Cohen distances himself from Verdonk gibe

4th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

UPDATE: 5 January 2006, AMSTERDAM — Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen has distanced himself from his reported description of Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk a "hot-head with a cold heart" in the way she implements her policies.

UPDATE: 5 January 2006

AMSTERDAM — Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen has distanced himself from his reported description of Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk a "hot-head with a cold heart" in the way she implements her policies.

Cohen confirmed he had used the words in an interview with magazine 'Vrij Nederland', but said he had only done so in relation to examples put to him by the writer.

He said he had not approved the controversial remark as it appeared in the magazine because he had not used it in that context.

Cohen told 'Vrij Nederland' that immigration policy actually required a "cool head with a warm heart. He was reflecting on the establishment of the Vreemdelingenwet (Immigration Law) in 2000. He was the junior minister in charge of immigration policy at the time.

The mayor claimed the harshness of the current policy implemented by Verdonk was not an automatic consequence of the tightening of the immigration rules in 2000. He said the law was not a hardening of the traditional liberal approach to asylum seekers, rather a means to speed up the process.

But Human Rights Watch said the Vreemdelingenwet - which is soon to be evaluated by parliament - has led to the violation of the rights of asylum seekers.

Independent conservative MP Hilbrand Nawijn told the magazine the policies being pursued by the Netherlands are leading to the criminalisation of rejected asylum seekers.

Nawijn was the first Immigration Minister in the short-lived coalition government from
22 July 2002 to 27 May 2003. He was a member of the populist and anti-immigration LPF party at the time.

The vice president of Amsterdam Court, WJ Van Bennekom, was also critical of the way asylum seekers are treated. He charged the Council of State (Raad van Staat), the highest judicial authority in the country, was guilty of the systematic "covering" of decisions taken by the Immigration and Naturalisation service.

"I think the chance of winning in the Raad van Staat is far greater for the IND than for the asylum seeker," he said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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