Labour questions refugee detention
17 November 2003 ,17 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — A Labour PvdA MP has demanded answers from Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk in response to claims that rejected asylum seekers are being detained much longer than intended at a Rotterdam deportation centre.
Lawyers with the Dutch Refugee Council (Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland) claimed on Sunday in the IKON radio programme The other World that rejected refugees are waiting much longer than the 28 days for their deportation.
The refugees are detained in small, allegedly dark cells and the refugee council claimed a mother and a child had been detained at the centre — located at the Rotterdam Airport — for three months, Dutch associated press ANP reported.
PvdA MP Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that Minister Verdonk recently promised that children would only be detained at the centre for a maximum of one and half days.
"The minister has incorrectly informed us. In reality, the policy is different. That is unacceptable. It looks like we have created a kind of Guatanamo Bay in the Netherlands," he said.
Guatanamo Bay is a US prison camp in Cuba that presently houses terrorism suspects. The jail has been the subject of much criticism, the most recent of which came from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
But a spokeswoman for the minister said no one is being held longer than a month at the Rotterdam centre. She also said detained refugees get sufficient daylight in their cell and are occasionally allowed outside.
The spokeswoman said the mother and child that Dijsselbloem referred to will soon be transferred. The MP has demanded that refugees who are detained too long, be transferred to better accommodation within the refugee detention system while they await deportation.
The Netherlands has witnessed a sharp decline in asylum seekers entering the country in recent years after sharpening its entry regulations. Furthermore, it is also in favour of refugees seeking shelter in countries neighbouring the land of origin.
But the government is also poised to offer an amnesty to asylum seekers who have been in the country for five years or more but are still waiting for a definite decision over the asylum request. Amid criticism allegedly a too narrow scope, the amnesty will give about 2,200 refugees are a residence permit.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news