Susp. Syrian war criminals amongst asylum seekers

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No image availableNL Times

According to figures requested by the Ministry of Security and Justice, there may be war crime suspects among the large number of Syrians who are looking for asylum in the Netherlands.

These suspects will not get a residence permit, but they can not be sent back either - because of the war in their country. Since mid 2011, the Netherlands has stopped deporting Syrians.

Around five Syrians did not receive asylum in the first half of the year because the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) suspects that they are guilty of crimes in Syria. The number may increase. Since mid August, an investigation has been ongoing into 15 Syrian asylum seekers. Such an investigation usually takes a few months.

These suspect Syrians create a new chapter in a complex dossier that Cabinets have been struggling to resolve for decades. While the Netherlands emphasizes that we will not offer safe haven to war criminals, the greatest effort is deporting these so-called 1F'ers.

Te Repatriation and Departure Service (DTV) currently has bout 180 files of former asylum seekers who are suspected of war crimes. In the last year only ten of them have left the Netherlands. In part this is because their countries of origin would not take them back or because the security situation is too threatening for the person in question. A foreigner who refuses to cooperate with his deportation can remain illegally in the Netherlands for a long time.

According to Secretary of State Fred Teeven, his services are carefully searching for 1F'ers among the Syrian asylum seekers, but criminals may be able to slip through the system because of missing information.