Helping an illegal immigrant not a criminal offence, says minister

Junior justice minister Fred Teeven is prepared to amend pending legislation making it a criminal offence to help people living in the Netherlands without proper papers.

Teeven made the concession during Wednesday night’s debate on the coalition’s plans to make being an illegal immigrant a criminal offence.

Coalition party PvdA is opposed to the plan but has agreed to accept it in principle in return for some changes, leading to tensions between the coalition partners.

The changes, agreed at a Labour party meeting earlier this month, include an end to the police quota for catching illegal immigrants and not criminalising people who help people without proper papers.

However, Teeven refused to comment further on Labour’s demanded changes, saying he is still working on the draft legislation which should be completed by the summer.

Analysis

In its analysis of the debate, the Volkskrant says it is clear neither party wanted to discuss the issue last night. Despite repeated questioning by opposition MPs, Labour spokeswoman Marit Maij said her party remained committed to the motion approved at the party meeting.

But subjects such as reducing the number of people in detention and making Dutch policing of foreigners more humane in general were not touched on, despite opposition efforts.

The debate was ‘a complete waste of time’, D66 said after it was over.

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