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Asylum seekers still sent back to Italy by IND

A recent ruling by the Dutch Council of State indicates that asylum seekers may no longer be sent back to Italy. The Council of State increasingly concludes that the countries at Europe's southern and eastern external borders expose migrants to degrading treatment. This in particular is a reason for migrants to travel on to northern Europe.

Dublin Regulation already declared dead

According to the Dublin Regulation, asylum seekers must be sent back to the first European country of arrival. Jorrit Rijpma, Professor of European Law in Leiden, says in Dutch newspaper NRC that 'Dublin' has often already been declared dead. 'On paper it works, but no longer in practice.' This puts a disproportionate burden on European countries at the external borders. Prime Minister Rutte had previously, in 2011, described this as ‘geographical misfortune’.

Italy unable to provide adequate reception

As far as Italy is concerned, enough is enough. The country sent a letter to all 32 countries committed to the Dublin rules that it is no longer able to provide adequate reception to asylum seekers. According to Rijpma, this is unacceptable. Countries must do everything they can to enable the reception of asylum seekers.

For the time being under Dutch responsibility

The ruling of the Council of State is clear about this. Asylum seekers who should actually be sent back to Italy fall under Dutch responsibility for the time being. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) must assess the content of their asylum applications. The IND, however, told NRC that it is not currently planning to do so and will continue with notifications for transfer to Italy.

Stricter new migration pact

Rijpma points out that under the new European asylum and migration pact to replace Dublin, the rules will soon become stricter. With the new migration pact, which has yet to be adopted, asylum seekers will soon complete their asylum procedure at the border of the first country of arrival. This procedure may take up to 60 days in total, including objections and appeals. Rijpma fears 'you cannot avoid detaining people' and foresees hotspots like Moria in Greece. 'If we already fail to provide reception now, I wonder if we will be able to do so later.'

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