Rights group seeks justice for immigrant deaths

6th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

A rights group is requesting the European Court of Human Rights to hear a case of 11 illegal immigrants who were killed in a fire at a Dutch detention centre.

STRASBOURG – A rights group on Monday requested the European Court of Human Rights to hear a case involving 11 illegal immigrants who died in a fire at a Dutch detention centre three years ago.

A committee for the defence of the victims of the fire, which broke out at Schiphol airport near Amsterdam in October 2005, made the request after the Dutch legal authorities refused to prosecute two ministers then in office.

Piet Hein Donner, now social affairs minister then held the justice portfolio.

Rita Verdonk who now heads the rightwing Proud of the Netherlands party, was immigration and integration minister at the time.

Donner was responsible for the running and construction of the centre, and Verdonk for the administrative detention of the migrants and taking charge of the survivors of the fire,

The committee argues they were guilty of inhuman and humiliating treatment.

An independent inquiry concluded that the disaster, which also injured 15 people, including some security staff, would have been less lethal if safety rules had been observed and staff better trained.

The only person to face charges was a Libyan immigrant, Ahmed Isa-Al-Jeballi, accused of starting the fire by throwing away a lighted cigarette end in his cell before going to sleep.

He received a three year jail term. His appeal will be heard in the coming months.

The report of the inquiry revealed similar serious flaws in the country's five other detention centres and led to the resignation of Donner and the housing minister Sybilla Dekker. Verdonk did not resign.

The court will spend several months considering whether to accept the case before passing judgement on the basic issue.

[AFP / Expatica]

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