Case on interpreting of Dutch citizenship

The interpretation given by the Netherlands court system on the Kingdom Law Dutch Citizenship may be in violation of rulings by the European Court on Human Rights, writes The Daily Herald.

For this reason a group of lawyers has started a legal procedure with the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the three overseas public bodies Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (BES). The legislation sets conditions to get, keep and lose Dutch citizenship. There are no grounds outside of that and the courts do not allow space to appeal on general principles of good governance, including legal security and -confidence.

Minors can become citizens along with their foreign parents when these are naturalised, once certain requirements have been met. The governor can for example decide that the child should have an indefinite valid residence permit at the moment the parents obtain the Dutch nationality. Even if the procedure for such has been initiated, it regards the moment itself. Otherwise, the child cannot become Dutch. In theory this means that for example a youngster having resided legally in the kingdom already 16 years cannot request a Dutch passport, because they were never naturalised. Census Office head Sharin Luydens recently asked the Immigration and Naturalisation Service in the Netherlands clarity about persons in the population registry, but from whom they are to withdraw their passports because they lack the Dutch nationality.

Richie Kock of James Martin and Associates is one of the attorneys dealing with the matter and has a case in which he hopes to establish the Dutch citizenship of a minor via this route. “We base ourselves on European regulations with which the Dutch jurisprudence is in conflict.” A child after so many years should be able to trust that he or she is a citizen of the country where they live. If that’s not honoured, it contravenes the European Treaty on Human Rights, the group argue.

The national identity is seen as part of a person’s social integrity. It regards rules that respect private and family life. European Court rulings supersede those of the Netherlands. If the lawyers are proven right, this could impact some 38 running cases in Aruba alone. Kock mentioned as illustration a Filipino couple who live on the island with a baby and get citizenship through naturalisation. However, when the child turns 16 and they request a passport for it this is refused, with as reason that the teenager was never a Dutch national because at the time of naturalisation he or she did not yet have a valid residence permit.

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