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Netherlands: Safe Countries of Origin List Expanded

(Oct. 27, 2016) The Dutch Minister for Migration, Klaas Dijkhoff, has expanded the list of countries deemed by the Netherlands to be “safe countries of origin,” to include Algeria, Georgia, the Ukraine and Tunisia, according to an October 11, 2016 announcement. (Minister for Migration Further Expands List of Safe Countries, Ministry of Security and Justice website (Oct. 11, 2016).) Such countries are ones that are sufficiently safe and asylum applicants can return to them without risk. The Dutch government tends to reject the applications for asylum from nationals of those countries; the list therefore serves to quicken the asylum application process. (What Is the List of Safe Countries of Origin?, Government of the Netherlands website (last visited Oct. 24, 2016).) The current list already includes more than 50 jurisdictions.  (Minister for Migration Further Expands List of Safe Countries, supra.)

For asylum seekers from safe countries, applications for asylum are handled under an accelerated procedure consisting of one interview and “may be rejected as manifestly unfounded,” meaning that the rejected applicant must immediately leave the Netherlands and also be subject to “an entry ban for the entire Schengen Area for a period of two years.” (Minister for Migration Further Expands List of Safe Countries, supra.)  While asylum seekers from safe countries of origin will have chance to show why the given country may not be safe in their specific circumstances and can appeal a rejection decision, they are typically not permitted to remain in the Netherlands while awaiting a court decision.  (Id.; What Is the List of Safe Countries of Origin?, supra.)  In the case of Algeria and Tunisia, the countries are safe countries of origin except for LGBT residents, while for Georgia and Ukraine there is an exception for asylum applicants from “certain areas that are not controlled by the authorities.”  (Minister for Migration Further Expands List of Safe Countries, supra.)

Reportedly, Dijkhoff plans to further expand the list by assessing whether “Bangladesh, Brazil, Chad, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Nepal, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa” belong on it. (Id.)

A Ministry of Justice research report, said to be the first investigation of differences in admittance procedures in the European Union, was cited in the press earlier as indicating that “The Netherlands has one of the toughest refugee policies within Europe,” and that refugees were “less likely to be given a residency permit in the Netherlands than in Germany, Belgium or Sweden … .” (Dutch Refugee Policy Is One of the Toughest in Europe, DUTCH NEWS.NL (Feb. 4, 2016); Arjen Leerkes, How (Un)Restrictive Are We?, Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum (2015).)