Verdonk survives censure after more errors

6th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 April 2006, AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk survived a censure motion after she admitted giving incomplete and incorrect information to parliament.

6 April 2006

AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk survived a censure motion after she admitted giving incomplete and incorrect information to parliament.

This is the second vote of censure against Verdonk in recent months and the second time she has admitted giving less-than-complete answers in relation to controversial deportation cases.

The latest slap on the wrist comes a day after Verdonk announced she is running in the contest to lead the Liberal Party (VVD) into the 2007 election. She said her "decisiveness and clarity" marks her out from her opponents.

The Socialist Party (SP) tabled the motion of censure against Verdonk on Thursday in relation to the way she dealt with the controversy over how Syrian government officials were left alone to question Syrians facing deportation. Some were rejected asylum seekers.

In accordance with international law, Syrian officials travelled to the Netherlands to verify the identity of the deportees in order to issue one-way travel documents.

After a handful of interviews, the Syrian delegation - including a General - asked the Dutch immigration officials to leave the room. They did and the deportees were not told they were not obliged to answer all questions put to them by the Syrians.

Complaints surfaced afterwards that the Syrians were trying to identify potential dissidents who sought asylum, putting them at risk of retaliation.

The SP argued Verdonk was responsible for the fact asylum-related information had once again fallen into the hands of the authorities the rejected asylum seekers were being returned to.

Last year 62 MPs in the 150-seat parliament voted in favour of a no-confidence motion after Verdonk was forced to admit she was wrong to claim information about rejected Congolese asylum seekers had not be given to the authorities in Kinshasa.

This time 64 MPs voted to censure Verdonk as the Labour Party (PvdA), green-left party GroenLinks, the small Christian groups ChristenUnie and SGP and Independent Ali Lazrak supported the SP. The motion required 76 votes to achieve a majority.

Verdonk admitted on Thursday that she had not fully informed parliament earlier this year about the Syrian case. She also admitted mistakes were made.

The minister said she had asked herself whether this should entail further consequences for her — meaning should she resign. She had decided, she told the MPs, such a step was not called for. 

She emphasised "no irresponsible acts" were committed in relation to the Syrians and no asylum-related information was supplied by the Dutch government to the Syrian authorities.

The group of Syrians were not in any danger on their return to their home country as the Dutch officials verified during the asylum process whether it was safe to deport them.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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