The Council of Europe, in a 26 March statement, mentioned Netherlands as being one of a handful of countries in Europe to have released some immigration detainees because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, other reports indicate that as of the end of March, people continued to be placed in immigration detention and that insufficient steps were being taken to protect them from contracting the disease. In some cases, detainees continued to be locked up for 21 hours a day without access to soap, gloves or masks.
According to an NGO in Belgium, Flemish Refugee Action (Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen), in contrast to the situation in Belgium, the Netherlands continued to provide emergency shelters for those seeking asylum despite the fact that the asylum application process has been suspended. A temporary emergency shelter was made operational from 20 March 2020 in Willem Lodewijk van Nassaukazerne in Zoutkamp. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service stated that until 6 April 2020, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers “will not receive or admit foreign nationals arriving in the Netherlands to a reception centre.”
In Dutch prisons, several measures have been taken since 14 March 2020 in order to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak. All prisoners presenting Covid-19 symptoms will be isolated and visits have been suspended save for lawyers and family/responsible adults for minors. Prisoners that have authorisations to leave prison during the day or the weekend are forbidden from doing so temporarily. On 19 March 2020, the first prisoner with Covid-19 was confirmed in the Scheveningen prison facility hospital.
- Council of Europe, “Commissioner Calls for Release of Immigration Detainees During Covid-19 Crisis,” 26 March 2020, https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/-/commissioner-calls-for-release-of-immigration-detainees-during-covid-19-crisis
- Immigration and Naturalisation Service, “Emergency Accommodation for Third-Country Nationals in Groningen,” 20 March 2020, https://ind.nl/en/news/Pages/Emergency-accommodation-for-thirdcountry-nationals-in-Groningen.aspx
- Immigration and Naturalisation Service, “New Corona Measures, Limited IND Services,” 15 March 2020, https://ind.nl/en/news/Pages/New-corona-measures,-limited-IND-services-.aspx
- Y. Tieleman, “First Corona Infection in Prison: Prisoner in Prison Hospital Infected,” AD, 19 March 2020, https://bit.ly/2JaARzN
- J. de Geird, “First Dutch Prison Inmate Diagnosed with Coronavirus,” NL Times, 19 March 2020, https://nltimes.nl/2020/03/19/first-dutch-prison-inmate-diagnosed-coronavirus
- Vluchtelingenwek Vlaanderen, “Government closes immigration office, homeless centres close doors, children on the street”, 17 March 2020, www.vluchtelingenwerk.be/nieuws/regering-sluit-dienst-vreemdelingenzaken-daklozencentra-doen-deuren-dicht-ook-kinderen-op
- Global Detention Project, Immigration Detention in Netherlands, www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/netherlands