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The Netherlands: the Detention of Irregular Migrants and Asylum-seekers

Each year some 20,000 irregular migrants and asylum-seekers are detained in the Netherlands, where the use and duration of detention and other restrictive administrative measures is increasing. This report examines how far these measures have led to a deterioration in the human rights situation of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers. The report examines how far Dutch immigration policy conforms with international human rights law, which considers that immigration detention should be an extreme measure of last resort. It looks at the effect on vulnerable groups, such as children, of increasingly restrictive measures, and considers whether Dutch law and practice allow for sufficient and effective accountability, transparency and accessibility for irregular migrants and asylum-seekers to seek redress and enjoy the protection of their human rights, despite their irregular status. This report concludes that elements of Dutch policies and practices constitute human rights violations. A lack of publicly available statistical data on various aspects of immigration detention prevents adequate parliamentary and judicial scrutiny of whether Dutch policies on irregular migration are effective and proportionate to the goal they aim to achieve and are therefore justified.

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