Human rights organisation Amnesty International has voiced strong criticism of the Dutch practise of locking asylum seekers and illegal immigrants up in secure accommodation in the hope they can be deported, saying it has become a ‘tool of deterence and punishment’.
In the Netherlands, detention periods of over one year are no longer exceptional, the organisation says. Some 20,000 immigrants and asylum seekers are locked up every year.
‘Current efforts to address irregular migration are increasingly placed in …context where migrants are depicted as an enemy and discussions on the issue are peppered with war vocabulary,’ Amnesty says.
And the use of detention centres means ‘irregular migrants and (rejected) asylum seekers encounter an increasing atmosphere of criminalisation… generating stereotyped and xenophobic images towards migrants and asylum seekers in general.’
Junior justice minister Nebahat Albayrak said in a reaction to news agency ANP that she had already taken steps to keep families with children out of detention centres. The Netherlands would also adopt EU guidelines which say detention may last a maximum 18 months, she said.
Changes to Dutch immigration and asylum law resulted in under 10,000 people applying for refugee status last year, compared with 43,000 in 2000. Last year 14,000 people were ‘forcibly returned’ and 5,000 left voluntarily.
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