The Netherlands News

The Netherlands News

Residence permits ‘adequate’ for fire victims

Published on August 31, 2006

31 August 2006

AMSTERDAM — “Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has behaved adequately, finally,” personal injuries lawyer Martin de Witte stated on Thursday.

He made the comment on hearing Verdonk is granting residence permits to at least 39 of the illegal aliens who survived the fire at the Schiphol detention centre last year. “You can see it as a sort of compensation,” he said.

The lawyer represents 25 of the victims of the fire in a legal action at Haarlem Court. He is seeking to show the State can be held liable for the fire and that the survivors are entitled to compensation.

De Witte believes all his clients are eligible to receive a residence permit. He spoke to one of the men earlier on Thursday “who could scarcely believe that he can stay in the Netherlands”.

Eleven inmates awaiting deportation died in the fire at the detention centre last October.

Verdonk drew a lot of criticism on herself when she defended the actions of the staff during the fire by saying they acted “adequately”.

Many politicians and asylum seeker groups called for the survivors to be granted the right to stay in the Netherlands because of the trauma. Several inmates were nevertheless deported, allegedly before they could be questioned by accident investigators.

De Witte said Verdonk should have taken the decision to grant the residence permits at an earlier stage. “They were left to their fate. But better late than never,” he said.

The report into the fire is expected in October. A deportee is in custody for allegedly starting the fire in his cell.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news