Courts slam immigration service for failing to turn up to one in 10 hearings
Judges have criticised the immigration service IND for failing to turn up to around one in 10 asylum case hearings, causing delays and higher legal costs.
Trouw newspaper reported that the IND decided in advance which cases it would not attend, blaming staff shortages and a high workload for its inability to cover all hearings.
Last month the district court in Den Bosch issued a stinging rebuke to IND officials who sent a five-line letter explaining why they would not be present at the hearing of an asylum seeker from Pakistan whose application had been rejected. The man said he was claiming asylum because he feared reprisals from the Taliban if he was sent home.
In its ruling, the court described the IND’s handling of the case as ‘unacceptable and disrespectful’ and said the agency was ‘obstructing the court in its legal duty to deliver as final a judgment as possible’.
The man’s lawyer, Yvonne Verkouter, said the failure either to send IND officials or submit case files to the hearing, was ‘utterly incomprehensible’. ‘Clearly the court wants to send a message to the IND: this is not how you should treat foreign nationals,’ she told Trouw.
The practice also adds to the strain on the asylum system. Even if the judge rules in favour of the asylum seeker when the IND fails to attend a hearing, the applicant is not automatically granted permission to stay in the country and has to begin a new application.
The IND has been given government funding to add 200 full-time staff to its judicial service, but currently around a quarter are absent through sick leave.
A spokesman told Trouw discussions were ongoing with the courts and lawyers, but the current situation demanded ‘the utmost of our capacity and flexibility’.
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