An asylum request can be declared manifestly unfounded in case the asylum seeker is from a safe country of origin. Applicants presumed to come from safe countries of origin are also channelled under the Accelerated Procedure (“Track 2”) by the IND.
The statements of the asylum seeker form the basis for the assessment whether a country that has been designated as a safe country of origin is safe for the individual asylum seeker. The IND considers whether the particular country complies with its obligations under the relevant human rights treaties in practice. The IND cannot maintain the presumption of safe country of origin if the asylum seeker can demonstrate that his or her country of origin cannot be regarded as a safe country for him or her. In that case the IND assesses whether the asylum seeker is eligible for international protection.
It is possible for an asylum seeker to switch from Track 2 to Track 4. For example when during the Track 2 procedure it becomes clear that the asylum seeker might have a well-founded fear for persecution because of his or her sexual orientation, this needs to be assessed thoroughly by the IND in Track 4. Alternatively, this can also occur when for example there is ample medical evidence which demonstrates that the asylum seeker is vulnerable and needs special procedural guarantees.
List of safe countries of origin
Anticipating an EU list of safe countries of origin, the Secretary of State communicated at the end of 2015 his intention to draft a national list of safe countries of origin. As provided in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive and Article 3.105ba of the Aliens Decree, this national list was annexed to the Aliens Regulation. The list contains countries where, according to the Dutch government, nationals are under no risk of persecution, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
The following countries are as safe countries of origin as of the end of 2018. This list is still being applied in 2020.
v EU Member States and Schengen Associated States
v The republic of North Macedonia
v San Marino
v Vatican City
v New Zealand
v Trinidad and Tobago
In December 2018, the Secretary of Justice has reassessed the situation in Togo. Togo, which will be suspended as a safe country of origin during further (re)assessment of the security situation of the country in 2019. In September 2019 Serbia has been reassessed and it will remain a safe country of origin except for those who risk criminal detention, and special attention is needed for LGBT asylum seekers.
At the request of the Council of State, the Advocate General has drafted a conclusion concerning (the application of) the concept of safe country of origin in 2016. The Advocate General concluded that a country cannot be considered as a safe country if there is a systematic risk of persecution or inhumane treatment for pre-identified minority groups, such as LGBTI persons or women. The State Secretary can, however, designate a country as a safe country and specify that they are some applicable exceptions (e.g. minority groups, such as LGBT persons and women). Likewise, the State Secretary can designate a country as safe, even if there is a small unsafe region, provided that the division between the safe and unsafe parts of the country are clearly identifiable. While the State Secretary is responsible for determining if a country can be regarded as safe or not, the asylum seeker must demonstrate himself/herself why his/her personal situation is unsafe in a given country.
In 2018 the Secretary of State confirmed that some groups are ‘a group of higher concern’ (mainly LGBT persons and persons originating from specific regions/areas). In practice, the burden of proof for individuals belonging to certain groups is to their advantage. However, there is still a presumption that the countries are safe, even for ‘groups of higher concern. The Council of State also considers this to be in line with the recast Asylum Procedures Directive.
Since the end of 2015, the Regional Courts have ruled in many cases concerning the question whether the abovementioned countries have been rightly designated as safe countries of origin. Most of these judgments concern the question whether the Secretary of State has, while referring to the required sources, sufficiently substantiated that the country can be considered to be a safe country of origin. Some Regional Courts have ruled that the designation of Mongolia, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as safe countries of origin has not been well motivated by the Secretary of State. The Council of State has ruled that these countries can be considered as safe countries of origin on the basis that they meet the statutory requirements.
In 2019, Morocco (1,062) and Algeria (1,211), were among the top ten nationalities of first-time asylum seekers in the Netherlands. In 2018, Albania dropped out of the list of the top ten nationalities, since 2017.
Article 30b(1)(b) Aliens Act.
Paragraph C2/7.2 Aliens Circular.
KST 19637, 3 November 2015, No 2076.
KST 19637, 9 February 2016, No 2123; KST 19637, 11 October 2016, No 2241; KST 19637, 25 April 2017, No. 2314. The latest amendment added Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.
KST 19637, No 2448, 7 December 2018, Herbeoordeling veilige landen van herkomst vierde en vijfde tranche, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/2HTakJw.
Council of State, Conclusions of the Advocate General, 201603036/3, 20 July 2016.
For example see: Council of State, Decision No 201606592/1, 1 February 2017; Council of State, Decision No 20174170/1, 22 December 2017 and Council of State, Decision No 201700276/1, 8 March 2017.
Regional Court Roermond, Decision No 16.1759, 9 August 2016 (Mongolia); Regional Court Groningen, Decision No 16/27140, 19 December 2016 (Algeria); Regional Court Den Bosch, Decision No 17/4539, 29 March 2017 (Tunisia). The Council of State has asked questions to the Secretary of State about Morocco: Decision No 201606592/1, 17 December 2016.
Council of State, 201702914/1, 20 October 2017 (Tunisia): Tunisia can be considered as a safe country of origin except for asylum seekers with a LGBTI background; Council of State, 201701147/1, 13 September 2017 (Mongolia); Council of State, 201700680/1, 31 July 2017 and 20172056/1, 24 May 2017 and 201609909/1, 13 April 2017 (Algeria); Council of State, 201609929/1, 6 April 2017 (Morocco).
IND, Asylum Trends, December 2017.