Ministers will not relax child amnesty rules, leave for next cabinet

Refugees at Ter Apel

Photo: Peter de Ruiter/ UNHCR Brussel

Ministers have decided not to relax the rules governing the amnesty for child refugees, despite majority backing in parliament for change last week.

‘The cabinet considers the formation of a new cabinet the appropriate moment to consider the wishes of the majority of the current parliament,’ junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff said in a letter to the lower house.

A majority of MPs want the rules to be changed, arguing they are currently being applied too strictly.




Children can qualify for the amnesty if they have lived in the Netherlands for more than five years, have been under the supervision of an official organisation and are under the age of 18.

However, hundreds of children still face deportation because they were not under official supervision. 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 Council of State said in 2015.

The amnesty was agreed by Labour and the right-wing VVD as part of their coalition deal but has been heavily criticised by aid group Defence for Children and the UN’s children’s rights group Unicef.


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