The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has reviewed thousands of files of Syrians residing in the Netherlands. The vetting resulted in the revocation of residency of dozens of refugees for their involvement in a variety of crimes amounting for some to war crimes, showing the Netherlands’ resolve to pursue and prosecute those guilty of committing crimes against humanity.
The Ministry of Justice has requested the investigation, with dozens of suspects between the ages of 17 and 35 being monitored and interrogated by immigration authorities. More than 12 thousand files were vetted, 63 of which were suspected of involvement in war crimes and other serious violations.
Somar Shaaban, a consultant in Almere municipality, said that every year the Dutch government monitors the security and living conditions in Syria using the reports issued by the UN. The IND has used these reports in its policy to give Syrians a five-year temporary residence, on the condition that the refugee learns the language and passes the integration courses within three years of their arrival in the Netherlands. While the security situation in Syria remains the same, their residency is extended indefinitely, which allows the refugees to apply for Dutch citizenship.
During the evaluation of some files, the investigators discovered that a number of Syrians were involved in fraud, while some were classified as “disrupting the national security”, which may indicate espionage or terrorism, however, the authorities did not reveal the nature of these violations, as they are considered as sensitive and highly classified files.
The Dutch Immigration Service considers that cancelling the asylum status of some persons is stipulated in the United Nations Refugee Convention, which affirms that asylum seekers suspected of ties to war crimes and other serious crimes are not entitled to protection.
Shaaban believes that the responsibility for holding war criminals accountable lies with the Dutch judicial authorities. However, according to him, the greater responsibility falls on the Syrians residing in Europe, who, by revealing and reporting any Syrian resident who had a hand in violating the rights of Syrians, whether individually or as part of a military organization or militia, can help the authorities to track and prosecute them. He stressed the need to provide evidence when reporting on someone, such as photos, videos, and testimonies of eyewitnesses that may help in the investigations.
Shaaban finally called on everyone who has such information about war criminals to present it without any fear of repercussions on their residency. They can contact the Syria Legal Network in the Netherlands, via this email: [email protected]
Or by contacting the International Crime Unit via the following contact details:
Tel +31 88 6625743
Postbus 100, 3970 AC Driebergen, the Netherlands.
Zaman Al Wasl