20 February 2015

A new AIDA report on asylum in the Netherlands shows, among other findings, how the European Court of Human Rights judgement in Tarakhel v. Switzerland is beginning to shape national practice. The report, written by the Dutch Council for Refugees, states that, following the judgement, the Netherlands has adopted a new policy to only return asylum-seeking families to Italy if a guarantee has been attained from the Italian government that the family will be accommodated in a way adapted to the age of the children and that the family will be kept together. If the process to attain such a guarantee takes longer than a few days, the family’s asylum claim will instead be examined by the Netherlands. 

The report also underlines that, from September 2014, the Netherlands no longer detains children who claim asylum at the border. However, Dutch law still allows for the detention of asylum-seeking children.

The AIDA update includes potentially significant developments in the material reception of asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected. Following a report published in November by the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), which stated that the Netherlands should provide shelter, clothes and food to all irregular migrants, the Dutch Administrative High Court has already ordered one municipality to provide shelter and food for rejected asylum seekers.

It is highlighted that, on 17 October 2014, the Netherlands temporarily suspended both asylum decisions and the return of rejected applicants to certain regions of Iraq. These individuals are entitled to material reception benefits equal to first-time asylum applicants to the Netherlands, and can therefore stay in designated reception centres.

The report also shows that sometimes the national authorities assessing asylum claims by homosexual applicants relied too heavily on the fact that an applicant cannot give information about the ‘gay scene’ in the Netherlands, or their country of origin, and therefore did not find the applicant to be credible. The report states that, following the ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU in A, B and C, it is no longer lawful for a decision to be based solely on an applicant’s inability to provide such information.

The Netherlands received 23,970 first asylum applications in 2014 – a 67% increase in comparison with 2013. Syrians, Eritreans and stateless people (mostly Palestinians from Syria) were the largest groups applying for international protection in the Netherlands. The number of repeated asylum applications in 2014 decreased by 23% compared to 2013 (from 2,790 to 2,150)

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is an ECRE project mapping asylum procedures, reception conditions and detention in 16 EU countries.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 February 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.