Detention of vulnerable applicants



Dutch Council for Refugees

In principle no group of vulnerable aliens is automatically and per se excluded from detention. According to Amnesty International and Stichting LOS, a Dutch NGO working with undocumented migrants, vulnerable aliens sometimes end up in detention because there are no legal safeguards with regard to specific groups of vulnerable aliens.1 However, families with minor children and unaccompanied minors are in principle not detained. A policy with regard to the exclusion of other categories of vulnerable aliens to detention has not been adapted.

Families with minors and unaccompanied minors who enter the Netherlands at an external border are redirected to the application centre in Ter Apel. Detention of children at the border is only possible when doubt has risen regarding the minority of the child.2 Exceptions in the context of territorial detention are made for unaccompanied minors that are suspected of or convicted for a crime, that have left the reception centre or that have not abided by a duty to report or a freedom restrictive measure. It is also possible to detain unaccompanied minors when there is a prospect of removing the minor within 14 days.3 Detention of families with minors is possible when the conditions of Articles 5.1a and 5.1b of the Aliens Decree are fulfilled for all family members. In addition, it must be clear that at least one of the family members is not cooperating in the return procedure.4 Defence for Children strongly opposes detention of children on these grounds and in general.5 In 2016 about 80 minors were placed in detention for migrants, of which about 10 children were unaccompanied minors.6 These children (and their families) are detained at the closed family location in Zeist.

  • 1. Amnesty International, Dokters van de Wereld, Stichting Landelijk Ongedocumenteerden Steunpunt, Report Vulnerable people in detention (April 2016) accessible at
  • 2. Paragraph A5/3.2 Aliens Circular. See also paragraph A1/7.3 Aliens Circular.
  • 3. Paragraph A5/2.1 Aliens Circular.
  • 4. Paragraph A5/2.1 Aliens Circular.
  • 5. See
  • 6. 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