Detention last resort for immigrantsPOSTED: 08/8/12 12:02 PM
St. Maarten – The Netherlands – Detaining foreigners must be a solution of last resort for those who do not leave voluntarily to their country of origin, Immigration, Integration and Asylum Minister Gerd Leers says. It is a message St. Maarten could take to heart, because over the years many immigrants caught without proper papers have spent sometimes months locked up in a police cell without legal representation and without any perspective on a solution for their situation.
Leers said in a press release issued yesterday that he is on the same page with the National Ombudsman on the issue. He noted that immigrants have options to avoid detention: if they cooperate with their departure, detention is simply not necessary.
Leers started experiments with alternatives for detention with centers in Ter Apel and Vught and with family centers located in Katwijk and Gilze Rijen.
The experiments include a reporting requirement combined with supervised return; a reporting requirement in combination with a stay at reliable addresses; bail – an amount of money the immigrant gets back upon departure; stay at asylum seekers centers for single or minor immigrants; funding of local projects focusing on sustainable return to the country of origin, for instance with training facilities and psycho-social supervision.
The National Ombudsman has pointed out that the experiments are taking place on a small scale. An evaluation must establish whether the alternatives do not result in immigrants evading their departure.
The Dutch legislation for the detention of immigrants is in line with international treaties and European law. Every individual decision to detain an immigrant is assessed independently by a judge. This way, Leers says, the basic rights of immigrants are protected.