Asylum minister Mark Harbers resigns over refugee crime report

VVD MP Klaas Dijkhoff consoles Mark Harbers after his resignation. Photo: Peter Hilz / HH
VVD MP Klaas Dijkhoff consoles Mark Harbers after his resignation. Photo: Peter Hilz / HH

Asylum minister Mark Harbers has resigned during a debate with MPs about a report in which figures about the number of refugees suspected of violent crimes were ‘hidden’.

Harbers told MPs that he felt responsible for the report, in which figures about how many refugees were suspected of rape and murder were not explicitly stated. ‘I am not only responsible in terms of the law, but I feel responsible,’ Harbers said.

The figures, which were published last week, included suspicions of rape (4) and murder (31) under the heading ‘other’. Harbers was then accused of attempting to hide the figures.

During Tuesday evening’s debate Harbers said that the ministry had been warned not to come up with a top 10 crimes for which asylum seekers were suspects because that meant serious crime would be hidden. However, civil servants had not taken that advice, Harbers said.

Asked why the ministry again had failed to report the true extent of the potential involvement of asylum seekers in crime, Harbers said civil servants were worried that the figures would lead to confusion.

Fake refugees

Last week’s report showed ‘fake’ asylum seekers who come from so-called safe countries, namely Morocco and Algeria, were responsible for almost half the 4,600 incidents requiring police intervention.

While most cases involved shoplifting or pickpocketing, police also registered cases of physical abuse, threatening behaviour and a further 1,000 incidents listed as ‘other’.

The Telegraaf reported on Thursday morning this total included 79 potential sex crimes, including 47 cases of sexual assault, five allegations of child abuse and four alleged rapes plus a string of other violent offences.

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