Robust asylum system requires better execution

The government agrees with the conclusions drawn by the Van Zwol Committee that the coming years should focus especially on the proper execution of asylum and return procedures, which are currently running aground too often. This information emerged from a letter to the Lower House of Parliament by Minister for Migration Ankie Broekers-Knol, which was approved by the Cabinet.   

The Van Zwol Committee studied all aspects contributing to a prolonged stay in the Netherlands by aliens who do not have the right to residency. The committee was established in response to the events surrounding the planned deportation of two Armenian children. While the committee concluded that Dutch asylum policy and practice are in decent shape, there should be a tangible focus on the speed and timeliness of asylum procedures as well as the reinforcement of repatriation.

‘The current situation leaves a lot of room for improvement, though not by way of new large-scale policies. Our first priority is to do better in areas where the rules already allow it. In conjunction with the executive agencies, the government will endeavour to do so over the years ahead.’

said the Minister. In this regard, she subscribes to the conclusion that asylum practice is under permanent construction.

Stable funding

In order to arrive at better execution, the first key step is to ensure stable funding and staff capacity, in line with the committee's recommendations. To prevent a repeat of the situation in 2017, when staff levels were scaled down in an untimely fashion, the government decided earlier this year to provide structural funding for the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) as well as the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V). An annual amount of 100 million euros will be earmarked for this purpose.

The committee also recommends closely monitoring the IND's lead times, with which advice the Minister wholeheartedly agrees. Prior to the debate on the budget, she will send a letter to the Lower House of Parliament on this topic.

First-time asylum applications

Another of the committee's recommendations is to take the utmost care in processing first-time asylum applications, which will avoid delays further down the procedure. According to the committee, the initial stage of the asylum procedure would therefore benefit from the continued provision of legal aid. However, the government is sticking to the arrangements in the Coalition Agreement on this matter. The Minister will monitor the priority given to the careful processing of first-time asylum applications when fleshing out this measure.


For the most part, the government will adopt the recommendations of the Van Zwol Committee. As a result, the fruitless submission of reapplications will be discouraged and case management will be initiated for asylum files where the country of origin has provided a person's travel documents, which expedites the assessment of the applications. If they wish, children aged between 12 and 15 will be personally consulted as much as possible, while the IND will offer increased clarity into weighing the interests of the child in question when deciding on the asylum application.