Immigration service staff shortage: IND is often a no-show at court
Due to "staffing and planning problems," the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) is often a no-show at court hearings for asylum seekers whose applications it rejected. The service currently decides in advance for which cases it will appear at the hearing and which not, the IND confirmed to Trouw.
That is incredibly frustrating for asylum seekers, for whom such a hearing can be a matter of life or death, asylum lawyer Wil Eikelboom of law firm Prakken d’Oliveira said to the newspaper. “In the first place, it is frustrating for the rejected asylum seeker who has a lot of worries and is clearly not being taken seriously. But the situation at the IND also results in a waste of money and time for courts and lawyers.”
When the IND recently failed to show up at such an asylum case, the court in Den Bosch called the government service’s actions “unacceptable and disrespectful.” The IND did not even send in its arguments. The asylum seeker from Pakistan, lawyer Yvonne Verkouter, and the court only got a five-line note saying that the IND would not be there. “Such a note is completely incomprehensible. It is clear that the court wanted to send a signal: IND, this is not how you should treat foreigners,” Verkouter said.
The Den Bosch court’s verdict did not go unnoticed, Eikelboom added. “It is exceptional for a judge to use such terms. Clearly, the court was fed up with the IND’s attitude.”
If the IND fails to show up, the court can choose to rule in favor of the asylum seeker. But that does not help much, Eikelboom said. The IND can simply appeal and then has to redo all the work and reassess the asylum application. That makes the IND’s absence in cases extra harmful because it only creates more work for itself, the lawyers, and the courts, all while leaving asylum seekers in uncertainty.
The IND does not keep track of how many hearings it did not attend. Based on the information the service provided, Trouw calculated that the IND did not attend about one in ten cases in May.
The IND would not respond publicly to the court’s criticism. The service said it receives schedules from the courts three weeks before the hearing and some weeks are much busier than others, putting “the utmost demands on our capacity and flexibility.”
Of the 201 full-time jobs in the IND’s legal department, about a quarter is unfilled due to long-term absenteeism and vacancies. The service is currently training 28 employees, which also costs capacity.