Netherlands performed 170 war crime investigations among asylum seekers last year

Syrian asylum seekers (Photo: Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons)Syrian asylum seekers (Photo: Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons)

Last year the Dutch immigration and naturalization service IND performed 170 investigations into asylum seekers suspected of committing war crimes. In 20 cases the investigation led to the refusal of refugee status and a residency permit, according to figures the Ministry of Security and Justice sent to parliament on Thursday, AD reports.

Some cases are currently being investigated by the Public Prosecutor's International Crimes Team. These suspects may end up being prosecuted in the Netherlands.

The number of war crime investigations for 2016 is equal to the number done in 2015. In that year 30 asylum seekers were denied residency permits based on these investigations. It must be noted, however, that in 2015 many more people applied for asylum in the Netherlands than last year, 58 thousand in 2015 and 32 thousand last year. Most asylum seekers over the past two years were Syrian people fleeing the civil war in their country.

The Netherlands started investigating asylum seekers for war crimes in 1992, according to the newspaper. Since that year 970 asylum seekers were refused residency permits because they were suspected of committing war crimes. At least 110 of them are still in the Netherlands. 

The Dutch government struggles with the problem that many asylum seekers who have committed crimes can not be sent back to their home country. The European Convention on Human Rights prohibits the deportation of persons if their lives will be in direct danger when they arrive in their country of origin. For example, Afghan asylum seekers who were employed by the communist regime in the 80s and 90s can not be returned to Afghanistan because it would put their lives in immediate danger.