Child asylum seekers win court ruling

State Secretary Fred Teeven and the Ministry of Justice have been determined too strict in their policy around the child pardon regulations. After some resistance from Dutch mayors, the court in The Hague decided yesterday that it is unjust to deny a child asylum if the child has not been visible to the Realm, but only to the municipality.

This decision is a victory for the parties that have been fighting for a broader, more inclusive child pardon policy. Children's Ombudsman Marc Dullaert called it "idiotic" that municipal oversight does not count on a government level.

Dullaert has said that children must also be able to fall under the child pardon rule if they have been under municipal supervision for at least five years, which is the minimum number of years for a child to be deemed familiarized and adjusted to Dutch society and be granted asylum.

Mayors have been urging for a more inclusive policy, allowing more children to stay in The Netherlands. Diederik Samsom, PvdA leader, has answered these calls saying that the rule would be broadened. State Secretary Teeven (VVD) remained inflexible on any amendments, however.

Now, in a court case about the validity of municipal oversight, a family from Kazakhstan has been saved from deportation. According to De Volkskrant, the family was not visible on a government level for many years, but did not obscure themselves on purpose. The Return and Departure Service closed their file, but did not notify the family of this. Mother and child were registered at the municipality.

The family's lawyer says that this case can be exemplified as a beacon of hope for other asylum seekers in similar situations. The judge's ruling means that the hundred children whose existence was known by municipality but not the Realm can take heart in this case. Teeven has not yet given a reaction.