Chapter 1: Refugees
Chapter 2: The Borderprison
Chapter 3: Daily life
Chapter 4: Medical care
Chapter 5: Protest
Chapter 6: Restriction of freedom
Chapter 7: Expulsions
Chapter 8: Intimidations
Chapter 9: Conclusions
This publication is a summary of the dutch texts that were (Autonomous Centre) published on May 5, 1993.
Chapter 7: Expulsions
The justice department apparently intended the border prison in order to be able to expell those refugees whom the justice department considered had made an 'asylum request without grounds' quickly. Additionally it was to prevent those whose asylum requests were denied from disappearing into illegality. In practice people are not expelled that quickly, often refu- gees are detained longer than three months. Moreover, it has become clear that some twenty regugees have been dumped from the border prison. Some of these got an order to leave the country within twentyfour or fortyeight hours. Most were simply put out into the street without such an order, but with the comment "These are the Netherlands, Amsterdam is that way".
Dumped refugees are forced into illegality by the justice department. They have no home and no money. Much less do they have enough money to be able to buy a ticket within twentyfour hours and to leave the country. In any case where should they go? Ask for asylum in another European country? Then they must do this under another name, because the Schengen accords dictate that an asylum request can only be considered in one country that has signed this treaty.
There are three different categories of refugees who have been put out into the street from the border prison in the past year. Firstly there are those whom the justice department attempts to expell to the supposed country of origin, where the refugee is not accepted and is therefore 'ping ponged' back to Schiphol, where the refugee is put out into the stree- t. Secondly there are the refugees who have been detained in the border prison for some time. They await expulsion after their asylum request has been denied. In many case the justice department does not believe or doubts their nationality. Often the justice department claims that the refugees do not co-ope- rate with their identity investigation. However, many refugees are never presented at an embassy or consulate, or when they are it is often one representing another country. As a result many refugees are kept detained for five or six months which is about the maximum time that aliens are kept in detention. They are taken to Schiphol and quietly dumped out into the street. The justice department hopes to avoid possi- ble jurisprudence (a history of legal cases) because refugees may win requests to end detention (article 40 Vw). After several of such cases a maximum term of detention under article 7a might emerge. A detention under article 7a Vw, which can evidently be for a number of months, should formally lead to expulsion. Sometimes dumped refugees are not taken to Schiphol (border zone) but walk out of the border prison themselves or are taken to the bus stop.
Thirdly there are those refugees who have been transferred to a remand prison due to alleged misbehaviour and whose release has been ordered by a court. Generally these refugees are dumped at the prison gate. This may mean that they are sudden- ly in the Netherlands after all, the country which initially refused to accept them. Their 'status' is changed by this. The border prison management will not take them back. Most will face the same fate as other dumped refugees. Some are allowed to enter a refugee reception centre, but only when they have not lost their court case. A lawyer's assistance is indispen- sible because the justice department will not offer a place in a reception centre.
Only once a lawyer has put pressure on the justice department is placement possible in a refugee reception centre.
The first case of dumping we heard about concerns mr. A. On the 26th of November 1992 he was put out into the street with the request to leave the country within twentyfour hours. He had been detained for more than six months. In August the justice department tried to expell him to Ghana, using five military cops to take him there despite his protests that he was not from Ghana and that that country would not accept him. On the way back to the Netherlands the military cops threate- ned him with dire punishments once back in the Netherlands. On the 18th of August 1992, one day after this expulsion attempt, he was taken back to the border prison, where he was detained until the 26th of November without any further investigation of his identity.
His case was publicised and not long after this he was relea- sed. The justice department spokesperson Riphagen stated (HP/De Tijd op Zondag 6-12-1992) that the justice department must release people like mr. A. because they are a nuisance and because a judge could decide at any moment to release them.
On Wednesday evening 2nd December 1992 two refugees who had been in solitary confinement (isolation) in a regular prison (Bijl- mer Bajes) were collected by the military cops and taken to Schiphol. Subsequently they were released, without money and whilst their identity papers were still with the justice department. The two refugees asked where they should go and how they should find food. The reply: " This is Hol- land, there is MacDonalds, you can go".
Another refugee was released from the border prison on the 2nd of December 1992. We heard from the lawyers that the releases would occur from the border prison. We wanted to meet the refugees at their release and went to the border prison. We heard from the border prison staff that the release would be the next day. The next day it became clear that the refugees had been dumped the previous evening after all.
On the 8th of December 1992 three refugees were released, two from the border prison and one from a regular prison (Bijmer Bajes) this refugee had been in another prison, but the court had ordered an immediate release. All three refugees were taken to Schiphol and released in the arrivals hall, without money or identity papers.
On the 14th of December 1992 two refugees who had been placed in a remand prison at Veenhuizen are released by order of court. In the mean time they had been transferred to another remand prison at Hoorn. One refugee refused to leave the prison on the grounds that it was very cold that night and that he had nowhere to go and no money. He laid down outside the gate. A guard who thought that this was all very odd to say the least gave the refugee fifty guilders to buy a train ticket. The refugee went to Assen to claim the damages awarded by the court there for his wrong- ful imprisonment. He was not able to show any identity papers as these were still in the border prison and was not given any money for this reason. Subsequently the justice department appeals against the dama- ges claim and won the appeal.
At the beginning of November 1992 Mr. J. had been detained in the border prison for five months. His requests to be presen- ted at an embassy had not been answered. During the case dealing with his request to end detention the justice depart- ment claimed that he had refused to co-operate with the inves- tigation of his identity. Within a few days his lawyer sent a letter to the justice department in which Mr. J. declared that he would co-operate in every possible way to establish his identity. For four weeks nothing happened. On the 30th of November 1992 he was transferred with nine others to a remand prison. His immediate release was ordered by the Amsterdam court some two weeks later. This refugee who had been detained for more than six months was put out into the street together with another whose request to end detention had also been granted by the Amsterdam court.
On the 15th February 1993 mr. J. whom the justice department had earmarked as new 'leader' for some time, was suddenly taken to Schiphol and released. He was not given the opportu- nity to take leave from the other refugees. Moreover, he was not told what was to happen to him till the very last moment. He was under a great strain as he naturally thought that he was going to be deported. This person had been detained for four months and had been presen- ted once at his national embassy, where he gave another nationality out of fear for being deported. Nothing more happened until his release on the 15th of February.
On the 16th of February mr. C. was called to the BSD (Social Services Bureau) whilst he was at medical services because he had suffered headaches for a very long time. As he had spent the morning in bed feeling unwell, he was still wearing pyjama trousers. At the BSD he was told that he would be taken away. For a moment he thought that he would be taken to hospital. He was not allowed to get his belongings himself and it was forbidden for him to get dressed or to phone his lawyer. He was taken to Schiphol and released, wearing pyjama trousers and barefoot, with his clothes and belongings in a sack. He was at this time still holding an important item belonging to another refugee in the border prison. Mr. C.'s lawyer applied in vain to the justice department for mr. C. to be presented at his embassy. The justice department did nothing. A member of staff of the BSD told mr. C. that a presentation would be arranged. At the time of his release he had been detained three months.
We have been in correspondence with the aliens division of the justice department to ask for clarification of the position of these and other dumped refugees. The reply is a standard one: These persons have not revealed their true identity and refuse to co-operate with the investigation. Therefore, (according to the justice department) it is their own fault that they are detained in the border prison for such a long time.
to and fro
Mr. G. was deported to Nigeria in March of 1993. Despite the fact that he had informed several officials in advance that he was Liberian and would possibly be refused in Nigeria, the deportation went ahead anyway. He had been in the border prison since the beginning of November 1992. In the second week of February 1993 he was presented at the Nigerian embas- sy, where it was established that he was not a Nigerian natio- nal. The atmosphere in the aircraft en route to Lagos could be called normal, the accompanying military cops were not nasty. This changed when the refugee was able to inform the Nigerian border authorities that he was Liberian. The accompanying military cops did their utmost to persuade the Nigerians to accept the refugee. He was sent back with the next plane. On the way back he was threatened by the military cops, he was to face imprisonment on arrival in the Netherlands. On arrival at Schiphol a military policewoman asked him to follow her. He was utterly astonished when she left him in the middle of the arrivals hall. He followed her to ask her what this all meant and she replied that he must leave the Netherlands within twentyfour hours. To his question asking where the exit was she replied that she did not know and that he should sort it out himself.
One of the six refugees who were transferred to the remand and military prison at Nieuwersluis was put out into the street within two days. Another was admitted to a refugee reception centre. Yet another was deported after the Utrecht court heard his request to end detention, but before the court ruled on the request. The remaining two were put out into the street when the Utrecht court ordered their immediate release.
One of these, a Liberian, had been taken to the Liberian embassy in Brussels, as part of the identity investigation according to the accompanying officers. It turned out however, that the aim of the visit was to obtain a laisez-passer for Liberia, that the refugee could be expelled. The ambassador refused to co-opera- te with sending people to a country where the situation is unclear and life threatening and was therefore forced to declare that the man was not Liberian. The result was that the justice department saw their suspicion that the man was not Liberian confirmed and had him presented at the Nigerian embassy two weeks later. Since he was Liberian, there was no document issued here either. The justice department concluded that the man could not be expelled; he was dumped.
Most of these people have therefore been dumped out into the street, whereas the justice department has hardly taken any trouble to establish their identity. This is due to the fact that the justice department does not care about their identity and is only interested in their removal. It is not feasible to hold them any longer, dumping them out into the street is the easiest solution if expulsion fails.
In cases of dumping and expulsion the refugees concerned are often not informed about their fate until the very last mo- ment. This means that they are often not able to take their leave of friends, room mates and other refugees. One is locked into the waiting room or in the BSD office whilst border prison staff gathers one's personal possessions. The refugee is then taken to Schiphol. Often the refugee is not told about what is going to happen and only realises it at Schiphol Airport.
The reason why people are only informed of deportation minutes before being put aboard an aircraft is probably the fear of the justice department that people will resist deportation. The reaction of refugees who hear that they are going to be depor- ted is unpredictable. The people who manage to prevent their deportation are punished with solitary confinement (isolation) in the transit wing of the border prison.
Lately the justice department's policy relating to dumping seems to have changed. Refugees are still being dumped out into the street, but the justice department 'tries harder' to deport them yet, more often 'successfully' and swifter than previously. Refugees who are to be deported are searched thoroughly at Schiphol. According to refugees, any documents showing that they did not come from the country they are to be deported to are taken away. The military cops generally pass all documents to the authorities of the country the refugee is deported to. Some refugees manage to keep some documents with themselves. If the refugee is not accepted he is flown back to the Netherlands. Lately the returned deportee is no longer dumped at Schiphol, but moved to a transit cel in the border prison. It is odd that article 7a Vw refugees are put into transit cells, because these have a more restricted regime than the rest of the border prison. After about a week the refugee is deported again to the same country, where he is accepted this time after all. Why refugees are accepted this time round is not clear to us. Often it concerns Nigeria and it seems that there has been an arrangement between the Ne- therlands and Nigeria. In the case of mr. B. a first expulsion was unsuccessful, but the second time round he was accepted. It turns out that the justice depart- ment sent a letter addressed to the Nigerian immigration police along, to be handed over by the military cops who deported him. The letter mentioned a treaty between the Netherlands and Nigeria which provides that all persons who fly from Lagos to Schiphol and who ask for asylum here or whose identity papers are not in order, will be picked out at the called Lagos gate at Schiphol and will be retur- ned to Lagos as soon as possible. Mr. B. was not presented at any embassy during the three months that he was detained. He had a Liberian passport, but he was deported to Nigeria becau- se he had boarded his flight to the Netherlands in Nigeria. He was deported together with twentythree Nigerians who did not get through the gate check at Schiphol. Fourteen military cops accompanied the flight and they were in a boisterous mood during the flight to Lagos. They made jokes, even when mr. B. said that he would be refused. He was indeed refused (as opposed to all the others), as he was able to show his pas- sport. On the flight back to Holland the atmosphe- re was much less pleasant; the military cops threatened to execu- te him above the Sahara and they said that they would fly him twenty times to and fro until he would finally be deported. At Schip- hol it turned out that his luggage containing all his personal possessions had disappeared. When he complained about this he was beaten up by five military cops. He was put into solitary confinement in the transit wing of the border prison. Finally he was deported again nine days later. This time 'successful- ly' because the military cops presented the above mentioned letter from the justice department about the treaty between the Netherlands and Nigeria to the immigration police. The justice department claims that mr. B. was arrested at the Lagos-gate at Schiphol, but has no evidence at all that this actually happened (no ticket, no arrest paper nor anything of the kind). Mr. B. says that he was not arrested at the gate but elsewhere at Schiphol. It occurs more and more often that people who have been in the border prison for some time and about whom the justice department says that they do not co-o- perate with their identi- ty investigation, are flown to some country, without a laisez-passer. It is not clear if the covering letter is filled in by the BSD or by the military police. This is a letter containing the personalia of the refugee to be deported, a nationality selected by the justice department and a photo- graph. This document, together with the called `removal order` - a claim on the airline company who brought the refu- gee over to the Netherlands without valid papers in the first place - suffice to put someone out of the country. Many Libe- rians disappear to Nigeria in this way. The BSD is sometimes involved in the withdrawal of an asylum request. As article 7a refugees are considered to be without a chance, the bureau adds insult to injury. A returnflight is arranged as soon as a refugee lets it be known that he wants to leave. Refugee C. who had been in the border prison for one week got upset with his situation that he withdrew his asylum request. He could not cope with detention. His deportation was arranged immediately. A refu- gee was once called to the BSD and was told to select a natio- nality. He was asked: "To which African country do you want to go?". Naturally the refugee answered that he did not want to go to an African country and that he was in the Netherlands to ask asylum. He was then told that he could be kept in detenti- on for another two years if this was his attitude. He was not intimidated and he was told that he would be deported to Nigeria. After a few weeks he was put out into the street.