Iraqis were forcibly returned to Iraq in contravention of UNHCR guidelines. The introduction of new accelerated asylum-determination procedures and the detention of asylum-seekers and irregular migrants gave rise to concern.
In September, following criticism by international and national human rights bodies and organizations, the interim government put forward an action plan to combat discrimination before parliament. However, there were concerns that the plan lacked measures to adequately address discriminatory government policies and practices, such as ethnic profiling by law enforcement officials.
In October, in its coalition agreement, the new government announced its intention to introduce legislation that would ban the wearing in public of clothing that is intended to conceal the face. This raised concerns that the prohibition would violate the freedom of expression and religion of women who choose to wear the burqa or niqab as an expression of their identity or beliefs.Top of page
At least 75 Iraqis were forcibly returned to Baghdad, in contravention of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, guidelines. Following a letter from the European Court of Human Rights on 22 October asking the authorities to refrain from returning to Baghdad any Iraqi who challenged his or her return until further notice, the forcible return of a number of Iraqis was deferred.
On 24 November, the government announced that returns would be resumed.
In October, the government announced that returns to Somalia of individuals from Mogadishu had been temporarily suspended because of the security situation in Mogadishu. However, returns of individuals from other parts of Somalia to Mogadishu were still planned.
Despite the lack of a functioning asylum system and concerns, among other things, about detention conditions in Greece, transfers of asylum-seekers to the country under the Dublin II Regulation continued. In October, the Minister of Justice announced that transfers would be temporarily suspended pending outcomes in cases before the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the lawfulness of transfers to Greece.
From 1 July, most asylum claims were processed in a new eight-day asylum procedure, with a possible extension to 14 days in some cases. There was concern that this procedure may impede asylum-seekers from substantiating their claims and result in the rejection of well-founded claims for protection.
According to government figures, 3,980 irregular migrants and asylum-seekers were subject to administrative detention in the first six months of the year. They were held in detention centres under a regime designed for remand prisoners; alternatives to detention were used infrequently. In March, the CERD Committee expressed concern at the practice of detaining families with children and unaccompanied children seeking asylum upon their arrival in the Netherlands.Top of page