"Deportation policy ineffective and inhuman"

6 June 2010

"Deportation policy ineffective and inhuman"

Nobody should be imprisoned unless they are awaiting deportation to their country of origin, any detention must be made more humane, and nobody should be put out on the street, certainly not children. This was what Dennis de Jong, Member of the European Parliament for the SP, told the 'wake' – literally, the 'watch' – at the deportation centre at Zestienhoven airport, Rotterdam. The wake is a monthly protest organised by solidarity group 'Welkom Onthaal' (Welcome Home) in which the SP also participates. Current expulsion policy is, argues the SP, in conflict with European law, and De Jong intends to take the European Commission to task on the matter. "This policy is inhuman, ineffective and also in conflict with the rules," he explains. "I won't let the subject rest until we wee a just solution."

EU-member of parliament Dennis de Jong SPDe Jong stresses that there is a need, in any good asylum policy, to return asylum seekers who have seen their applications rejected after due process, but he is extremely critical of the way this policy is currently conducted. "Locking people up is currently used as a coercive measure, despite the fact that, according to the European Union, only those about to be deported should be imprisoned. This is not the case in Rotterdam, where half of those refused asylum are simply taken to the Central railway station where they're given a ticket to take them to the border. Everyone knows that this doesn't work and that many of these people come straight back to Rotterdam to live illegally on the streets." If people cooperate but still aren't allowed back into their own countries, they should, the SP argues, on the grounds that they are innocent of any wrongdoing, be given a residence permit.

The conditions under which people are held in detention also leave a lot to be desired. De Jong notes a number of transgressions of the EU Directive governing the detention and deportation of rejected applicants for asylum. For example, organisations such as 'Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland' (Refugee Work Netherlands) and Welkom Onthaal are no longer permitted by the government to pay visits to Zestienhoven, despite the fact that EU rules state that such visits should normally be allowed. This means that people behind bars in the detention centre cannot be offered any kind of assistance by Dutch organisations. Even the supplying of a telephone card enabling people to make contact with family members is impossible. In addition, ever more children are being detained, and these children are sometimes separated from their fathers, which is also contrary to European law. These, says De Jong, "are all examples of how you may not and should not do things." He intends to bring pressure to bear on the European Commission to force the Dutch authorities to adhere to the EU rules.

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