Young asylum seeker in Ter Apel, Netherlands | Photo: Petra Katanic/Copyright: De Vrolijkheid
Young asylum seeker in Ter Apel, Netherlands | Photo: Petra Katanic/Copyright: De Vrolijkheid

Restrictions imposed by Dutch immigration authorities on family reunions for asylum seekers are illegal under Dutch, European and international law, a court has ruled.

The court in the Hague ruled in favor of a Turkish citizen who had been granted a stay permit as a politicial refuge and who sought to have his wife and children allowed into the Netherlands.

The ruling was the second of its kind in the past month -- and another setback for the government’s controversial family reunification restriction policy.

This fall, the Dutch government had introduced a rule that requires refugees to wait a minimum of 15 months to be reunited with their families, unless they have their own place to live.

A Haarlem court had ruled in favor of a Syrian woman whose family had been barred from entering the Netherlands in early December. The judges issued a preliminary injunction in the case of the Syrian woman, saying the restriction on family reunification has no basis in law.

Roughly 20 other similar cases are currently pending before the courts, according to the Dutch refugee organization Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland.

Dutch government seeks to curb family reunions despite court ruling

The secretary of state in charge of the matter said that in spite of the court rulings, the government would continue to uphold family reunification restrictions. He argue that the courts had only ruled on individiual cases, not on the entire policy at large.

Dutch News, an English language publication based in the Netherlands, reported that after the first court ruling by judges in Haarlem in favor of family reunification, junior justice minister Eric van der Burg, who oversees the country's refugee policy, said he would continue to call for a halt to family reunification procedures. However, following the latest ruling he has yet to decide whether he will launch an appeal.

Housing crisis

Dutch refugee reception centers are currently at full capacity, as the country grapples with a widespread accommodation shortage. New arrivals have been forced to sleep in overfilled halls.

Earlier this week a Dutch court ruled that asylum seekers arriving in the Netherlands must be accommodated in the same way as refugees from Ukraine. However, the court took note of the current housing crisis, acknowledging that due to the current shortage of accommodation this would be near impossible to put into practice.

The current housing crisis for refugees and migrants is an issue across Europe, including in Belgium and Germany. Thousands of people are currently living in temporary accommodation and face overcrowding and poor conditions.

In August a three-month-old baby died at the Ter Apel central registration camp while overcrowding forced at least 700 asylum seekers to sleep in unsanitary conditions outside the camp. In the same month, Amsterdam approved a plan to temporarily accommodate at least 1,000 migrants on a cruise ship in an attempt to tackle the shortage of accommodation.

In contrast, the Netherlands has provided refugees from Ukraine with a special status and they are being housed by local authorities, usually in better conditions than asylum seekers from other countries.

With dpa


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