Netherlands to continue deporting Iraqis

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The Netherlands is to continue to deport failed asylum seekers to Iraq. Immigration and Asylum Minister, Gerd Leers, told parliament this afternoon that the situation in the country is not so unsafe that people cannot return. Four hundred failed Iraqi asylum seekers have already returned voluntarily this year.

The minister bases his conclusions on a Foreign Ministry report, which states that the situation in Iraq is worrying, but that it is impossible to determine whether or not the situation has deteriorated in the last six months.

As a result, the minister concluded that the human rights of Iraqi deportees are not always in danger. A large minority of MPs and human rights organisations want deportations of failed asylum seekers to Iraq to be suspended.

On Tuesday, opposition MPs called for an emergency debate to prevent a group of Iraqis being sent back to Iraq on Wednesday.

Minister Leers says the repatriations cannot wait until a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which has asked the Dutch authorities for more information. He says that would give false hope to the group. He did say he would review the situation if circumstances change.

Since the end of 2008, asylum seekers from Iraq have stopped receiving automatic protection. Each case is considered individually.

However, Christians, Jews and Palestinians are given asylum without having to prove they have been persecuted. The same applies to intellectuals, journalists and a number of other vulnerable groups.


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