Verdonk faces call to resign over Congo row
22 June 2005AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has been called on to resign in relation to the return of failed asylum seekers to Congo.
22 June 2005
AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has been called on to resign in relation to the return of failed asylum seekers to Congo.
Verdonk assured Parliament several times, the last time being in in February, that the Congolese authorities were not informed about asylum requests made by Congolese people being deported from the Netherlands.
The Minister was responding to warnings by human rights organisations that deportees faced the serious risk of imprisonment, extortion and assault if unmasked as asylum seekers.
But current affairs programme Netwerk broadcast a report on Tuesday evening which suggested the Congolese authorities had official documents relating to asylum applications in at least three cases.
Labour (PvdA) MP Klaas de Vries was interviewed on Netwerk and he called on Verdonk to go for allegedly misinforming Parliament in relation to the Congolese deportations.
"The Minister is no softy. She must draw her own conclusions here in a dignified manner," he said. This is a Dutch way of saying she should resign. He said the programme's findings were "terrible".
Calling for an emergency debate in Parliament, De Vries added that "perhaps the minister will come with a statement straight away".
The government parties have also expressed unhappiness with the affair. MPs from both Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats (CDA) and Verdonk's own Liberal (VVD) have called for a speedy explanation from Verdonk before passing judgement.
Her spokesman has indicated that she will send a letter to Parliament on Wednesday after investigating the matter further.
Anonymous sources within the Congolese immigration service (DGM) and the country's security service (ANR) told Netwerk that returned asylum seekers risk being held for detention for days, assaulted and receiving a fine.
The sources told the programme that the provision of information from the Netherlands about failed asylum seekers were not isolated incidents. All files relating to asylum seekers deported from the Netherlands back to Congo contained statements they made against Congo and its authorities.
Former asylum seekers also alleged that the authorities in Congo were fully aware of the statements they made in their bid to get asylum in the Netherlands.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news, Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, Dutch asylum