MPs approve plan for pre-arrival integration
23 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Parliament has approved compulsory pre-arrival integration exams. Instead of the anticipated widespread media coverage, Dutch newspapers only ran small stories that focused on the nudity issue.
23 March 2005
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Parliament has approved compulsory pre-arrival integration exams. Instead of the anticipated widespread media coverage, Dutch newspapers only ran small stories that focused on the nudity issue.
The reports said naked breasts on a beach, gay men kissing and a pop concert from the 1960s will have to be cut from a public information film to be played in foreign countries to would-be immigrants. The 105-minute film is intended to explain what awaits them in the Netherlands and to help them prepare for the exam.
It was the only real reversal for Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk who won Parliament's approval on Tuesday for her plans to force permanent immigrants to sit an integration exam in their country of origin before entering the Netherlands.
The minister explained that the images had been included in the film because they are part of public life in the Netherlands.
But the Foreign Affairs Ministry warned Minister Verdonk last week that the screening of some scenes could be judged a criminal offence in several Islamic countries. These nations include Morocco, Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
"We don't want people to be prosecuted because they watched our video," Verdonk was quoted saying by newspaper 'Het Parool' on Wednesday. The uncensored version can be watched without threat of prosecution at Dutch embassies.
Following the parliament's vote, non-European Union foreigners who wish to enter the Netherlands on a permanent basis will now be required to undergo a pre-arrival integration exam from 1 June this year if they wish to enter the Netherlands.
When questioned about the lack of media coverage, a Justice Ministry spokesman told Expatica that Dutch journalists had instead been focusing on the Senate vote on Tuesday in which a proposal to implement direct mayoral elections was defeated.
The parliamentary backing of pre-arrival integration on Tuesday came despite concerns from several academics that the technology used to implement the exams is inadequate.
The exams will be completed at Dutch embassies via telephone with automated voice recognition technology. About 14,000 people are expected to undergo the exams each year.
The academics told MPs last week that speech recognition technology is not advanced enough and immigrants could fail the test due to speech impediments or accents.
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk rejected the criticism and said the exams will be just as reliable as if they were taken in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands will now become the first country to demand permanent immigrants take a Dutch language and culture test prior to gaining entry to the country. The plan is designed to reduce the number of immigrant partners, particularly those from Turkey and Morocco.
US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese nationals wishing to join their Dutch partner in the Netherlands are exempt from the pre-arrival courses. Temporary stay expats moving to the Netherlands for work are also be exempted.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news