Verdonk agrees to delay deportations
11 November 2005, AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has agreed to a request by the Safety Investigation Board to delay the deportation of a number of the illegal immigrants who survived the fire at the Schiphol detention centre.
11 November 2005
AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has agreed to a request by the Safety Investigation Board to delay the deportation of a number of the illegal immigrants who survived the fire at the Schiphol detention centre.
On Thursday Verdonk told Parliament she had ordered the resumption of expulsions of inmates who were no longer required for the investigation into the fire. Eleven rejected asylum seekers died in the blaze in October.
Professor Pieter van Vollenhoven, chairman of the Safety Investigation Board, asked Verdonk on Friday to delay some of the planned deportations for at least a week for the good of the investigation. It is expected this covers at least 50 people.
Meanwhile MPs visited the prison boat in Rotterdam where some of the survivors are being held. The visit was organised after Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner insisted on Thursday that claims the survivors had been treated badly after the fire were untrue.
Some MPs expressed surprise at Donner's claim in light of the fact some of the prisoners complained on Friday about their treatment following the fire.
Verdonk announced her decision to resume the deportation of about 270 survivors during a debate in Parliament on Thursday. Verdonk suspended the expulsions days after the fire on 27 October.
Both statements generated indignation among the leftwing opposition in Parliament. "I think it is an absolute scandal," said MP Marijke Vos of the Green-left party GroenLinks when Verdonk announced the resumption of deportations.
GroenLinks put forward a motion calling for the survivors to be moved to normal refugee centres. Some were transferred to the detention centre in Zeist after the fire. Others were moved to a detention ship in Rotterdam. The Groenlinks motion failed to get enough support.
Verdonk reminded MPs that the people in question were being held at the Schiphol detention centre pending deportation. "Nothing has changed," the minister said. Survivors that are no longer needed for the investigation into the fire can be expelled from the Netherlands.
The minister promised each case would be judged individually to ascertain whether the person is physically and mentally fit enough for deportation.
Refugee organisation VluchtelingenWerk Nederland described Verdonk's decision as "indefensible", and questioned how the Netherlands would benefit from such speedy deportations. "Allow people to first come to terms with it all," the organisation said.
A Labour Party MP complained that there wasn't "even a small amount of compassion" in the positions taken by Donner and Verdonk.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news