Lawyers slam IND delays and 'prejudice'

13th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

13 September 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Staff at the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service are ignorant of their own procedures, and their unwillingness to investigate case files leads to long delays in issuing residence permits, it was claimed on Monday.

13 September 2004

AMSTERDAM — Staff at the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service are ignorant of their own procedures, and their unwillingness to investigate case files leads to long delays in issuing residence permits, it was claimed on Monday.

Lawyers and other experts told a Dutch parliamentary hearing that an increasingly negative attitude has pervaded the IND in recent years and the IND has been reduced to an organisation that is simply required to "obtain targets", newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

MPs were told that IND staff were not contactable and that the immigration service regularly ignores court rulings. Complaints about the IND have risen explosively in recent years.

The Dutch government is working intensively to reduce the rate of immigration and stimulate the integration of foreigners into Dutch society and amid criticism from opposition MPs, claims of incompetence against the IND have also caught headlines recently.

The lawyers were called to address the nation's political parties and claimed that court rulings in favour of asylum seekers often lead to renewed resistance from the IND, causing asylum procedures to take several years longer than necessary. 

They said the IND often pulls out of court hearings at the last moment because it realises it does not have a chance of success.

Lawyer G. Later said the IND searches for contradictions or does not directly act on the ruling. As an example, the lawyer gave a Breda Court ruling stating that an asylum seeker had a right to a residence permit from 1999. But the IND gave the refugee a permit dating from 2003.

The later date negatively affects the asylum seeker's bid for naturalisation, which can be submitted after living in the Netherlands for five years or three years with a Dutch partner. An appeal has since been launched.

Another lawyer, Frank van Haren claimed the IND sees asylum seekers as liars or profiteers, pointing out that a judge ruled in the case of one of his clients that human rights obligations had been breached and that the asylum seeker should be given a residence permit.

But Van Haren said the IND then imposed a "deafening silence" and he did not hear from the immigration service for months. Three appeals and 14 months later — in which the IND was ordered to pay damages — and still nothing has happened.

A lawyer for the Dutch Legal Aid Association H. Walrave said many problems occur because the IND is difficult to make contact with. Lodged papers are often untraceable or have not been added to the immigration's services system. At the same time, foreigners wait uncertain over their future.

The National Ombudsman, Roel Fernhout, is receiving more complaints about the IND, especially in regards delays. He said 94 percent of callers with questions over regular residence permits and extensions do not get through to a helpline operator within the agreed norm of three minutes.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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