Broekers-Knol admits: forcing five municipalities to emergency shelter could not

There was no legal basis for forcing five municipalities to set up emergency shelter for asylum seekers. This is what the Secretary of State for Justice and Security Ankie Broekers-Knol canceled today writes in response to parliamentary questions by Pieter Omtzigt.

In December, Alkmaar, Enschede, Gorinchem, Venray and the Rotterdam region of the Empire were told that they had to provide emergency shelter for asylum seekers. Broekers-Knol then used the term designation for this, which gave the impression that the national government had a legal authority to force the municipalities to shelter.

Alkmaar then announced that it would find out whether the designation could be challenged legally. Other municipalities also denounced the course of action of the Empire. Constitutional scholars immediately questioned whether the Government could legally oblige reception.

Now Broekers-Knol writes that a legal basis was indeed missing: โ€œIt is not a legal direction and therefore the letters have no legal effect on the public law.โ€

According to Broekers-Knol, โ€œthe use of the term designation is motivated by the acute emergency situation that occurred, partly in view of the international law obligations to which the Netherlands has committed itself.โ€ It refers, among other things, to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention. It regulates, for example, under which circumstances asylum seekers should be taken care of.

Due to an influx of asylum seekers, including from Afghanistan, at least 2000 additional shelters were needed in December. According to Broekers-Knol, it was not possible to find enough locations in municipalities on a voluntary basis. โ€œThis created the unacceptable risk that the Dutch state could no longer offer asylum seekers worthy reception facilities.โ€

Broekers-Knol now describes her decision as โ€œurgent administrative requestโ€. That was โ€œnot a means to which the cabinet has passed lightlyโ€.

New coalition agreement

During a debate on the justice budget in the Senate on 21 December, Senator Van Hattem of the PVV also asked questions about the legal basis of the decision. Among other things, he asked what means of power the Empire had to force refusing municipalities to cooperate anyway.

Broekers-Knol replied: โ€œThe Empire has an extensive range of legal instruments to provide, if necessary, to do so.โ€ In her answers to Omtzigt Parliamentary Questions, Broekers-Knol does not go further into that.

The coalition agreement of the Rutte IV cabinet, which took place today, states that โ€œthe cabinet will, taking into account local autonomy and appropriate safeguards, make use of the possibility of giving an indication to the fellow governmentsโ€, should this be necessary in the public interest. In her answer to Omtzigt, Broekers-Knol does not want to address the question of what the new cabinet intends to do so.