Children who claim asylum in the Netherlands will be given more say in their cases under a proposed law put forward by the Labour (PvdA) and GreenLeft parties.
Under the plan, judges would assess the situations of underage asylum seekers on their own merits rather than in terms of the risks to their families, as happens now. The parties argue that some children have personal reasons for seeking asylum, such as the risk of circumcision for girls.
GreenLeft MP Linda Voortman told the Volkskrant: ‘At the moment judges mainly look at whether their home country is safe for their adult parents. Last year two one-year-old girls were sent back with their mother to Guinea – a country where 97% of women are circumcised – because their mother would supposedly protect them.’
The collaboration between Labour, who are in government, and the opposition GreenLeft grouo has been widely seen as an attempt by the PvdA to position itself ahead of next year’s election. The two parties teamed up last year to put forward a law to make carbon emission targets legally binding.
Asylum for children has been a source of tension within Mark Rutte’s cabinet. Rutte’s Liberal (VVD) party taking a hardline stance aimed at deterring refugees, while Labour says children who grow up in the Netherlands should be allowed to stay.
The parties agreed an amnesty for children under 18 who have lived in the Netherlands for five years as part of their coalition deal, but the VVD has resisted efforts to relax the rules further despite criticism from organisations such as Unicef and Defence for Children.
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