"idiotic" child asylum denials criticized

There is growing resistance against the manner in which the cabinet is carrying out the child pardon rule. Child ombudsman Marc Dullaert is taking a step towards the protesters, aligning himself with people's rights organizations and increasingly more mayors who are critical about the rule.

Dullaert believes that asylum children must also be able to fall into the child pardon rule if they have been under municipal supervision, not government supervision, for at least five years. In an interview with the Volkskrant on Wednesday, the ombudsman calls it "idiotic" that children are only allowed to stay if they have been under government supervision for a minimum of five years, which excludes a lot of children in need of asylum.

"These children were just registered at school, went to sport clubs, there was contact with a social worker. So they were substantially visible to the government", the ombudsman says. Dullaert points out that municipalities are seen as decentralized government arms in the case of healthcare task responsibilities, but suddenly with the child pardon they do not have that power.

This week, mayors have joined refugee- and child rights organizations in a campaign to make the child pardon rule more fair. They want all children who have stayed in the Netherlands for five years or more to be able to get a residence permit. Under the rule, these children must have lived in the country five years or more in one stretch, and must be registered at the government before their 18th birthday. On Tuesday, it seemed that various opposition parties and some thirty mayors want to discuss the consequences of the child pardon in Parliament. They also have a problem with the fact that hundreds of children fell off the boat because they were registered in municipalities and not the government.

Dullaert sent a letter to the minister of Security and Justice, Fred Teeven, for clarification on his reasoning why more than half of all applicants were denied asylum. Teeven has not yet replied, which has led Dullaert to decide that he will place files of children in a summarized form on his website to support his argument.

The child pardon came from the coalition agreement between the VVD and PvdA, it was an exchange in which the child pardon of the PvdA compensated for the VVD's wish to make illegality punishable by criminal law. That last measure was scrapped at the request of the PvdA last month. The VVD received half a billion in tax reductions for that.


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