Refuse to carry out razzias
3 October 2006 – The municipality must
refuse to hunt down undocumented residents and if necessary resort
to civil disobedience. Jelle Houtsma, member of the Centrum district
council for the Social Democrat PvdA, said so in response to Minister
Rita Verdonk’s plan to give a financial reward to police corpses
if they arrest a sufficient number of undocumented residents.
has contacted his fellow PvdA-members in the city council, who still
have to determine their position. Council member Daniel Sajet said
that he is investigating the issue.
According to their performance contract, police corpses will have
to put 11.883 undocumented residents in jail next year. This amounts
to five to ten percent of the estimated number of undocumented residents
in the Netherlands. The contract will probably lead to innocent
people, including families with children, being jailed.
Reportedly, the agreement on undocumented residents was included
in the contract at the urging of Minister Rita Verdonk. Initially
she denied a report in the Trouw newspaper about the agreement.
Today, however, she has admitted that the agreement has been made,
the ANP news agency reports.
Houtsma says that the idea of financially rewarding the hunt after
undocumented residents makes him sick. He says that he is shocked
that there was hardly any response to the plan in the Netherlands,
also within the PvdA and other parties.
Foreign media seem to be more interested in the issue than their
Dutch colleagues. Houtsma says that the BBC and the French newspaper
Libération would have contacted sources in the Netherlands
about the issue.
In the Netherlands, the editor in chief of a television programme
on history, Ad van Liempt, has compared the performance contract
to the prize that was awarded for the arrest of Jews during the
Second World War. He acknowledges that the circumstances are different,
but “it is still bloody tasteless, not to say perverted to
use a financial incentive as a policy tool for reducing the number
of undocumented residents in the Netherlands”.
To Business News Radio, Mayor Job Cohen denied categorically that
the performance contract will lead to a hunt after undocumented
residents. According to the mayor, the police are focussed on criminals.
However, it is possible that they will encounter innocent undocumented
residents during the course of their inspections.
These remarks remind one of the massive police actions carried
out in 2002. According to the police, these raids where aimed at
‘robbers’ dens’. Cohen said at the time: “We
are not focussed on undocumented residents, but on criminals”.
However, the people who were arrested were deported without seeing
Rens den Hollander of the Autonoom Centrum responded in the Parool:
“Families were involved. Where they all criminals? Is a prostitute
a criminal? No judge was involved. Where is the evidence that these
were criminals? An undocumented resident who is a criminal must
be brought to justice. And then maybe he can be deported”.
In hindsight, one cannot but conclude that the label ‘criminal’
was used opportunistically to justify the raids.
Houtsma says that he recently had dinner with an undocumented family
that has been living in the Netherlands for eleven years. The daughters
are ‘simply Amsterdam girls with a heavy Amsterdam accent’.
Some time ago, four police vans showed up unexpectedly at their
house, at a moment when they happened not to be home. Ever since,
they have been living in fear. Because of the performance contract,
the “pressure, the insecurity and the fear only increase”,
The left-wing city government should have the political courage
not to accept this development, Houtsma thinks. After all, it also
showed such courage when the national government wanted to privatise
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