European Refugee Crisis Leads to Change in Dutch Asylum Policy

Netherlands, 16 Jul - 08 Sep 2015
European refugee crisis leads to change in Dutch asylum policy ++ Moment of glory and darkest hour for Dutch sport ++ Notorious lawyer has high ambitions for his political party. by Frederic van Zinnicq Bergmann
European refugee crisis leads to change in Dutch asylum policy

Only months after the governing VVD-party released a paper on ideas for a very restrictive asylum policy – including the idea that asylum should only be granted to refugees of European origin – the current crisis led to a u-turn.
The Dutch government now sides with France, Italy and Germany in asking for a fair distribution of asylum seekers across all EU countries. Although in proportion to its population, the Netherlands still have less asylum requests than many other countries, 32,000 were registered until begin September - already 7000 more than in the entire year 2014.

In general, there is a great focus on and admiration for the way especially Austria and Germany have welcomed refugees in recent weeks. Prime Minister Mark Rutte was criticised by opposition parties for not having followed the example of his German homologue Angela Merkel and to visit one of the larger Dutch refugee camps.

However, the government is determined to make the case in Brussels for European asylum centres in safe havens outside the EU as the only way to obtain asylum in the EU. Those taking illegal routes into EU countries should be deported to these regional safe havens. The government also wants to grant financial support to countries in regions with many refugees so that asylum seekers stay in their home region.
The fact that the far-right PVV, which is still branding refugees as gelukzoekers (fortune hunters), scores 20 seats in Parliament in recent polls (five up from the 15 it currently holds) shows, however that not all Dutch are enthusiastic about an increased influx of refugees.

Moment of glory and darkest hour for Dutch sport

Just days separated a moment of glory and one of the darkest hours in Dutch sport history. The Dutch sprinter, Dafne Schippers, set a new European record over 200m and came home with a silver and a gold medal. Upon her arrival from Beijing, a cheering crowd welcomed her at the airport.

The Elftal, the Dutch national football team, could not hope for such a warm welcome when returning from Konya, where they had lost 3:0 against Turkey. As they had already lost against Iceland before, the hope of making it to the European Championship in France next year has become very faint.
The performance of the team throughout this qualification has been severely criticised. Many think the former shooting stars, such as Arjen Robben, Wesley Snijder and Robin van Persie are simply too old to bring Oranje back to its former glory.

The likely failure to qualify for the Euro 2016 comes as a shock to Dutch supporters, as the tournament has been extended from 16 to 24 teams and qualification has never been as easy. The Dutch team's fate will be decided in the last game against the already qualified team of the Czech Republic. Although disappointed with the performance of his team and lost his first two games as coach, Danny Blind said he would not resign.

Notorious lawyer has high ambitions for his political party

The lawyer Bram Moszkowicz recently announced the creation of the new party VoorNederland ("For the Netherlands") which he set up with two former PVV members. Whereas far-right Geert Wilders called VNL a 'PVV-light', Moszkowicz believes it will be a realistic alternative to PVV that does not call for unrealistic measures such as closing down all mosques or banning the Quran.
He rather wants a more liberal policy on soft drugs and more severe punishment on crimes such as rape. He himself believes his party will easily obtain six seats in the Dutch parliament.

However, it remains questionable, whether Moszkowicz will be able to obtain his goal as his past makes him a very controversial figure in Dutch society. Apart from being Geert Wilder's lawyer, when he was accused of hate speech and inciting racism, Moszkowicz was also the lawyer of the famous criminal Willem Holleeder.

Moreover, he had Desi Bouterse, president of Suriname as his client and maintained an amicable relationship with him. Bouterse is a very controversial figure in the Netherlands, as he is believed to be behind the torturing and killing of fifteen opponents to his then military regime in 1982. These are known as decembermoorden (December murders), for which he was prosecuted in the Netherlands in 2012.
More recently, Moszkowicz made the headlines for fiscal fraud for which he had to pay a fine of over 400,000 euro.

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