Dutch MP’s demand the same treatment for Afghan assistants as for interpreters
The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, wants the Cabinet to treat all Afghans who have worked for the Dutch mission in Afghanistan in the same way as Afghan interpreters. A majority of the Members of Parliament in the Tweede Kamer voted on Wednesday in favor of a motion demanding this.
In the motion, the Tweede Kamer calls for two things: to evacuate these Afghans as quickly as possible, and to designate them, like the interpreters, as a "systematically persecuted group". This means that it is easier for them to qualify for asylum in the Netherlands. The Cabinet wants to meet the first part of the call, State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol said in a fierce debate on Wednesday.
But treating these Afghans the same as interpreters would mean "an automatic residence permit", according to Broekers-Knol. She wants to "take a break" and assess asylum applications from these people individually, she said before the vote on the motion. She handles issues related to asylum policy for the Cabinet in her role at the Ministry of Security and Justice.
Even after the motion was passed, the state secretary held her ground. "We don't want to do that in that way," she expressed the government's position. The motion is "so broadly worded. Because of my responsibility I cannot do that in that way". It is also not needed, according to the state secretary, because there is already a six-month moratorium on deportations and assessments of asylum applications from Afghans.
Emotions and irritation ran high during the debate. D66 MP Salima Belhaj accused the Cabinet of not following the Tweede Kamer’s order to help Afghans who are at risk after the seizure of power by the extremist Taliban because of their previous work for the Dutch. "These people will simply die!" she snapped at Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld.
Derk Boswijk (CDA), Renske Leijten (SP) and Kati Piri (PvdA), among others, also made it clear that things are moving too slowly. A frequently heard reproach was that the ministers involved point at each other and hide behind procedures.
Piri even suggested calling Prime Minister Mark Rutte to the debate, claiming the Tweede Kamer did not receive clear answers from the ministers who were present.
Reporting by ANP.