Dutch face critics over deportation plan
23 April 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands is being called to order on European-wide concern that it is violating human rights by its plans to deport 26,000 asylum seekers who did not qualify for a residence permit under a recent amnesty.
23 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands is being called to order on European-wide concern that it is violating human rights by its plans to deport 26,000 asylum seekers who did not qualify for a residence permit under a recent amnesty.
The Council of Europe — which consists of 45 nations and is involved in efforts to defend human rights — will hold a debate next week about the Dutch government's deportation plans, described as the largest forced exodus in Europe since World War II.
Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot — who is currently the council chairman — will be required to defend the government's plans during a meeting in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday 28 April, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.
The Netherlands decided earlier this year to grant a residence permit to 2,300 long-term asylum seekers to clear a backlog in cases with immigration service IND. But howls of protest greeted the decision to deport 26,000 over a period of three years.
The debate in the Council of Europe has been stirred up by a Hungarian politician, who — according to unnamed sources — has attracted "broad support" from other nations.
Of note is that there are just two debates that have been given an "urgent" nature: one on the Dutch deportation policy and on Kosovo, where renewed ethnic tension led to the deaths 19 people recently.
Kosovo — a province of Serbia-Montenegro — and much of the Balkans was the scene of "ethnic cleansing" in the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
But diplomats concede that the debate over the Dutch asylum seeker policy is more embarrassing than the Kosovo issue because the Netherlands is currently the chair of the Council of Europe and accuses many other nations of human rights abuses.
It has been raised within the walls of the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende should not travel to Strasbourg when member states meet to discuss the deportation issue. But the Christian Democrat CDA leader dismissed the advice.
Meanwhile, the day before the council is scheduled to discuss the deportation issue, the European Parliament will also discuss the Dutch euthanasia policy, which legalised assisted suicides in April 2002. The policy was recently criticised in a report from Swiss and British politicians.
But others claim that the criticism does not go far enough. Critics claim the introduction of euthanasia legislation has led to "an alarmingly high number of cases of euthanasia without an explicit request". It is also alleged that Dutch medics do not always report an assisted suicide, as required by law.
The Dutch euthanasia law allows assisted suicide if the patient officially requests to die, is suffering from extreme pain or a terminal illness and a second medical opinion has been sought. The Netherlands was the first nation to legalise euthanasia.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news