Alternatives to detention



Dutch Council for Refugees

Aliens’ detention is supposed to be a matter of last resort. This is also laid down in policy rules.1 Consequently, one alternative to detention is the limitation of freedom based on Article 56 of the Aliens Act. This includes reporting duties and restriction of freedom of movement, for instance within the borders of one specific municipality.

Other alternatives to aliens’ detention, such as giving a financial guarantee, are rarely used, which has been criticized multiple times. For instance, ACVZ (Adviescommissie in Vreemdelingenzaken) has noted that there is no explicit legal ground stating the circumstances in which an alien cannot be put in detention.2 Amnesty International has also argued that that there should be a legal obligation imposed on the decision-making authorities to proactively consider alternatives to detention.3 Previously, however, there have been pilots on alternatives to aliens’ detention.4

The Decree relating to the Bill regarding return and detention of aliens, which is supposed to enter into force in the first quarter of 2017, now specifies the circumstances in which alternatives to detention can be applied.5

  • 1. Paragraph A5/1 of the Aliens Circular.
  • 2. ACVZ, Aliens’ detention or a less intrusive measure? (May 2013) available at
  • 3. Amnesty International, Remarks to the Bill regarding return and detention of aliens (online consultation) (February 2014) accessible at See also: Amnesty International, Detention of aliens in the Netherlands: human rights as a standard (2013).
  • 4. See
  • 5. See

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti