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25 May 2020 – Netherlands

Gates of the Zeist Detention Centre in Utrecht, (Ziarah Utara,
Gates of the Zeist Detention Centre in Utrecht, (Ziarah Utara, "Detention centers in The Netherlands," 6 November 2014,

In a response to a GDP survey, Revijara Oosterhuis from the Immigration Detention Hotline (Meldpunt Vreemdelingendetentie) confirmed that as of 15 May, 260 persons remained in detention in the Netherlands. 64 persons with Dublin claims had been released and placed in shelters, followed by an additional 130 persons – although this second group did not receive shelter.

Those who remain in detention have complained about several issues, including the lack of soap and hot water, the fact that guards do not wear masks, the suspension of visits, and the fact that cell doors remain closed for up to 21 hours each day and that no activities are provided for out-of-cell hours. Detainees are held in double cells, which has prompted concerns that they cannot maintain social distancing and conform to hygiene regulations. As the Immigration Detention Hotline noted, “we receive a lot of phone calls from detainees that are stressed out because of the measures, or from detainees that are scared to be infected by the virus.” Worryingly, as Laura Cleton (University of Antwerp) noted in recent correspondence with the GDP, the country’s Ministry of Justice and Security stated in a press release that Covid-19 measures in prisons and immigration detention centres would continue after 19 May until further notice: “this in practice thus still means no visits, limited ‘outdoor time’ and long times locked in cells.”

Although the Immigration Detention Hotline had not heard of any deportations from the country’s immigration detention centres during the pandemic, Oosterhuis added that “a removal to Poland on the 12th of May took place by land. It is also said that they have still deported about 90 persons from the 9th March until the 10th of May – but it is unclear if these persons were refused at the border in the first place and sent back directly.”

During the pandemic, the Netherlands suspended asylum procedures. However, authorities opened a dedicated shelter (Naussaukazerne) in Zoutkamp to house those who sought protection. Asylum applicants were confined in the facility and unable to leave the area, despite the lack of juridical grounds implementing such a rule. However, since 13 May the Zoutkamp facility has instead been used to house infected asylum seekers with their families. Those who were previously here were transferred to regular reception facilities in Ter Apel and Budel, where they can commence “pre-registration” for their asylum application. As of 22 May, approximately 60 persons were held in the facility. According to Cleton, “if their quarantine (2 weeks) is over, they will be transferred again to the reception center in Sneek, where they resided before. The government chose for separate reception to further prevent the spread among other residents of the center.”