Illegal immigrants in the Netherlands are in a legal limbo and urgent action needs to be taken to end the impasse, the Council of Europe’s high commissioner for human rights said on Tuesday.
Nils Muiznieks said in a new report by the Strasburg-based body that if it is impossible or extremely difficult for people to return to their country of origin, they must be allowed to remain in the Netherlands.
A large number of undocumented immigrants live in poverty on the streets or in camps without access to emergency provisions. ‘This situation must be dealt with urgently, because anyone, regardless of the residence status, has the right to an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing and shelter,’ Muiznieks said.
Several hundred failed asylum seekers are currently squatting and living in temporary accommodation in Amsterdam.
‘The Netherlands has a solid human rights protection system, but in practice there are shortcomings that need to be addressed, in particular in the case of migrants and children,’ the commissioner said.
The commissioner said he welcomed moves to give residency rights to people who cannot return to their country of origin and the amnesty for child refugees, introduced for youngsters who have put down roots in the Netherlands.
Nevertheless ‘a humane and human-rights compliant approach is needed,’ he said. ‘Where return is impossible or particularly difficult, the relevant person should be authorised to stay in the Netherlands.’
The council’s social rights committee said last year the Netherlands must continue to provide failed asylum seekers with food, clothing and a roof over their heads.
The Netherlands has a policy of evicting failed asylum seekers from refugee centres if they refuse to cooperate with their deportation.
Refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk estimates some 5,000 would-be refugees are put on the street every year.
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