Approach to problematic asylum seekers

The government is taking various measures to deal with problematic asylum seekers – for example speeding up the asylum application procedure, and giving asylum seekers from safe countries more austere accommodation. Asylum seekers who engage in seriously anti-social behaviour may be transferred to the Enforcement and Supervision Centre (HTL).

Approach to problematic asylum seekers

The Netherlands wants to provide shelter for people fleeing conflict or violence. A small group of asylum seekers is abusing the system by engaging in anti-social behaviour and crime. Various measures may be taken in response. These are tailored to the individual asylum seeker and include:

  • speeding up the asylum application procedure;
  • restricting the freedom of an asylum seeker, for example banning them from leaving a certain area.

Asylum seekers engaging in criminal behaviour are dealt with under criminal law, often in summary proceedings (in Dutch). This may lead to prosecution or a prison sentence.

Immigration system wardens working on nationwide approach

Four immigration system wardens have been appointed. They help the municipal authorities, the police, the Public Prosecution Service (OM), the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) and other parties involved in dealing with problematic asylum seekers. 

Measures to tackle serious or recurring anti-social behaviour

Asylum seekers responsible for the most serious anti-social behaviour may be transferred to the Enforcement and Supervision Centre (HTL). The regime at this centre is stricter. This should lead to fewer problems at other asylum seekers’ centres.

Top-X approach

The Ministry of Justice and Security has now introduced the nationwide Top-X list, with the names of the asylum seekers responsible for causing the most problems. This list is updated every month on the basis of data provided by the COA and the police. The parties involved, including the COA, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V) and the Aliens Police, Identification and People Trafficking Department (AVIM), decide which persons on the list will be targeted individually, and which measures will be taken. The measures may differ from person to person. The municipal authorities, the police and the Public Prosecution Service are also involved in the Top-X approach. The immigration system wardens are introducing the Top-X approach step-by-step around the country. By mid-2020 it should be in force throughout the Netherlands.

Read more about the Enforcement and Supervision Centre (HTL), the Top-X approach and the immigration system wardens in the letter to the House of Representatives on the evaluation of the extra assistance and supervision centres and problematic aliens (in Dutch).

The Enforcement and Supervision Centre (HTL) for asylum seekers who caused a serious nuisance

The Enforcement and Supervision Centre,

or HTL for short, is located in Hoogeveen.

It houses asylum seekers who have previously caused a serious nuisance

in a regular asylum seekers’ centre, or azc.

This might involve the destruction of property, aggression,

bullying or breaking house rules.

The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA)

Asylum seekers who cause serious problems

are transferred to the HTL for a maximum of three months.

They are also subjected to an area order.

This limits their freedom of movement drastically.

Transferring troublemakers to the HTL shows

that we do not tolerate antisocial behaviour.

This leads to improved security and quality of life

in and around asylum seekers’ centres.

Troublemakers who are sent to the HTL

but their movements are restricted.

The HTL is a gated community.

Inside the HTL, the COA works with the DJI,

the Custodial Institutions Agency.

DJI staff ensure that HTL residents comply

with the stipulations in their area orders.

Area orders reduce antisocial behaviour

outside the HTL to the bare minimum.

The house rules inside the HTL are

stricter than in a regular azc.

The asylum seekers attend an intensive, compulsory day

programme, including behavioural training.

They are also given conditions for

their asylum or return process.

Thanks to the HTL, regular azcs and surrounding

areas are safer and more secure:

for our staff, for the majority of asylum seekers who

do not cause trouble and for those who live near azcs.

To sum up, the Netherlands does not tolerate

antisocial behaviour by asylum seekers.

Troublemakers are dealt with severely.

Austere accommodation for asylum seekers from safe countries

Asylum seekers from safe countries will be given very basic accommodation. Generally speaking, they have very little prospect of their application for asylum being approved. Asylum seekers from safe countries are also more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour. The government wants to discourage these asylum seekers from coming to the Netherlands.

Asylum seekers who have received an asylum permit in another EU Member State and who have come to the Netherlands via another EU country, also receive a basic accommodation.

Sober facilities for asylum seekers from safe countries

Asylum seekers from safe countries, such as Algeria or Morocco, have little chance of
obtaining an asylum permit in the Netherlands. The same applies to asylum seekers who have already obtained an asylum permit in another country of the European Union. However, according to international rules, their applications must still be processed. This group places a considerable burden on the organisations that deal with migration. In addition, the group contains a relatively large number of troublemakers. This does not benefit support for the asylum policy as a whole.
As a result, everything focuses on concluding the asylum procedure or departure procedure of this group as soon as possible. These asylum seekers tend to spend a relatively short time in the Netherlands. They are received separately from other asylum seekers, in reception centres with sober facilities.

People do not spend long in these sober places: the Immigration and Naturalisation Service speeds up their asylum application. The Repatriation and Departure Service also handles any departure procedure quickly.
Although the reception centres comply with international rules, the facilities are limited and guidance is focused on returning the asylum seekers to their country of origin.
No asylum seekers from vulnerable groups end up in these separate and sober reception centres. This includes families with minor children up to 16 years of age, single women and LGBTI+ asylum seekers (if known). They are accommodated at other locations and have the same sober facilities. The sober facilities do not apply to unaccompanied minor foreign nationals.
This is what the separate, sober reception centre looks like:
There is a fence around the reception centre. These images show a temporary fence.
The centre has a separate entrance with security.
There is a fence around the reception centre.
The centre has a separate entrance with security and a revolving door for registration.
More employees and security guards are present.
Meals and personal hygiene packages are provided. This means that residents do not
receive any money.
These people share a room with others.
They must also report to the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA)
every day. There is a weekly reporting obligation to the Aliens Police (AVIM).
Asylum seekers whose asylum applications have an obviously low probability of success will receive clarity about their future more quickly. If their asylum application is rejected, they can also leave the Netherlands more quickly.
This curtailment makes it unattractive to start an asylum application with an obviously low probability of success in the Netherlands. Less or no asylum applications with an obviously low probability of success will place the organisations that deal with the asylum procedure under less unnecessary strain. We will then have more time and capacity to help those who are genuinely entitled to asylum more quickly.

Local measures

Ten municipalities will be taking extra measures to deal with problematic asylum seekers (in Dutch), with projects involving special enforcement officers (BOAs), supervisors, coaches and surveillance cameras. The municipalities taking part include Boxmeer, Grave, Nijmegen, Venray, Cranendonck, Oisterwijk, Emmen, Westerwolde and Den Helder. They have regularly experienced problems with asylum seekers, and have now joined forces with central government to take action.

Government agencies working together to deal with problematic asylum seekers

The measures to deal with problematic asylum seekers are being developed and implemented by:

  • the Ministry of Justice and Security
  • municipal authorities
  • the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA)
  • the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND);
  • the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V);
  • Nidos (child protection for refugees);
  • the police;
  • the Public Prosecution Service (OM);
  • the courts.