Dutch refugee detention centres "inhumane"

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The conditions for those awaiting deportation in detention centres in the Netherlands are inhumane according to the Dutch National Ombudsman.

In a report released today, Alex Brenninkmeijer urges the government to come up with better alternatives to the current regime as quickly as possible.

“It is not acceptable that aliens who have been refused permission to stay in the Netherlands are kept in prison-like conditions. It is inhumane to lock up people who have committed no crime like this. The infringement of their human rights is too extreme,” according to the Ombudsman.

Brenninkmeijer acknowledges that detention centres are trying to improve conditions but says progress is too slow. Around 6.000 foreigners are believed to be awaiting deportation in detention. The ombudsman described the conditions they are living in as soul-destroying: “Locked up more than 16 hours per day, in a shared cell of 2 by 5 metres. Only allowed visitors for two hours per week. Not allowed to work. No control over when you go outside.”

Reacting to the report, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Gerd Leers said detention was only ever a very last resort for those who refused to leave the country. It was up to aliens themselves to avoid detention. “Those willing to co-operate with their departure will not be forcibly detained,” he said.