Human Rights Watch is concerned that certain key aspects of Dutch asylum policy and practice violate international and regional human rights norms. In particular, Human Rights Watch's analysis raises questions about Dutch immigration and asylum authorities' use of the AC procedure. At present the procedure is being used for applicants from war-torn and repressive countries, for those with claims involving complex legal and factual issues, and for those who demonstrate signs of trauma, illness, or difficulties presenting their claims. The process is swift and affords applicants little opportunity to benefit from the assistance of lawyers assigned to them. Such cases raise a serious risk of error, against which the limited judicial review on appeal offers an inadequate check. The result is an unnecessarily high risk that the procedure will result in violations of the Netherlands' non-refoulement obligations. It is critical that the government take steps to re-evaluate the AC procedure in light of the numerous rights concerns raised in this report.
Human Rights Watch is also concerned that IND is inappropriately interviewing very young children, and in some cases, misusing that information in the evaluation of their asylum claims. Our findings suggest that the Dutch government's very broad definition of "accompanied children" may in many cases put such children in circumstances that do not serve their best interests. The government of the Netherlands should take immediate steps to ensure its compliance with international commitments for the treatment of children and communicate the importance of these obligations to all asylum and immigration decision-makers.
Finally, current policies regarding the provision of assistance to asylum seekers do not meet basic international standards. At a minimum, the Netherlands must ensure that all asylum seekers whose claims are still under consideration (including on appeal) have access to basic assistance, such as housing and food. The government must also ensure that rejected asylum seekers in particularly vulnerable situations have the ability to appeal to Dutch authorities for continued material assistance.