Deportation: why does it fail so often?

An asylum seeker whose application has been denied at the final appeal must return to his home country. The Return and Departure Service (DT&V) organizes this process, but often unsuccessfully. The Government had a flash of inspiration to remedy this unsatisfactory situation: If we cannot deport them, then they must deport themselves. They are cast out onto the streets with a bus ticket and an order to leave the country. But often they don't. Why don't they leave? Simple: because they cannot. But why can't they leave?

Because their country won't accept them
Iraq and Iran only allow their subjects to return if this is voluntary. Subjects who return unwillingly, perhaps because they fear persecution but also when they expect a miserable life, are not allowed to come in. Other countries consider an asylum application in a foreign land as a 'hostile act against the nation'. When they return, asylum seekers run the risk of being detained, abused and tortured, just for having asked for refugee status elsewhere. Examples of this are Eritrea, Sudan and China (especially for Uygurs and Tibetans). Other countries fail to cooperate with the issuance of travel documents for their subjects. Ethiopia, China, Mauretania, Yemen, Mali, and Guinea rarely if ever issue a laissez passer to allow return. Even those who actually want to return to their country of origin cannot return in those cases.
The Dutch Aliens Act has a 'not-your-fault' provision, allowing these asylum seekers to obtain permission to stay in the Netherlands. But Government policy sets the condition that the person involved shows proof that he/she has been trying for 2 years or more to return. On the streets, there is little opportunity or possibility of working towards a successful return, so this provision rarely benefits refugees.

Because they are in danger in their home countries
Chaos and war are all too common in many parts of the world: Eastern Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and Somalia are examples. Until recently, refugees could not be deported to the latter country, but Justice Minister Teeven recently declared Somalia safe for forced return. Amnesty International, VluchtelingenWerk Nederland (RefugeeAid), the UNHCR, and Human Right Watch have objected to this; Somalian refugees themselves also deem the local situation unsafe and fear for their security if they go back.
A return to Afghanistan or Iraq also leads to an uncertain security situation for many asylum seekers. People who have spent time in Europe are often seen as suspect or westernized.  Islamist organizations, often linked to Al Qaeda or the Taliban, are attempting to 'purify' their countries of western influence and influences. Returning asylum seekers often attract unwanted attention from these organizations.
Westernized women attract particular attention in these countries. They run the risk of being raped, abused, detained or kidnapped if they do not conform to strict local islamist rules.
Women who have fled after rape or to escape a forced marriage are deemed 'impure' or 'haram' and run a big risk of becoming victims of honor killings or other types of violence after their return.
Homosexuals and Trans-genders are in mortal danger in many countries. Many homosexuals fear to speak directly about their sexual preference when they file for refugee status, and initially tell a false story about their grounds for asylum. When they change their story at a later date, this is often taken as a convenient lie by the Dutch Immigration Service.

Because they are stateless
Due to disagreements about international borders and the recognition of certain states and ethnic groups, some asylum seekers have no nationality. For example, ethnically Nepalase Bhutanians are no longer recognized as citizens of Bhutan and many people from formerly warring Eritrea and Ethopia are recognized by neither country. Those who have fled the Nagorno-Karabach enclave are recognized by neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia, as are ethic Armenians who fled the then-Soviet republic Azerbaijan. Such issues can also arise as the consequence of a mixed marriage or for the children of such a marriage.

Return is not an option
For all these asylum seekers, return is not an option. After their application is denied at the final appeal they join the steadily increasing group of denied asylum seekers who stay in the Netherlands because they cannot return, or who fear it.
Many Dutch people feel that if asylum seekers managed to make it to Western Europe without documents, they can make it back too. We would like to point out that many asylum seekers die in small boats or shipping containers on their way to claiming asylum in a safe country. Other asylum seekers become victims of human trafficking, forced prostitution, abuse or rape while on their way here. We cannot ask people to make the return journey in the same conditions while on their way to a country they deem unsafe.

Legalize the undeportable!
Every year an average of 6,000 asylum seekers end up on the streets. They cannot stay in the Netherlands, but many of them cannot leave either. Condemned to an existence as an illegal alien, they are constantly at risk of being arrested or jailed in prisons for aliens. They often spend months in detention under difficult or even inhumane conditions after which (if the Immigration Service has not been able to deport them) they end up back on the streets again. The high number of suicides amongst asylum seekers who have been crushed by the Dutch asylum procedure reveals the desperation they are driven to.

The time has come to end the disappearance trick that this country pulls on asylum seekers. Those the Government cannot expel usually cannot make it back themselves. Rather than closing our eyes to their existence, their situation should be re-evaluated with care and attention. Those who cannot be expelled by the Government have a moral right to such a re-evaluation.

Actie ‘Geen vluchteling op straat of in de cel’ op 23 maart 2013 georganiseerd door vluchtelingen uit de ‘Vluchtkerk’ in Amsterdam en het ‘Vluchthuis’ in Den Haag samen met ondersteunende organisaties.