Inadequate representation for detained aliens

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Dutch legal aid lawyers are failing in their duty to provide legal assistance to aliens held in Dutch detention centres.

That is the conclusion of a report drawn up by the Legal Aid Board LAB, of which free newspaper Sp!its obtained a copy under the freedom of information act.

Then justice minister Piet Hein Donner noticed in 2006 that the representation provided by legal aid lawyers was inadequate. One of the solutions was a special legal counter, an independent, government-sponsored organisation providing free legal assistance to aliens.

However, the LAB report finds that detained aliens are generally unaware of its existence, and the Legal Counter underestimated its duties and is not doing enough to remedy the situation.

Most lawyers reportedly still look down on the detained aliens, whose detention lasts more than 72 days on average. They rarely visit their clients, are difficult to get hold of and complain about their fees.

The aliens’ detention centres themselves have also failed to take adequate action to provide detained aliens with the representation they are legally entitled to.

LAB said it initially refused to release its report because it first wanted to find solutions to the problems it had discovered. The Board hopes to have found these solutions by January 2012 and be able to implement them in 2013.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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