The NGO network European Council on Refugees and Exiles has reported that the length of asylum procedures has significantly increased in the Netherlands, even though the number of asylum seekers arriving in the country has remained relatively stable.
The wait times for asylum seekers to start the process with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) has increased to 20 weeks, compared to eight weeks at the beginning of last year, according to a report presented in parliament by the Dutch Council for Refugees.
This means prolonged periods of legal uncertainty for asylum seekers. During that time, it's impossible for them to start integration and family reunification processes.
Asyl requests increased by 20 percent, wait times by 150 percent
In the first seven months of 2018,
10,270 initial asylum requests were submitted
in the Netherlands, compared to 8,393 in the same period in 2017. Asylum requests are supposed to be processed within eight working days, though the procedure can also be increased to up to six months for cases that require additional evaluation. Additional delays are permitted for complex cases.
Conditions in two centres equivalent to detention?
The Dutch Council for Refugees also criticized the conditions in two structures that, since the end of 2017, have hosted asylum seekers who have seriously violated the rules of reception centres or shown aggressive behavior.
The organisation said asylum seekers in those two centres often suffer from mental health problems or addictions for which they do not receive adequate treatment. The two centres, which in the past functioned as detention structures, work under a restrictive regime. People are initially not allowed to leave the structure, or only allowed to leave only under certain conditions, and are physically searched upon returning. The organisation said this practice is de facto detention.