Council offers delay for detention centre

1st December 2005, Comments 0 comments

Updated 5 December 2005, AMSTERDAM — Haarlemmermeer Municipality is willing to give the Ministry for Justice a month to move all detainees out of the cell complex at Schiphol.

Updated 5 December 2005

AMSTERDAM — Haarlemmermeer Municipality is willing to give the Ministry for Justice a month to move all detainees out of the cell complex at Schiphol.

This was the local authority's opening offer as it entered negotiations with the ministry in Haarlem on Monday morning.

"This month is one of the possibilities that we can offer the ministry,"  a spokesperson for the council said. "The time limit cannot be extended after that". The council is insisting that extra personnel are assigned to the complex until it shuts down to guarantee safety.

Last week, the council, which has responsibility for the Schiphol area, demanded that the cell complex close by Wednesday this week at the latest.

Eleven illegal immigrants awaiting deportation died in a fire at the cell complex in late October.

Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner wanted to keep the undamaged wings of the centre in operation, but Fire Department inspectors reported that the complex still did not meet the required safety standards.

Harry Borghouts, the Queen's Commissioner for Noord Holland Province, is mediating between the council and the ministry.

The executive council of Haarlemmermeer Municipality on Thursday demanded the closure of the detention centre at Schiphol within 36 hours.

Mayor Fons Hertog wanted to give the national government the opportunity to improve the complex first. But the executive council - consisting of the Hertog and the aldermen - sent a letter to the councillors on Thursday to say the complex must close within 36 hours.

This followed discussions with Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner. The executive council said Donner had failed to convince it that the ministry would implement the necessary safety improvements in a timely fashion.

Previous agreements on safety measures were only implemented by the ministry after repeated inspections and the threat of financial penalties. "This has damaged our confidence in the manner in which the ministry deals with safety at the cell complex," the letter said.

Donner insisted that the detention centre meets safety standards and should remain open at least until the finding of the investigation into the fire are published.

The executive council said it is not prepared to change the temporary licence for the centre into a permanent one. The licence runs until April.

Haarlemmermeer is prepared, however, to discuss moving the centre to another location in the area.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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