Time out for problem asylum seekers

In future, problem-causing asylum seekers will be given a time out. In such cases, the asylum seekers causing problems will have access to minimal facilities, although they will still receive accommodation and the primary necessities of life. The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) will ensure that all asylum seekers' centres have a time out space. State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol announced these plans on Wednesday in a letter to the House of Representatives.

Time outs can be imposed after an incident with a major impact or worse, such as aggression or violence aimed at COA staff or other residents of the asylum seekers' centre. Any asylum seekers causing problems will then be moved to a soberly equipped room, where they can remain for a period. They will not receive a living allowance, but will receive non-monetary support. If necessary, extra security measures can also be imposed. After the time out, they will either return to their original asylum seekers' centre or be transferred to another one.

Up until now, asylum seekers causing problems could also be barred from asylum seekers' centres, but this is no longer allowed, following a judgment of the European Court of Justice. Due to this, such asylum seekers are either moved to other COA locations or, if a group is involved, they are split up. The time out is an additional measure, which is an important one according to Broekers-Knol.


The vast majority of the asylum seekers in the Netherlands are not causing any problems. However, a relatively small group is causing trouble by shoplifting, engaging in vandalism and threatening others. This is unacceptable behaviour, since it erodes support for asylum seekers' centres, while their residents require protection.

This has led the State Secretary to take a number of measures. These include three chain marines, who have been appointed to aid municipalities, the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the COA in dealing with trouble. Another measure is the Top X list, listing the asylum seekers causing the greatest problems. In addition, an Enforcement and Supervision Location has been opened in Hoogeveen, where asylum seekers causing serious problems can be transferred to. At the local level, municipalities, the COA and the police are imposing area bans and are introducing a requirement to report for such asylum seekers. Of course, any criminal behaviour will be subject to criminal law.