Officials see legal problems with integration plan

25th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

25 January 2006, AMSTERDAM — Official agencies have serious doubts about the legal tenability of the reworked integration plan proposed by Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk.

25 January 2006

AMSTERDAM — Official agencies have serious doubts about the legal tenability of the reworked integration plan proposed by Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk.

The Equality Commission (CGB) expressed concerns about the distinction being made between different groups of Dutch citizens when MPs met with experts on Wednesday. Teun van Os van den Abeelen Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Immigration Affairs (ACVZ) warned the minister's initiative could face major legal difficulties.

Under Verdonk's plan, residents up to the age of 65 who have spent less than eight years in the Netherlands during their school age are obliged to undergo a course to help them integrate into Dutch society. Gaining a command of the Dutch language is the major requirement of the integration course.

The problem, experts said, arises because Verdonk is making a distinction on the basis of nationality and ethnic background.

Parliamentarians have insisted that citizens who are Dutch by birth are exempt from the need to undertake an integration course. Naturalised Dutch citizens are not. This latter group mainly consists of people with a Turkish or Moroccan background and refugees from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia.

The CGB warned the proposed distinction was in conflict with international treaties, and could lead to discrimination and stigmatisation as people would be registered on the basis of their ethnic and national background.

Van Os van den Abeelen said there was no almost never a legal justification for making a distinction with regard to nationality. He warned Verdonk was taking a big risk. If the European Court declared to the distinction to be unlawful "a serious portion of the foundation of the law would fall away, and there would be little left to work with".

People undertaking the course could then claim the costs they incurred back from the State, he said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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