No benefits or student finance for jihadist travellers

Persons who leave the Netherlands to join ISIS will have their benefits and student finance stopped. The aim is to prevent Dutch public money from being used to support jihadist violence.

This is one of a number of measures intended to discourage jihadists travelling to countries like Syria. A bill to this effect from Lodewijk Asscher, Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, has been posted on a government website for online debate.

Stopping the benefits and student finance of jihadist travellers is part of a plan of action against jihadism and radicalisation presented in the autumn of 2014. Under current legislation, social security payments can’t be terminated in all cases, and even when they can, stopping them takes time. The new bill will allow benefits to be terminated instantly if it has been established that the person in question has joined a movement like ISIS.

The sanction won’t only apply to people who commit acts of violence in the name of ISIS. Anyone who leaves the country in order to support ISIS or to marry a jihadist will cease to receive any financial support from the government. If they return, they will in theory once more qualify for benefits or student finance if they meet the right conditions. Although jihadist violence prompted the legislation, the act will also apply to persons who support other terrorist organisations.

Online consultation will take place for 4 weeks. Afterwards, the minister will assess the reactions. He is expected to send a final version of the bill to the Council of State for advice this autumn.