The African Bulletin, july 2003 edition

"The Netherlands deports Nigerians"

Request for Information about Deportations
Appeal to Lawyers and Refugee (Self-Help) Organizations and Others

Intensifying of the number of deportations, European charter
deportations, gate checks at Schiphol airport, boarding checks in the
countries of origin, implementation of force. What role do KLM and other
airlines play in the deportation machine, what are the actual experiences
of refugees and their lawyers? The Autonoom Centrum is conducting a
research into this matter during the coming months. For this research we
are especially looking for more stories from and experiences of the
deportation of refugees and illegal migrants.

The world is changing shape at a very fast pace. Poor, non-western
countries are becoming more and more dependent on the rich west.
Migration is a logical consequence, the third world reaches to right
around the corner from this western 'civilization'. The answer to that is
shamefully repressive. Policies and laws to keep the refugees and migrants
at a distance by scaring them off and giving the regular citizens the idea
that migration is under control and can be controlled. That in order to
achieve this, force is being applied that would be considered inhumane to
the regular citizens seems a logical consequence of the implemented

In 2001 12,750 deportation took place through Schiphol Airport. In
2002 this grew to 14,500. Big part of the problems with deportation
is due to the unwillingness of countries of origin to cooperate with
travel documents of refused asylum seekers. Last year, the Benelux signed
agreements with these countries to accept deported citizens. The
Netherlands and Germany are supporter of a bigger role for the EU for an
effective European immigration and asylum policy.

Behind closed (European) doors, decisions are being made over the
heads of the refugees, who have no control or redress. The Ministry
of Justice has recently signed a covenant with the Ministry of
Defence to use military planes for group deportations. Military
equipment, military police escorts, no more interference by or
'nuisance' for other passengers, no more trouble from Pilots who
every once in a while refuse to fly the refugees. Apparently the
deportations need to be moved out of sight, away from the ordinary

Since 2002 charters are being used on a big scale leaving in the
middle of the night. In 2002 25 charters transported 1,404 illegal
people: 7 to Africa (Nigeria, Cameroun, DR Congo) and 15 to Eastern
Europe. For 2003 the aim is three charters a month. In Schiphol
Airport and Zestienhoven (Rotterdam Airport) two deportation centers will
be opened soon. These are closed centers for 600 people to prepare them
for a deportation on the short term.

Our research pertains to the deportation trajectory from the
transport from the migrants prison (or AZC Asylum Seekers Centre) to the
airport, up to the country to which the deportation is taking place. We
are also looking into the involvement in this of various institutions such
as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Immigration
Police/Vreemdelingen Politie and Military Police, and companies like KLM
and charter airlines. We think this trajectory is completely removing
itself from any independent inspection or control, while it is a very
sensitive link in the asylum chain, through which in practice many
migrants and refugees have been duped. The results of this research will
definitely be published.

We would like to ask for the cooperation of those directly involved
like, lawyers, refugee groups, human rights organizations and
refugees themselves. Do you know about a deportation that left
question marks, for instance about the use of violence? Are you in
touch with asylum seekers who have gone through a (failed)
deportation and have been flown back? Do you have information on
group deportations and the involvement of airlines? If so we really
want to hear your story. Please call or e-mail.

We are hoping for your cooperation and thanking you in advance.

Autonoom Centrum,
Rens den Hollander en Vincent de Jong