Netherlands grants amnesty to asylum seekers
23 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands announced Friday it is granting residence permits to 2,300 long term asylum seekers under a special amnesty programme. Thousands more unsuccessful asylum seekers are to be deported as soon as possible.
Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk said she received 9,800 applications for the scheme but most were not “distressing enough” to merit a residence permit.
Her predecessor, Hilbrand Nawijn, a member of the anti-immigration LPF party, announced the pardon programme in 2002.
Due to a massive backlog in the immigration service (IND), thousands of people have been waiting for five years or more to have their applications for asylum assessed. Many have learned Dutch, fully integrated into society and had children.
Initially, the idea was that up to 10,000 people would benefit, but hundreds of applications for the pardon were allegedly refused before Verdonk had decided the criteria for the scheme.
To allay fears that some of the 7,000 unlucky applicants faced persecution in their home country, Verdonk said Friday that people who really could not go back would be evaluated under different criteria and would get a residence permit.
But she added that saying “I have two children who have grown up here” did not meet the test of the asylum pardon, that stipulated someone’s case had to be “distressing”.
Verdonk said those who were not deported immediately would be sent to special centres “dedicated to deportation”.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + asylum seekers