24 May 2013
The Netherlands is more likely to give asylum seekers residency papers than the rest of the European Union, according to the head of the Dutch immigration service. In 2012, 13,650 people applied for asylum in the Netherlands, a drop of almost 7% on 2011. The reduction was particularly apparent in the first half. At the same time, the number of people making a second application rose 26%.
Most applicants came from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
The number of requests for naturalisation rose almost 10% compared with 2011 to almost 29,000.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg has issued an important sentence in favor of religious freedom. The sentence defines what type of infringement on freedom of religion justifies the granting of refugee status. According to this directive, Member States of the European Union should in principle grant refugee status to foreigners who face persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group in their country of origin.
The specific case concerns two Pakistani nationals belonging to the Ahmadi Muslim minority (a minority not recognized by the Muslim majority) and seeking asylum in Germany. According to the Pakistani Penal Code, the two were liable to up to three years imprisonment if they claimed to be Muslims, preached or tried to spread their religion. The German authorities have rejected their application on the ground that the restrictions on the practice of religion in public imposed on Ahmadis were not “persecution” in the eyes of the right of asylum. Both applicants then complained to the German administrative courts, arguing that the German authorities’ position was contrary to Directive 2004/83/EC.
By declaring that “certain forms of serious interference with the public manifestation of religion may constitute persecution for reasons of religion”, the Court corrected this interpretation, and admitted the possibility that two Pakistanis are given refugee status.
12 July 2012
Following a foreign affairs ministry report criticizing the treatment of homosexuals in Iraq, Immigration Minister Gerd Leers has announced that they qualify for asylum in the Netherlands. In a briefing regarding the decision Leers noted that in order to qualify, individuals will have to prove that they are from Iraq.
21 June 2012
Negotiations over the place of a group of Iraqi asylum seekers in the Netherlands continue. Immigration Minister Gerd leers and his Iraqi counterpart Shafiq Duski met in the Hague this week and will again meet in Baghdad in September. The Netherlands offered a fund of 5.5million euros to Iraq to reintegrate failed asylum seekers, on the condition that Iraq cooperate in the repatriation process. Minister Duski will consult with Iraqi parliament on the issue, but prefers a phased return for the asylum seekers, as Iraq reportedly would have difficulty coping with the large numbers of repatriated individuals. The negotiations arose after asylum seekers from Iraq and elsewhere established a protest tent camp near Ter Apel.
25 May 2012
Police intervened to break up an impromptu camp established by failed asylum seekers near Ter Apel, the Netherlands. Riot police arriving in 20 minibuses used force to dismantle the site and arrested about 110 individuals at the site, failed asylum seekers from Iran and Somalia who claim that they will come to harm if returned to their country of origin. A group of Iraqi asylum seekers, involved in the camp’s original set up two weeks ago, had been removed earlier to an apartment complex where they were guaranteed housing until June 15 as the Dutch and Iraqi immigration ministers negotiate next steps.
Meanwhile a judge in Groningen determined that the level of response and force in the deconstruction was “disproportional”. The defended actions claiming that it was a necessary measure due to the health concerns at the impromptu camp.
7 October 2011
Hassan Bakir, secretary general of Moroccan Islamist group Shabiba Islamiyya, was arrested in Spain while on vacation with his family, and detained for the past two months while Spanish courts rule on is possible extradition to Morocco.
Bakir had been living in the Netherlands since 2005. In 1985 at the age of 18 Bakir was sentenced to death in absentia for his political activities in Morocco. Following a 20 year exile from Morocco in Libya, he was granted political asylum in the Netherlands, now teaches at the Islamic University of Rotterdam. Bakir’s arrest in Spain acts on the 1985 conviction; he faces the death penalty if extradited to Morocco.
Bakir has publicly stated that he is disappointed with support he has received during the detention in Spain, as well as condemning newspaper reports labeling him a terrorist.
On 7 October newspapers reported that Bakir has fled back to the Netherlands from Spain in advance of potential extradition to Morocco. Radio Netherlands Worldwide quotes legal expert Bart Stapert’s opinion that, while Morocco can request that the Netherlands extradite Bakir, the country “will not do that because he has political asylum here.” Stapert further hypothesizes that while Bakir has criticized the lack of response from Dutch atuthorities, “behind the scenes they have done a lot more for him.”
Spain has rejected an asylum request from Omar Osama bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden, after deciding that he did not meet the condition necessary for him to remain in the country. “The Interior Ministry has not accepted the request for asylum because this does not meet the conditions necessary for entering Spain,” an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Omar, who has been living in Cairo with his wife, has renounced his father and mentioned that he wants to be an “ambassador for peace” between the Muslim world and the West.
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New York Times
Eighty asylum-seekers in Brussels are nearing death after going for eighty days without food. The hunger strikers are protesting the government’s refusal to grand them resident permits in the country. The asylum-seekers come from a variety of places – Nepal, the Ivory Coast, Congo, Iran, Algeria, Guinea, and Brazil, and whose applications have either been rejected, or remain pending. 70 immigrants on hunger strikes agreed to abandon their dangerous measures pending a deal from the Alien Registration Office. The deal would allow the individuals to recuperate from the ordeal with a 90-day visa. However, clear guidelines have not been set, prompting many refugee and religious organizations to pressure the government to come up with a program concerning allowing illegal aliens to reside in the country.
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According to a report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a five-year downward trend in the overall number of people seeking asylum in industrialized countries experienced a reversal last year. Nearly half of asylum seekers from around the world found home in the European Union last year, with the majority of them coming from Iraq. Iraqis top the list of applicants for the second year in a row, accounting for over 10 percent of the total 45,200 applications in 2007.