Dutch News

10 November 2014
EU committee of Social Rights: violations in the Netherlands

Access to emergency social assistance for homeless people and irregular migrants in the Netherlands is not in line with the country’s commitments under the European Social Charter, according to two decisions published today by the European Committee of Social Rights. Food, water, shelter and clothing should be ensured for refugees exhausted of all legal procedures.

 Some of the larger Dutch cities will finally be able to do what the State Secretary of Justice Fred Teeven has forbidden for a long time, namely giving shelter to homeless refugees. But Teeven already indicated that he is not going to spent any budget on it. In Amsterdam a large group of refugees exhausted of all legal procedures is already living like nomads for a few years, moving from one temporary shelter to the next one.


The asylum seekers policy is quite important for both coalition partners in the Dutch government. The liberal party VVD from prime minister Marc Rutte wants to be a strict as possible so voters will not go over to the right wing PVV from Geert Wilders and the social democrat party PvdA are afraid of losing voters to left wing opposition when the policy becomes too harsh.


In relation to a complaint from the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) concluded that legislation and practice in the Netherlands does not ensure sufficient access to shelter for those in need or guarantee sufficient quantity and quality of shelter to vulnerable groups, including children.


The committee also found that arrangements on access to emergency shelter are in breach of the authorities’ obligation under the charter to prevent poverty and social exclusion. Furthermore, emergency shelter is not provided to everyone with a valid claim to it, including migrants in an irregular situation, and migrant workers and their families have insufficient access to accommodation.


Regarding a separate complaint, lodged by the Conference of European Churches, the ECSR concluded that a large majority of irregular adult migrants in the Netherlands are not offered emergency social assistance including food, water and clothing. Adult migrants in an irregular situation are also denied access to emergency shelter whilst in the country’s jurisdiction.


In line with usual procedure, the two decisions have now been transmitted to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers which is expected to adopt a resolution on the follow-up to be given to the decisions in early 2015.



Council of Europe tells the Netherlands to take care of failed asylum seekers


European Committee of Social Rights

European Social Charter

De Volkskrant






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