Minister presses ahead with plan to stop legal help for first asylum applications


The cabinet is sticking to its decision not to make legal help available to asylum seekers making their first application, junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol has told the Volkskrant in an interview.

At the moment, people claiming asylum are allocated a lawyer who is present when they make their application and during the first and second interview.

Instead, the government plans to only provide legal help for appeals. The change, the minister said, will bring the Netherlands into line with the rest of Europe and will make the work of the immigration service IND easier.

The IND is grappling with a severe staffing shortage and the amount of time asylum procedures take is soaring. On Monday it emerged that the ministry may have to pay up to €17m in compensation next year because applications have taken too long to be dealt with.

The government’s decision to scrap legal help for asylum seekers has been slammed by refugee organisations, who say their legal position will be seriously undermined.

In addition, the committee which looked into the chaos surrounding the case of Armenian children Lili and Howick stressed the importance of a careful primary application, the VK said.

MPs are debating the justice ministry’s plans for 2020 on Wednesday and Thursday.

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