SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Coalition party VVD has called for ministers to be stripped of the power to give asylum-seekers facing deportation a last-minute reprieve.
VVD MP Malik Azmani said the current system puts politicians under too much pressure to override the courts, especially in high-profile cases such as that of the Armenian foster children Howick and Lili.
Junior justice minister Mark Harbers allowed the brother and sister, who have lived in the Netherlands for 10 years, to stay in September. They had gone into hiding to avoid being sent to rejoin their mother in Armenia.
Azmani told the Telegraaf that judges should have the last word to avoid ‘abritrary’ decisions. ‘There is no way of checking who is trying to exert influence,’ he said. The MP stressed that he was not criticising the approach taken by his party colleague Harbers, who used his discretionary power 59 times during his first year in office.
His predecessor, Klaas Dijkhoff, now parliamentary group leader of the VVD, issued 240 permits to rejected asylum seekers out of 780 cases that landed on his desk in two years.
However, coalition partners the Christian Democrats rejected the idea of removing the minister’s right to intervene. ‘We shouldn’t allow party politics to sully discretionary powers,’ said justice spokeswoman Madeleine van Toorenburg.
Prime minister Mark Rutte said in the wake of the Howick and Lili case that the cabinet has no plans to change the rules on amnesty for children, despite calls from opposition MPs, celebrities and aid organisations. (DutchNews)