The Dutch immigration minister has stepped down following outcry over a government migrant crime report which hid serious migrant crimes including rape and murder under the category of “other”.
Resigning from his position on Tuesday, Mark Harbers stressed that no “deliberate concealment” of the figures had taken place, but said he took “full responsibility” for having “misinformed” the Dutch Parliament with regards to the report.
The Ministry of Justice document, which recorded crimes in which asylum seekers were the suspects, listed the number of various misdemeanours, such as shoplifting and pickpocketing, while failing to identify much more serious offences like murder, child abuse, and rape — which were simply lumped together under the heading “other”.
According to the Telegraaf, which revealed the omissions last week, this category covered around 1,000 cases including 79 alleged sexual offences, 51 serious assaults, and 31 cases of attempted murder or manslaughter.
The statistics showed asylum seekers from safe countries such as Morocco and Algeria were suspects in almost half of the 4,600 incidents recorded in the report, which was released in the name of “full transparency”, according to Harbers, who had said that “only by providing [such] insight can there be support for the reception of refugees”.
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Harbers’ departure came after there was serious criticism of the report in the press and from politicians including the populist Freedom Party leader, Geert Wilders, who described the Justice Ministry of having acted like “a mafia gang” in how they presented the figures.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte posted on social media to express sadness over the resignation, tweeting: “Politics can be tough. Respect for State Secretary Harbers’ decision to resign… But it is incredibly unfortunate that the cabinet must say goodbye to such a talented and committed liberal.”
The resignation was described in local media as a “heavy blow” to the ruling VVD party, which already this year faced a major setback when the Eurosceptic, anti-mass immigration Forum for Democracy party went from zero seats to becoming the largest force in the Dutch senate at provincial elections in March.
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