Chapter 1, control, made to measure

Chapter 2, administrative apartheid

Chapter 3,Mobil Surveillance of Foreigners

Chapter 4, Own people, first or last?

Chapter 5, Exclusion as an ideological instrument

Chapter 6, And technology, it grew on ...

Control, made to measure?

After years of political discussion, the Bill on Identification (WID) came into operation on the first of June 1994. In the discussion the 'limited' identification duty has won over the total. In practice though, non-white people are faced with a complete identification duty.

The maintaining of the identification duty takes place through the Bill on Anonymous Suspects, passed in march 1993. Anyone who can't identify him/herself in the situation where it is required, can be searched and held for six hours. It is also allowed to take photo's and fingerprints. Only as a last resort, 'for easier tracing and prosecution of offenses and crimes', the identification duty can play a part. Fighting fraud, maintaining public order and controls on illegal foreigners are the main topics. In the case of fighting fraud the WID fulfils a role in combination with a policy of prevention. Concerning the control on illegal foreigners the WID is used as an independent instrument. As a part of the "Bill on Identification at Financial services", which came into working the first of february 1994, there is an obligation to identify yourself for all financial transactions. Since the first of june 1994 this also applies for applications for social benefit and at requesting a social-fiscal number. With freeriding in public transport, there has to be a policy of prevention before the WID can come into action. Transportcompanies should also try the civil judicial path, in a repressive manner, to combat freeriding. The third important focus of the Bill is the obligation to identify yourself at a footballmatch. The Bill can be applied on supporters when there is 'reasonable suspicion that they will be involved in vandalism.'

Surveillance of foreigners

The most important focus of the Bill on Identification (WID) is the checking of illegal foreigners. The motivation for this application, was the lifting of the bordercontrols. Ironically the border(area)controls were intensified with the WID. At the same time of the implementation of the WID the internal control of foreigners was also intensified. At the border the Mobil Surveillance Foreigners (MTV) has been instated, in the whole of the country the foreigners-services of the police (VD) have been reinforced with 800 officers. The ministry of justice and the policeforces have made agreements in which the numbers of illegal foreigners, that have to be actually deported, are fixed.

To increase the control on status of residence of migrants, the Foreigners Bill has been changed so that identity-controls apply to everyone, including people with Dutch nationality, since the first of june 1994. This seemingly small change is important because the restriction of the old Bill, that only foreigners could be checked, has been dropped. In the past the police would have to have 'a reasonable suspicion' that someone was a foreigner. This small change has enormous consequences. Because it now applies on everyone, they don't need 'a reasonable suspicion' any more. It furthers the possibilities of easy checking. In practice, and that is not only proven with the examples in this brochure, the police still select on appearance or other ethnic features, both in street and bordercontrols. A similar change took place in the WABW, the Bill on Labour of Foreign Employees. Earlier, only foreigners had to be able to identify themselves when checked by the Service Inspection Labour Relations (DIA), now everyone has to.


To be able to judge the cases of the practice to their legality, the guidelines for controls are important to know. The mentioned guidelines in the Bill are explained in part A5/ of the Foreigners Circulaire. Identity-controls are allowed if there are concrete indications of illegal residence. But how concrete is concrete? Firstly, there can be resolved to an identity-control on the basis of information of government institutions. As examples, the Social Security Service and the Inspection Social Affairs and Employment (ISZW), the former DIA, are mentioned. This means that information of these institutions can end up at the foreignersservices. Secondly information of investigation by the police can provide 'concrete indications of illegal residence'. 'Experience-information' of prior establishing of illegal residence forms an important part of these indications. Especially the Horeca-teams (Hotel and Catering) and the teams against womentraders collect this kind of information. Next to the guidelines, in all policeregions the same priority is given to the tracing of illegal foreigners. In all covenants, which the foreigners-services have concluded, the same list appears identically: criminal foreigners, disturbance causing illegals, expulsion of people whose procedure has ended and combined action with the ISZW.

Identification Duty

The first selection at streetcontrols by the police usually is done on colour of skin: black/coloured people, people who look different, non-dutch and dutch alike, are been held in the search for illegal foreigners. Black and coloured people of Dutch nationality, both from origin and those naturalised, and people still in the asylum- or family-reunification-procedure are the victims of these forms of control. Identitycontrol takes place on the public road and other public places, other than the street, e.g. in and around stations, platforms of railway-stations, subways, parts of the city centre of big towns etc.. The police are the ones doing these kind of checks of personal information. In the policecar a computer is carried with which the status of residence, of the person held, can be checked immediately.

Those controlled who can't show identification-papers, are almost always taken to the police station, after a brief check at the spot. At the station a further investigation into the persons identity is held. One can be jailed in a policecell for a maximum of ten days, when the investigation takes more time or when the person concerned doesn't have a residence permit. From the policecell they can be expulsed immediately or foreigners-detention follows. There has to be an injunction of expulsion or this has to be given soon. The person can be detained both in a policecell or a prison for foreigners, like the Willem II in Tilburg, on the ground of article 26 of the Foreigners Bill. This article doesn't have a time-limit and accordingly people are often detained for along time. This can be up to nine months or more. The basis of article 26 is that the person concerned is a 'problem' for the public order and security. This means that he or she could go into hiding to avoid expulsion. Almost half of the illegal foreigners are not expulsed from the country, out of the policecell or the prison, as was the intention in the first place. They are put back on the street, 'illegalized.'

Emergency regulations

In certain parts of south-east Amsterdam, like the Ganzenhoef and Fazantenhof, emergency regulations are declared in order regularly. A regulation against unlawful gatherings is in order then, which forbids a gathering of four persons in a group. The reason given for these regulations is to fight the disturbance of public order. This goes so far that on public roads lines are drawn, like borders, which one can't cross. Certain areas are indeed 'problem-areas' but disturbance is a broad term, open for broad interpretation and selective application. Moreover, these unlawful-gathering regulations victimise everyone, and black people specially, since disturbance of public order, security and criminality are often mentioned in connection to illegal foreigners and black people. Also in Amsterdam, the so-called Easter offensives have been held for the last few years. According to the Ministry of Justice and the police whole troops of criminal illegals, mostly from North-Africa, come to Amsterdam to steal from tourists. And action has to be taken against that. Cells are kept free specially, for them. And then the police goes to work by regular razzia-like checks in the town-centre and at certain metro-stations. During the Easteroffensive of 1995, the police made notice of a number of people who were caught in the act, while stealing in a bus of English tourists. It stayed unclear how many people it concerned that were actually stealing and what happened to their case. Many are arrested during these Easter offensives without committing a crime. The strange thing is that all these suspects don't go to court on the basis of criminal law, although illegals are also liable under criminal law. The suspect has to be able to defend him/herself with the help of a lawyer. Instead during these offensives the people are arrested on the basis of the Foreigners Bill, and kept in policecells and prisons for illegal foreigners for months, without any form of trial. A sort of administrative detention, after which illegals are expulsed if that is possible.
The combination of the words illegal and criminal is popular with the Ministry of Justice and the police. Negative images about illegal foreigners are fed this way, also by putting suspected illegals, without a trial, in foreignersdetention. The stories of the practice show that the regulations for the Identification Duty are not followed up so thoroughly. An analysis of a large number of trials (of foreigners) shows the same image (Migrantenrecht 1995, 1, p.8-13). The court judged that the police, in a number of cases, had checked the identity unlawfully. In the following cases the judge thought that there were to few concrete indications of illegal residence:

* foreigner held at a check because he looked suspicious, no further details (ZP Den Bosch 13/6/1994 AWB 94/3169);
* foreigner held in a newly built area during a routine policecheck, for prevention against burglary, in now way it was shown that he was behaving suspiciously in the area (ZP Den Bosch 28/6/1994 AWB 94/3376);
* the file shows no indication of guilt of a crime or offence, arrest unlawful, no concrete indication of illegal residence, unlawfully held, detention unlawful (ZP Haarlem 9/8/1994 AWB 94/2797);
* suspicion of drugrunning (driving in a car with French registration by youthful persons) unjust, after that WVW-control, only after this concrete indication of illegal residence, arrest unlawful therefor unlawful detention (ZP Den Bosch 23/8/1994 AWB 94/5683).

For comparison a few cases in which the court contended with the arrest:
* caught in the act, no identification (Haarlem 21/7/94 94/2313);
* investigation after report of theft, foreigner walked away, at first arrest on suspicion of criminal act, no identitypapers, arrest lawful (Haarlem 22/7/94 94/832);
* when searching a house a large sum of money was found by the RC, reasonable suspicion of guilt, house is known for drugdealing, arrest lawful (Haarlem 11/8/94 94/2871);
* from own investigation by the police empty buildings are known in which illegal foreigners regularly reside, lawful (Haarlem 11/8/94 94/2984);
* control of cleaner at checkpoint KMAR, foreigner couldn't identify himself, further investigation showed false permanent residence permit and prior expulsion, arrest lawful (Haarlem 27/6/94 94/1867);
* at traffic-check the status of residence of driver is unclear, french-speaking passengers where also checked and found to be illegal. The court judged that the procedure, in accordance with the exercise of other policetasks showed sufficient concrete indications (Haarlem 20/7/94 94/2014);
* after investigation into a fraud-gang, report of a man trying to open a bankaccount with suspected false passport, arrest ex art. 19 lawful (Haarlem 19/11/94 94/4823).

It is of importance that, in contrast with the past, a wrongful application of the identification duty, has as consequence the lifting of foreigners detention.

Computer registration

In the agreements of execution, which were signed in 1995, in the context of the extension of control of foreigners, the different policeregions all gave priority to administration. In nearly all regions the Foreigners Administration System (VAS) is implemented, or will be. In the near future, this registration will form the most important part of the control on foreigners.

Since year and a day foreigners in the Netherlands have been registered at the different local foreigners services (VD) of the police. In the past this was done with a card-registration, with the arrival of the computer, most VD's have changed to an automated registration. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) of the Ministry of Justice keeps an extensive registration of all who have applied for asylum. Besides this the Marechausse (KMAR), the military police concerned with bordercontrol, keep registration of those not allowed to enter the country. At the moment there is also a European experiment to exchange fingerprints of asylum-seekers in an automated way.

With VAS was already started in 1982, only the goal has been redirected through the years. In the early eighties the goal was to speed up the procedures and to relieve the work of the VD's. The VAS, as it is now, will also play a key-role in the arrest and expulsion of illegal foreigners. With the exchange of data about foreigners, as well as with police-controls, the VAS will play an important role. Every VD will have its own system called DVAS, which is a part of the bigger one. In this DVAS extensive files are kept. In addition there will be a Central Register Foreigners (C.R.V.), which will be under the supervision of the Central Recherche Information-service (the CRI, the dutch equivalent of Scotland Yard). In this system a number of basic-data of all foreigners residing in the Netherlands will be kept. Besides information about identity, information about status of residence and a possible pseudonym will be registered. Each foreigner will get a CRV-number and a remark of which VD (s)he resides under. VD's will have access to the system day and night. Moreover they can communicate with each other and with the Ministry of Justice to request and exchange information (the graphic shows the structure quite clearly). Next to personal data the VAS will also have a picture of the foreigner, equally accessible. In a different system, called VISAGE/VRD, photos with 'optimal colour-quality' are kept. They are directly linked to VAS through another number.

The VAS will be an extensive information system about all immigrants in the Netherlands. Because the information is filed everywhere in the same way the exchange of data is very easy. Not only within the system but also with other systems. Besides that, it is possible with VAS to get information needed in a procedure which a foreigner is in, a sort of standard form system. Last but not least, the system makes it possible to sort out information in different categories. So VAS can make a print-out of all foreigners above the age of 15, all foreigners who didn't report to the VD or of all Turkish people in the Netherlands. The VAS will play a major role in the exclusion of illegal foreigners of services like social security, rentsubsidy etc.. In the future civil servants will have to check the status of every foreigner who applies for a service. The legal arrangement for this have been made with the Linking Act (see chapter 2). These controls of foreigners will be done via the Municipal Basic Administration (G.B.A.). After pressure from parliament space will be created in this system to differentiate between 9 different residence permits. VAS will be the supplier of this system.

The exchange of information is not limited between the VAS and (semi-)governmentservices. The exchange will also work the other way round. The Social Security Service will have to pass information to the VD if someone is getting unemployment benefit. This can have an effect on the residence permit, which is in some case only given for work.

The VAS will also be an important instrument in streetcontrols. The data-bases of the CRV will be freely accessible to all policeforces, so that controls on the basis of the new Identification Bill can be quickly executed. The argumentation is that foreigners won't get into the situation any more, where they are arrested and held for a day to check their residence permit. Against this apparent advantage one can put the immanent danger of increasing controls. It will be very simple to check somebody's status when they stop a person, who looks like a foreigner. The problems which this causes are clear, in practice black people will be checked. For black people of Dutch nationality, a strange situation will arise. Since they are not foreigners, they are not registered in VAS, so they will have to prove that they are of Dutch nationality, a reversal of burden of evidence. Together with the new law on identification, VAS will be the coping-stone of the investigation and arrest of illegal foreigners. (S)He who can't identify him/herself, isn't registered in VAS, or is registered as illegal, will be removed.

Graphic: Registration of Foreigners in the Netherlands

VD's = regional foreigner services DVAS = Part Foreigners Adminstration System VAS = Foreigners Administration System CRI = Central Recherche Information Service CRV = Central Register Foreigners Gemeente afdeling burgerzaken = Community civil service GBA = Community Basic Administration Sociale Dienst = Social Security service Uitkerende instanties = other social security services uitvoerende instanties = executive services/institutions verzekeringswetten = insurance laws belastingdienst = tax office


Ben and other people, living in the same house, walk to their home, an apartment on the first floor, in spring 1994. They leave the door open because a few others are still to come. The go to the living-room on the first floor when they hear footsteps on the stairs. Before they know what is happening a couple off policemen are in the middle of the room. They start looking around and ask questions, without asking they check the part of the room where people sleep, a part of the room closed with a curtain. The occupants laconically don't answer the questions. When the last occupant of the house walks in, he gets very scared by the policemen and runs down the stairs and outside. The officers go in pursuit and catch him. He is asked for his identitypapers, which he can not show. He is taken to the station, where they check the name he gave. The registration shows that his procedure has finished some time a go while he was in the border-prison ('grenshospitium'). From there he was dumped on the street, in to illegality, because the Ministry of Justice couldn't expulse him. The officers let him go after a few hours in a cell; he is still non-expulsable. Because he got dinner in the policecell, he asks, at his release, if he can have dinner there again tomorrow. Until now he still lives in the Netherlands as an illegal.

Abdallah and Firoesh are going home. It is weekend and they are both good humoured because as of next week they can go to school. They just passed the central trainstation of Heerlen when they are stopped by a policecar. Doors open and identity-papers are demanded. Confronted with this conduct Abdallah loses hope. All these months he has been living in fear and uncertainty. His friend is lucky enough to be let go after he has explained that his identitycard is at home. Abdallah has to get in and is taken to the station. He is held there for four days and the taken to the foreigners prison Willem II. The fact that he doesn't cooperate with his expulsion is the motivation against him. He has to wait along time for a reply of the Ministry of Justice. Because they have made some blatant errors his lawyer wants the case re-examined. The papers, which were very important to his case, were sent to another refugee, which makes it difficult to the defence. Finally he loses everything and is expulsed by the Ministry of Justice.

Patrick is one night followed by a policecar, they stop in front of him and demand he gets off his bike. He is searched and checked for arms. They want to see his passport but he doesn't have it (with him). He shows a train-reduction-abonnement, but this is of no avail. Without any reason given, no clarification, no warrant or anything alike, he is held. Arbitrarily that is. He has to lock his bike and get in to the policecar. On the way to the station he overhears the two officers talking: they think he has a resemblance to someone who just held up a restaurant. That is to say, he is also wearing jeans and a similar coat. Patrick is first checked in the computer at the central police station, for his name and other personal information. It shows that he is a refugee whose procedure has finished and who has been held for three months in the border-prison, on his entry of the country. From there he was dumped on the street. Patrick wants to call his lawyer and his girlfriend but isn't allowed to. The officers even take him to the owner of the restaurant for a witness-confrontation. This can not just be done with someone (an arbitrarily suspect picked on appearance) who is not arrested. The owner of the restaurant doesn't recognize Patrick as the perpetrator. The officers then apologize and take Patrick back to where he was picked up. Patrick unlocks his bike and goes away.

On the 27th of july '94, Ali is enjoying the beautiful weather on a little isle in the water of Voorhof-Polder in Oegstgeest. At half past one two officers approach him. They ask for his passport. Ali says that he doesn't have it on him and that it is at his house. The officers contact the foreigners police of Leiderdorp through the radio. They want to know if he is registered there and if he has a residence permit. The foreigners police react by stating that Ali has been registered there for ten years. One of the officers says to the other that everything is in order and Ali can go home now. The other refuses and claims Ali has to go with them to Katwijk. Ali's moped is taken along in the car. The officer who thought Ali could go home, thinks Ali should wait in the station. The other officer wants Ali to wait in a cell. Ali is put in a cell from 14.30 until 15.30, and has to answer questions by the police from 15.30 until 17.40. The police refuse to get a translator and therefor Ali refuses to sign the statement. They force him to do so. After this they tell him that now he can go back to the isle in Voorhof-Polder, if he wants to.

Chris arrives in march 1994 by ship in the harbour of Rotterdam. He wants to apply for asylum and reports to the central police station. There they send him away. He decides to try it again in Amsterdam. On his second day in the Netherlands, he is stopped in the centre of Amsterdam on the Dam-square, by two uniformed officers who ask him for his papers. He doesn't have them but he takes the opportunity to apply for asylum. According to the officers that is not possible, but they are more than willing to take him to the station. After a few days he is transferred to the prison for illegal foreigners in Nieuwersluis. Two months later he is transferred to the border-prison. After nearly four months of detention, he is put on the street and told to leave the country immediately, an impossible task without money or papers.

At the end of '94 Chris drives in a car with three black friends. A policecar drives up to them and forces them to stop. The officer claims that the car doesn't have insurance, but the occupant think they are also stopped because there are four black people in the car. Two of them, who are also illegal, jump out of the car and make a run for it. Chris stays in the car because he thinks he will not be arrested again, so shortly after his release. A painful mistake, as he soon discovers. They are asked for their identity papers. The driver can show them. Chris doesn't have them and shows the papers of his previous arrest and dumping. They neglect these however. Again he is taken, after more then a week of different police-cells, to a prison for illegals, the Willem II. This time he is dumped after a month on Tilburg station, with a trainticket in direction Amsterdam and the order to leave the Netherlands within a few days.

In february '95 Chris is stopped for the third time. Five uniformed officers hold a raid in a house in the Bijlmer in Amsterdam, where Chris and somebody else are at that moment. The officers say they are from the foreigners police and are looking for illegal foreigners whose procedures have ended. They search the whole house. Chris had been hiding in the shower, but is found. Both persons feel heavily intimidated, the officers make remarks like: 'we don't need people like you around here'. Chris and the other person are taken because they don't have identity-papers. Chris shows his papers of previous arrests and dumpings, but it is in vain. At the station they are asked if they have money for a lawyer, which they don't. The two are in a policecell for seven days, without a lawyer. This is awkward because everyone is entitled to a lawyer after six hours, without costs. The police claim they will be deported, although they can not say anything about it. Chris is transferred to a prison for illegal foreigners. End of march '95 he is released. Of the year he is in the Netherlands he has spent nine moths in prison, because he doesn't have any papers. Larry from Liberia is arrested at a razzia in a Turkish sewingshop in Amsterdam. He is working there on another name and somebody else's social-fiscal number. A team of eight to ten controlling officers, of which three uniformed policemen, the others in plain clothes, with three to four policecars, come in to the sewingshop and check for identity and passport. They don't show any identification, nor do they explain why they have this action. They immediately start to check person to person. Larry is of the impression that the staff and some of the employees knew of the check because there are so few people working that day. Numerous employees are checked for identity, arrested and taken. The shop pays every two weeks. Larry had been working there for nearly two weeks and loses his wage and his freedom in one stroke. He disappears in to detention of foreigners. The next six months he spends in a prison for illegals. He is difficult to expulse and dumped on the street.

Melvin is learning how to ride a bike in october '93 in The Hague. This process of learning and attempt to integrate (since riding a bike is typically Dutch) will cost him dearly. He is stopped because he is riding in the wrong direction. 'You are riding a bike for women' and 'You can't ride at all' is what the officer says. Melvin has to show his identity-paper, but doesn't have one. He is put in a policecell for two days after he is registered in the computer and then dumped on the street.

Ahmed is stopped by the police when distributing advertpapers and is asked for his identity-papers. He can not show them, but is lucky, the police let him go.

Pierre, a refugee from Ruanda, is travelling by ship from Burundi to Poland, from Poland he goes to the Netherlands. He reports to the police with a British passport from somebody else. The commanding officer tells him he has three months to find work. He goes looking for a job and goes to a jobcentre called Tempo-team. This agency requires a bankcard for payment. Pierre opens an account. The bank in Assen asks for identity-papers and find out that the passport shown isn't his own. He is taken in to an office and the collected by the police. At the police station Pierre is held in a cell for nine days, after which he is placed in a house of detention (HvB) Zwolle. After one month and a week he is transferred, as punishment, to the prison in Veenhuizen, after which he is released and sent to Reception Centre (O.C.) Schalkhaar. There he awaits his asylumprocedure until he is arrested, in May '95, together with other refugees because their procedure has ended. Pierre is held for five months in HvB Nieuwersluis. In october'95 he is transferred to the border-prison in Amsterdam South-East. November '95 he is handcuffed and presented to the Nigerian embassy. Pierre is from Ruanda, the embassy doesn't acknowledge him as a Nigerian. After one and a half month in the border-prison he is dumped on the street. Pierre goes to a friend in a ROA-house in Assen. The police raid the house in search of a person and then also take the three other visitors. Pierre is again held for illegal residence. His previous experiences in prison, the registrations in the computer and showing a British driving-licence don't help. He is in a policecell for a weekend. The person that was wanted is released without a trial after a month, although he has been accused of a crime in connection with bankfraud. The other visitor is married to a Dutch citizen and released immediately.

Brian is travelling by subway, for once without a ticket. He is not the only one in the train without a ticket, the others are white though. Brian is the only one that has to identify himself. He is taken because he doesn't have any papers. After a check at the station, which showed that he had been dumped from the border-prison, he is released.