Dutch Asylum Minister Resigns over Accusations of Downplaying Refugee Crimes
Violent crimes committed by asylum seekers have been reported as “other” in a Dutch government document.
The Asylum Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Harbers, has resigned after a report compiled by his institution seemed to downplay crimes committed by refugees by classifying violent offenses as “other”.
As Harbers presented the report to the Parliament of the Netherlands, he quickly came under fire as the document did not explicitly mention cases of murder, rape, and sexual assault.
At the same time, however, less violent offences such as shoplifting or pickpocketing had their own categories in the report.
“I am not only responsible in terms of the law, but I feel responsible,’ Harbers said during a parliamentary discussion, offering his resignation, as cited by DutchNews.
He also sought to convince the Dutch MPs that what had been construed as downplaying of violent crimes committed by migrants was “not deliberate”.
Other categories in the document on refugee crime in the Netherlands included physical abuse and threatening behavior.
Some 1,000 incidents were classified in the report as “other”, including 31 suspected cases of murder, 4 suspected cases of rape, 79 potential cases of sex crimes, including 47 cases of sexual assault, and 5 suspected cases of child abuse, alongside a number of other violent offences.
As he resigned, the Dutch Asylum Minister said his ministry had been warned not to focus the report on the most frequent crimes by asylum seekers since that could mean the most violent offences, which are less frequent, might be neglected.
However, the respective civil servants had not taken that advice, Harbers said, adding that they were concerned the figures would lead to confusion.
The controversial government report on migrant crime in the Netherlands showed some other intriguing figures.
Most notably, the fact that almost half of the 4,600 incidents that required police intervention and were taken into account for the drafting of the document were actually connected with the so called “fake” refugees.
That is, asylum seekers coming from countries deemed to be safe, and therefore potentially not warranting the granting of asylum. Morocco and Algeria in North Africa, for example, are deemed safe.
“[It is] incredibly regrettable that the cabinet must say goodbye to such a talented and committed liberal,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted, adding that he “respected” Harbers’ decision to resign.
Rutte has been trying to tackle the perceived surge of the far right ahead of the 2019 EU elections set to be held on May 23 – 26.
(Banner image: Mark Harbers on Twitter)