Sunday 15 September 2019

Local councils don’t count in child refugee amnesty: Council of State

council of state raad van stateRefugee children who are registered with the local council but not with national agencies such as the IND do not qualify for the amnesty for child refugees, the Council of State ruled on Wednesday.

The council, which is the highest Dutch court, said in its ruling refugees have to ‘actively’ ensure they remain in full view of the national authorities.

This is in line with the position taken by junior justice minister Fred Teeven, who has rejected several dozen amnesty applications by arguing the children had ‘dropped out of sight’.

To qualify for the amnesty, children without proper papers must have been under the supervision of either the immigration service IND, the central refugee agency COA, the deportation service, the foreign police service or the Nidos guardianship institute, the court said.

Being in touch with local councils and going to school is not sufficient to qualify for the amnesty because these bodies do not have a role in law in immigration policy, the ruling stated.

Discussion

Teeven said in a reaction he hoped the council’s ruling would end the discussion about the amnesty for refugee children, which formed part of the coalition agreement between the right-wing VVD and the Labour party.

Last year some 300 of the Netherlands’ 400 mayors signed a letter calling on Teeven to approve residency permits for children who were registered with the local authorities.

Absurd

Child rights organisation Defence for Children described the court’s ruling as ‘absurd’.

‘This ruling totally misunderstands children’s rights,’ the organisation said. ‘We are talking about well-integrated children, some of whom were born here and are 11 or 16 years old.’

The ruling will have an impact on hundreds of children, the organisation said. Defence for Children plans to take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights.

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