Asylum seekers in the Netherlands are kept in detention too often, for too long and under unnecessarily severe conditions, says a report from Amnesty International. The refugees are kept in custody while their asylum claims are processed.
At the end of 2010, a majority in the Lower House called on the government to look into alternatives to the present rigorous system of detention for asylum seekers. It was said alternatives would be both cheaper and less severe than the present regime.
Amnesty accuses Immigration Minister Gerd Leers of not making enough of an effort to come up with viable alternatives. The organisation has done its own research into systems other than that used by the Dutch government.
Better than in the Netherlands
Dutch Amnesty director Eduard Nazarski says no one country has the answer to the problem but that “there are definitely countries where certain elements are far better than in the Netherlands”. He points to the more flexible asylum detention regimes in Sweden, Australia and Great Britain.
In Sweden, for instance, most asylum seekers are allowed to live with relatives or in open centres with bedrooms rather than cells. This means Sweden needs only 245 asylum detention places compared with 2,280 in the Netherlands.
In both Great Britain and Australia, asylum detainees are allowed daily visits but their counterparts in the Netherlands have to make do with just two hours of visits a week.
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