‘Refugee policy must be based on justice’

28 September 2011

‘Refugee policy must be based on justice’

Some two hundred asylum seekers today protested against the unjust consequences of the current government’s immigration and asylum policies. SP Member of Parliament Sharon Gesthuizen addressed the crowd: ‘A just refugee policy would mean that you help people, verify their story in a decent fashion , then carry out the decision, whether it’s to allow them to stay or send them back, in the best possible way. This government is treating refugees like criminals by making unauthorised presence in the country a punishable offence. This won’t reduce the problems, in fact these people are very likely to take to the street, with all the consequences that will have for them and for society.’

Many demonstrators also spoke, telling of what they had undergone at the hands of the IND, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service, which with no obvious reason casts doubt on the credibility of their stories. The burden of proof is in this way laid completely at the feet of the asylum seeker, while from a legal perspective it should also be carried by the Dutch authorities.

Refugees are repeatedly locked up in detention centres for foreigners or even end up on the street. Too often, also, they are given inadequate access to medical care, having to wait for a long time, sometimes as long as two weeks, to see a doctor. Psychological problems are not sufficiently recognized, or result in the relevant authorities shunting people from pillar to post.

If a refugee is refused asylum, this does not mean that expulsion to his or her homeland is straightforward. Sometimes the country in question doesn’t want them back. They then become ‘illegal’, but with nowhere to go, stuck between a rock and a hard place, with unauthorised continuation of stay being punishable by a fine and eventually even by imprisonment. This government’s plans are not only scandalous, they’re also in conflict with European law and with human rights.

The SP, in cooperation with the party’s group in the European Parliament, will de demanding an explanation from Immigration and Asylum Minister Gerd Leers.

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