De Telegraaf reveals attempts by the Ministry of Justice and Safety to obfuscate the amount of crime committed by asylum seekers. In an article published on 16 May, the paper writes that despite promises of openness, the Ministry has attempted to hide serious crimes by misnaming them ‘other incidents’. Those ‘other incidents’ include rape cases and child abuse.

This deliberate attempt at misleading the public comes after De Telegraaf had to resort to legal steps in 2017 to get data on crimes committed by asylum seekers. Then, the Ministry denied keeping a separate registration, claiming it had no figures to release. In reality, the police kept statistics, with De Telegraaf claiming the sheer volume of the files kept the authorities from releasing the information.

In what the paper dubs a ‘painful affair’, two years later the Ministry is up to its old tricks again. The aim is yet again to obscure: it is the Ministry that grouped a 1000 ‘other crimes’, and yet again De Telegraaf had to resort to police sources to fill in the deliberate blanks.

Of the 1000 ‘others’, 79 were sexual offences, ranging from sexual assault, to sexual abuse of children, to rape, to possession of child pornography. Police were called for 51 cases of battery, 31 cases of murder or manslaughter. There were 5 counts of kidnap or hostage taking, 4 times it was for human trafficking, and 73 times there was a disturbance of the peace.

The Ministry, meanwhile, professes its innocence. A spokesperson blames the police for not giving exact enough data. But the fact that the police has the information, implies that the Ministry could have demanded the information, according to Jasper van Dijk, MP. He concludes that

“it is remarkable that the Ministry didn’t report this [want of information], this is a lack of transparency. We need to know what we are debating.”

The 1000 ‘other’ crimes paint a less than sterling picture of the situation in and around asylum locations. In total, the police registered 4600 crimes committed by asylum seekers in 2018. Shoplifting (2030 cases) was popular, followed by pickpocketing, stealing purses, physical abuse and making threats.

Most perpetrators are from so-called ‘safe countries‘ like Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. There is little chance they will be given a permit, but they are difficult to expel. They do form the supposedly ‘small group’ that causes much of the trouble. According to the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), 2018 saw an increase of ‘incidents’. It counted 13.350 incidents, up from 11.820 in 2017. Most were breaking of the house rules (7460), but the reports of “an aggressive attitude” increased by 50%.

From the report discussed by De Telegraaf, it does become clear that prosecution is rare in these cases. All registered crimes led to only 1710 appearances in court, with unclear results.

Those institutions responsible simply point at one another. The Ministry points at the police, the police at the State Prosecutor. The Prosecutor couldn’t tell, when asked, what happened with the cases that were prosecuted. It is also unclear why the process of expulsion of criminal asylum seekers is so slow and difficult. Of 45 cases in 2018 in which it was decided an asylum seeker was to leave the country, only 5 actually did.

Just so you have a visual of the demographic the Dutch are dealing with