Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Ayaan Hirsi Ali case, legal arguements

In the parliamentarian debate last night, the legal question surrounding the Ayaan Hirsi Ali case focused a lot on Article 14 of the Rijkswet op het Nederlanderschap (Law on Netherlander):

Hoofdstuk 5. Verlies van het Nederlanderschap
(Losing Nethelander-citizenship)
Art 14

(1) Onze Minister kan de verkrijging of verlening van het Nederlanderschap intrekken, indien zij berust op een door de betrokken persoon gegeven valse verklaring of bedrog, dan wel op het verzwijgen van enig voor de verkrijging of verlening relevant feit

[Our Minister (or Integration and Immigration) can revoke the receipt or allocation of Netherlander-citizenship, if she can base it on a false declaration or deceit by the person concerned, as well as the concealment of any facts that are relevant to the receipt or allocation.]
The key word here (bold) is "can". Many parliamentarians have raised the issue that the Minister also has the discretionary power take into account all the circumstances around the naturalisation process. Like I mentioned before, humanitarian considerations, or the undeniable fact that she has sat in Parliament for over three years should be reason enough to validate her status as Netherlander.

However, sub-article 4 may be of relevance too:

(4) Met uitzondering van het geval, bedoeld in het eerste lid, heeft geen verlies van het Nederlanderschap plaats indien staatloosheid daarvan het gevolg zou zijn.

[With the exception of the situation, as stated in the first sub-article, that the loss of Netherlander-citizenship if becoming stateless would be a result thereof.]
Does AHA become stateless when she loses Netherlandership? A group of jurists have argued that if AHA's citizenship status is revoked, then she is still entitled to reside in the Netherlands. She would then fall back to her original status as asylum seeker when she first entered the country, and could potentially reapply for naturalisation.

The US has in the meantime said that AHA losing her citizenship would not hinder her entrance into the country.

Live Debate in Lower Chamber (Tweede Kamer) 16 May 2006
  • Another issue that parliamentarians bombarded the Minister for Intergration and Immigration was whether she knew that AHA's real name was actually different. Faction-leader of GroenLinks Halsema made the point clear that AHA's email in parliament contains her real name Magan, and that this is the email she corresponds with everyone. A surprised looking Minister Verdonk said she never knew this and claimed that she never contacted AHA by email. Being pressed further on the issue, Minister Verdonk threw tantrum:

    "Do you think that I am not affected by this, that I don't have any feelings about this, but I am also a minister. Why would I only start an investigation Friday morning if I knew long ago that Hirsi Ali is actually called Magan?"
  • The question remained unanswered: Is AHA Dutch or not?
Minister Verdonk said time and again that the letter she sent to AHA on Monday 15 May was merely a statement (constatering) of fact, not a decision, on whether AHA is Dutch or not. THis statement is based on legal rules that could not be applied any other way, she admanantly argued. And on strict interpretation and application of the rules, in according with precedence, AHA did not receive Dutch citizenship. Asked whether AHA is Dutch or not,Minister VErdonk skirted around the question, and only said that AHA has six weeks to respond to the 'statement'. Implicitly she seemed to say that AHA is not Dutch (thus by implication her 'statement' is actually a 'decision'), because Minister Verdonk said AHA does still have the status of refugee. With that status AHA can re-apply for citizenship, with her real name and personal details.

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