EU Court OK’s Prison for Asylum-Seeking Thief

     (CN) – A petty criminal who has repeatedly sought asylum in the Netherlands can be jailed on public safety grounds despite his most recent asylum application, the European Court of Justice ruled Monday.
     An individual identified in court papers as J.N. first applied for asylum in the Netherlands in 1995. Despite Dutch authorities rejecting his application the following year, J.N. sought asylum again in 2012 and 2013.
     Dutch authorities again rejected J.N.’s applications, and in 2014 also banned him from entering the Netherlands for 10 years.
     Between 1999 and 2015, J.N. was convicted 21 times, largely for theft, and his sentences ranged from fines to imprisonment. In 2015, the man was again arrested on charges of theft and violating the entry ban and was sentenced to prison again – where he made his fourth application for asylum.
     On appeal, the Dutch government asked the European Court of Justice whether recent case-law in the European Court of Human Rights meshed with an EU law that allows asylum seekers to be detained when national security or public order requires it.
     In an expedited preliminary ruling, the EU high court said Monday that the protection of national security and public order also involves the constitutional rights and freedoms of others, and that EU lawmakers struck the right balance between the protection of citizens and the rights of asylum seekers with the detention provision.
     Furthermore, the Luxembourg-based court found that “public security” as defined by the EU law includes both the internal and external security of member states.
     As for Dutch law, which says that a new asylum application voids a prior entry ban and restarts asylum proceedings, the high court ruled the inevitable delay in J.N.’s removal to his home nation did not align with the EU law’s requirement that deportation occur as quickly as possible out of respect for J.N.’s personal rights.
     Additionally, the high court found that the EU law permitting detention of asylum seekers on public safety grounds does not run afoul of European Court of Human Rights case-law, which allows such detention in cases where deportation is being considered.
     The court’s preliminary ruling was not made available in English.

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