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Corien Jonker : "Assisted voluntary return programmes offer a mutually beneficial alternative to forced return of migrants"

On 26 and 27 March, PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population organised a hearing in on forced return of, and assisted voluntary return programmes, for irregular migrants, with a particular focus on the situation in the .


During the first part of the hearing, the members of the Committee heard interventions by all the Dutch parties involved and visited a detention centre for irregular migrants who are awaiting deportation. The second part of the hearing was devoted to the topic of assisted voluntary return programmes, including presentations by the Dutch Ministry of Justice, the International Organization for Migration and the Dutch Refugee Council (NGO).

The Chair of the Committee, Corien Jonker (, EPP/CD), concluded that assisted voluntary return programmes offer a mutually beneficial alternative to forced return of migrants. Mrs Jonker said that “Migrants who participate in these programmes are treated with dignity and are given valuable assistance and advice concerning economic and social aspects of reintegration in their home countries. Assisted voluntary return programmes are less costly for the host country when compared with systems of detention and deportation. The programmes also often contribute to improved relations between the host country and the country of origin and this makes voluntary returns a better option for all concerned.“

Mrs Jonker recalled that states’ action in terms of forced returns should always be guided by the most important benchmark in on this issue, namely the Council of Europe’s 20 Guidelines on forced returns. She also reiterated that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe supports voluntary return and called on Council of Europe member states to make greater use of assisted voluntary return programmes. The Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population is currently preparing a report on the matter.