Asylum seekers who have to wait an unreasonably long time for their claims to be processed can claim punitive damages from the government, the Council of State has ruled.
The country’s highest administrative court said judges were entitled impose a conditional penalty, called a dwangsom in Dutch law, if the immigration service IND fails to decide on a claim within the legal time limit.
The government brought in a temporary law in 2020 suspending penalties for exceeding the time limits while it tried to clear a backlog in asylum cases, but two district courts ruled earlier this year that it breached European law.
The IND appealed against those decisions to the Council of State, but today’s judgment brings an end to the case.
The government is automatically obliged to compensate asylum seekers who have had to wait too long for a decision, but courts can impose additional penalties if they rule in favour of an asylum seeker who brings a case against the government for delaying their application.
The second, discretionary penalties were suspended by the temporary law and have been reinstated by the Council of State’s ruling. The IND said it would wait for the full court judgment before deciding how to respond.
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