Court tears up family reunion restrictions facing refugees

Some refugees are living in tents. Photo:
Some refugees are living in tents. Photo:

Cabinet restrictions on refugees bringing their families to the Netherlands conflict with both Dutch and European law, the highest Dutch administrative court said on Wednesday.

The Council of State was looking at three cases in which refugees with residency permits had been stopped from bringing their partner and children to the Netherlands because of the rule.

Wednesday’s ruling means asylum minister Erik van der Burg will have to rethink the ban he imposed on family reunions if the successful applicant for refugee status does not have a proper place to live.

The ruling also means some 1,200 people will now be given a visa to the Netherlands, which will ‘lead to extra pressure on refugee accommodation in the coming weeks,’ the justice ministry said in a reaction.

Van der Burg had already suspended the measure, which was introduced last August, pending the Council of State verdict. Several lower courts ruled earlier, in cases brought by asylum seekers, that it conflicts with both Dutch law and two European guidelines.

The issue of family reunification is a sensitive one within the coalition government. ChristenUnie had said it would only support restrictions if they were legally acceptable. The CU and D66 have also called for a better spread of refugees across the country while the VVD has focused on measures to stop the influx.

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