Friday, December 01, 2006

Parliament approves amnesty for asylum seekers

There will be a general amnesty for asylum seekers!!!

The new parliament just voted a couple of hours ago in favour of the motion, by a very, very slim majority of 75 for and 74 against. It was the first issue on the table by the newly elected parliament which started work today. The Labour Party (PvdA), Socialist Party (SP), GreenLeft (GroenLinks), and Party for Animals (Partij van de Dieren) formed the majority for the motion, whereas the incumbent governing parties Christian Democrats (CDA), Liberals (VVD), as well as right-wing Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) and orthodox-Poretestant Political Reformed Party (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, SGP) were against. The PvdA says that this is evidence that a majority of people in the country are for a general amnesty. Even though the new cabinet has yet to be formed, the leader of the PvdA called the motion a necessary step to show that the new parliament speaks out of principal for the amnesty.

If the motion were implemented, then a total of around 31,000 asylum seekers who came to the Netherlands before 2001, before the new and restrictive Immigration Law (Vreemdlingenwet) came into force, would have a right to stay. Of these asylum seekers, some have spent many, many years awaiting pending decisions from the Immigration Service about their status and right to remain in the country. Many have all this time been living in fear, and in intolerable conditions and prisons, and been confronted with the uncertainty of forced deportation.

Minister Verdonk of Immigration Affairs was, and still is, totally against the general amnesty, and “severely discourage[d]” [ten zeerste ontraden] the debate on the issue. Before the elections, she accused the left parties of giving asylum seekers who came into the Netherlands before 2001 “false hope” on the issue. Today, she called the vote for a general amnesty “unusual and undesirable” [ongebruikelijk en ongewenst], lamenting that the new parliament forced an outgoing cabinet is still trying to finish its last affairs to deal with such a thorny issue. She herself of course voted against the motion and called the measure “playing with fire”.


James said...

Don't get too excited. I read in today's news that it still may not happen. Check out the story here:

Formosa said...

Yeah, the cabinet is very hesitant to implement the motion, since it was such a slim majority and adopted with a 'decommissioned' government.

There's been lots of developments since then, and a friend has send me tonnes of articles on this, but I just don't have time to write much at the moment...however much I want to!!