supports a "royal gesture", with 56 percent opposed. VVD, CDA and LPF voters lead the opposition, while voters for the left-wing opposition parties and D66 support a more inclusive amnesty.

Such a royal gesture is illegal though in the Dutch constitutional state, so protestors are urging the government to consider the action as a "passionate plea for a royal, regal amnesty regulation", poet and theologian Huub Oosterhuis said. He said it could be "in the spirit of the Queen".

Oosterhuis said the deportation policy was "scandalous" and stressed that a lot of people are ashamed of the government's "hard, merciless" manner of governing.

Despite protests and vocal political criticism, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk won parliamentary approval in February 2004 allowing the deportation within three years of 26,000 people whose requests for asylum have been refused.

The refugees arrived in the country prior to April 2001 when tougher immigration laws came into force. Some have been waiting for a definite decision on their asylum request for five years or more.

Verdonk — who is clamping down on immigration as she fervently adopts a pro-integration stance to curb ethnic and social tension — hopes the policy will clear a backlog of cases with the embattled immigration service IND.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

0 Comments To This Article