European Court blocks Dutch repatriation of Iraqis
Dutch attempts to repatriate Iraqi refugees have been blocked by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
A spokesperson said that the court wants to decide on a case-by-case basis whether Iraq is safe enough for refugees to be sent back. Over the next few months the Strasbourg court will examine a number of cases brought by Iraqis in the Netherlands. These people will be allowed to stay until their cases have been heard.
The court verdict is another blow for newly appointed Immigration and Asylum Minister Gerd Leers. He was earlier stopped by the Lower House when he ignored a court's request and proceeded with the repatriation of refugees to Iraq. The court had written to Mr Leers to say that asylum seekers who lodged an appeal should be allowed to stay in the Netherlands at least until 24 November. Minister Leers had initially not informed the Lower House about the letter.
Dutch refugee support group VluchtelingenWerk Nederland is delighted with the ruling, saying that "the court has confirmed that a careful weighing of all relevant information about the Iraqi security situation is vital". The group's director Dorine Manson believes that "this is good news for all those Iraqis in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, because for the time being they are assured of protection".
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