Dutch gov't must do more to protect disappearing child asylum seekers: National Rapporteur

The Dutch government must do more against child asylum seekers disappearing from asylum centers. Over the past five years, 60 minor Vietnamese asylum seekers disappeared from Dutch asylum centers under dubious circumstances, and nothing seems to be done about it, National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking Herman Bolhaar said to Nieuwsuur.

These young asylum seekers fall under the responsibility of the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers COA and the Dutch state's custody. "There are indications that these children are susceptible to exploitation situations", Bolhaar said to the television program. He calls for an in depth investigation into the disappearances. The problem was noticed for the first time last year, but it is still unclear what happened to these children, where they are and who is behind these disappearances. 

According to Bolhaar, State Secretary Mark Harbers of Justice and Security, who is responsible for asylum, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must be much more actively involved in finding out what happened to these children. "Matters that concern children in such vulnerable situations, those require an active protection role from the government", he said. "I think that the government should be much more involved than it is now. I expect this to be a top priority, in terms of protecting the weakest people out there. And not just protecting victims, but going after the perpetrators."

State Secretary Harbers referred Nieuwsuur to answers he gave to parliamentary questions on this subject in December last year. Back then he said that there is currently no information about a smuggling network involved in the disappearance of minor Vietnamese migrants. According to him, previous investigations into this revealed no criminal offenses.

A spokesperson for the COA told Nieuwsuur; "It is worrying that people become victims of criminal activities such as human trafficking, especially when it comes to children. In sheltered centers, the behavior of young people is closely monitored and the working method is aimed at, among other things, a multidisciplinary risk analysis to determine which risks a young person is facing. If a young person leaves anyway, it is reported to the police."