Verdonk in the wars again over Syrian deportees
17 March 2006, AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has been grilled in parliament during a debate on the treatment of Syrians being deported from the Netherlands.
17 March 2006
AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk has been grilled in parliament during a debate on the treatment of Syrians being deported from the Netherlands.
MPs reacted with incredulity on Thursday to the news a Syrian government delegation demanded and was granted the right to question 181 of the deportees individually without a representative of the Dutch immigration service IND being present.
The meetings at IND property were intended to establish the identity and nationality of the deportees. This is necessary in order for a country to issue one-way travel documents (laissez-passer) to accept return of its deported citizens.
Under the normal circumstances IND officials could have been present at all interviews, Verdonk said. But after 12 meetings the Syrians indicated the IND was no longer welcome because their present made the meetings "awkward". The interviewees were not allowed to have a lawyer present either.
Secret footage screened on a Dutch news programme on Thursday showed a deportee expressing shock to an IND official about the way the Syrians wanted total control over the interviews. He feared any information he would give would be relayed to the Syrian Secret Service.
It has been alleged the Syrian delegations asked the interviewees whether they had sought asylum in the Netherlands. Verdonk admitted in parliament she could not rule this out.
MPs and Amnesty International warned people can face persecution and jail in their native country if the authorities learn they applied for asylum elsewhere.
Coalition party D66 asked how it was possible the Syrians were given such control over the interviews in light of the controversy last year about deportations to the Congo.
Verdonk was forced to admit last year in that case the IND passed on information to the Congolese authorities. Human –rights campaigners said the information could have helped identity the deportees as asylum seekers.
The deportations of Syrians questioned by the government delegation have been put on hold until parliament debates the issue again next week.
Earlier this month, parliament temporarily blocked Verdonk from sending Christians and Gay men back to Iran.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news