Friday 04 December 2020

Task force to clear refugee backlog fails, Amnesty criticises Dutch on IDs

Refugees protesting about the delays in processing their claims. Photo: Refugee demonstration team

A special task force set up by the immigration service IND will not manage to process the backlog of 15,000 applications for asylum by the end of the year as planned, junior justice minister Ankie Broekers-Knol has told MPs.

Some 7,000 cases will now be pushed into 2021, Broekers-Knol said in her briefing, blaming a number of setbacks, including coronavirus, start-up delays and time consuming procedures which ‘can’t be made any quicker’.

The task force was set up after it emerged that the government was paying millions of euros in compensation to asylum seekers whose cases were not processed within the required period. Broekers-Knol has now scrapped those payments.

The task force focuses on people who arrived in the Netherlands before April 1 while new arrivals fall under the regular procedures, and this is likely to mean their cases will be examined earlier.

In recent weeks there have been several demonstrations at refugee centres by people who arrived in the Netherlands up to several years ago and whose cases have still not been dealt with.

Refugee aid group Vluchtelingenwerk said the situation is the result of ‘the latest failed attempt’ to tackle the problems at the IND and blamed the minister for failing to take the lead.

Amnesty

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has called on the Netherlands to give the benefit of the doubt to asylum seekers who cannot conclusively prove their names or nationalities, in line with United Nations protocol.

If the IND is not convinced about country or origin and identity it presses ahead with deportation, without checking if the person concerned risks torture or inhumane treatment, Amnesty said in a new report.

The report is based on an analysis of 50 IND decisions and 30 case files in which the identity of the refugee could not be established to officials’ satisfaction.

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