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Dutch News
Syrians granted permits after IND errors 2/21/2007
21 February 2007

AMSTERDAM - Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, currently responsible for immigration policy, has granted resident permits to 181 Syrian asylum seekers who were in the news last year because of mistakes made by the IND. The Christian democrat CDA minister wrote this in a letter to parliament on Tuesday.

Two months ago a narrow majority in Parliament approved a motion from the Socialist party (SP) to grant this group residence permits. The asylum seekers had been called to the IND offices and presented to Syrian officials in February 2006 to ascertain their identities. Countries refuse to take back asylum seekers if their identities are not confirmed. The immigration service allowed the refugees to be alone with the Syrian officials during the interviews. These officials then asked the (presumed) Syrians about their reasons for seeking asylum.

The matter caused political problems for Immigration Minister at the time Rita Verdonk (Liberal VVD). Practically the whole of parliament thought that the IND should have insisted on monitoring the interviews to make sure that the Syrian officials did not ask about the refugees’ pasts. Information on why they were seeking asylum could put them in danger if they were eventually deported back to their own country.

Verdonk forced the two IND officials responsible for arranging the interviews to resign because they had shown too little “political sensitivity.” Verdonk herself survived a motion of no-confidence in Parliament.

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