The Dutch Council for Refugees (in Dutch: Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland; hereinafter: “VWN”) has given the Dutch State and the Dutch Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (in Dutch: Centraal Orgaan Opvang Asielzoekers; hereafter: “COA”) an ultimatum to provide asylum reception facilities that meet the statutory minimum standards. If the State and COA fail to comply by 1 August 2022, VWN will initiate summary proceedings in order to enforce adequate reception.

The Netherlands and the COA are under a legal obligation to receive asylum seekers in a humane manner, in conformity with the minimum norms laid down in the EU Reception Directive, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Additionally, they have a statutory duty to guarantee the right to reception without unjustified distinction between asylum seekers who seek international protection.

VWN asserts that since September 2021, the State and COA have failed to meet these obligations and that their conduct is unlawful.  A large group of asylum seekers – amongst whom many children – live in degrading circumstances, that poses serious risks to their (mental) health. VWN also notes that potential solutions that exist, are left untapped. For example, in June 2022, accomodation that was made available for thousands of Ukrainians remained unused, whilst asylum seekers in the the primary reception facility in the town of Ter Apel were forced to sleep in tents.  Dutch emergency legislation obliges local authorities to create accommodation only for asylum seekers from Ukraine and not for asylum seekers from other countries. The Ministry of Justice and Health and Youth Care inspectorates have highlighted the unjustified distinction between these groups of asylum seekers (link; in Dutch).

The current situation has hardly changed over the past ten months, and there is no prospect of a solution in the foreseeable future. As such, VWN finds the current approach is unsustainable, and stresses that adequate reception facilities will have to be enforced, if necessary, by going to Court.

Click here to read VWN’s press release on the legal action.

VWN is represented in these proceedings by lawyers Tom de Boer and Thomas van der Sommen.

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