The asylum procedures gradually are resumed, using videoconferencing systems. The reason for this is that the measures taken by the central government against the spread of the coronavirus prevent physically attended interviews of foreign nationals at the offices of the IND. Aly van Berckel, the IND´s General Director, broached the subject with the IND staff at Zevenaar, who are involved in the interviews by videoconference.
The interviews of foreign nationals by videoconference take place via a secure link for video conferencing. In this context, the IND is working closely with the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), the Legal Aid Board (RvR), and the Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI). The interviewed foreign national is at a distance at a COA reception centre. Via a video link, the person may speak with the IND staff members working from Zevenaar, Den Bosch, Schiphol or Ter Apel. Lawyers can use the facilities too. In this way, dozens of interviews now take place weekly.
Interviewing foreign nationals using videoconferencing systems still is in a start-up stage and applied on a limited scale. At present, the focus is on those cases qualifying for an accelerated procedure but also on additional interviews in the accelerated procedure and on application interviews of foreign nationals who recently arrived in the Netherlands. The objective is a step-by-step broader use of interviews by videoconference, allowing the asylum procedures to proceed to the extent possible, the corona crisis notwithstanding. The provision of services at the IND counters, now opened only for urgent matters, will, if possible, be extended in the period ahead. The IND, in addition to this, also examines whether offices may be adapted to allow physically attended interviews. In all steps we take, we seek a careful balance between what is safe and what is not.
General Director Aly van Berckel informed herself on Friday, May 1, also via video link, of the development videoconferencing systems. Aly van Berckel: "The coronavirus crisis touches the very core of the work of the IND, i.e. interviewing foreign nationals. We are, therefore, searching for ways to keep our work going as much as possible. Interviews by videoconference is a good example, even though we still have to get used to this new way of working. I appreciate our staff´s flexible attitude in this regard. Speaking to each other remotely, not in the same room, is not quite the same. I am also very appreciative of the concerted action with the COA, the RvR, and the DJI."
Petra Woudsma, COA location manager: "It is a good thing that our residents will be interviewed again, and things are moving forward. We are happy to cooperate. During the interviews, there is always a host with the resident. This method is new to all parties and will find its way in the coming weeks. Up to now dialling in goes well and the lines are short."
Happy with the way things are proceeding
Jo Alberts, asylum manager of the Legal Aid Board: "Videoconferencing is an effective method of communication. However, bearing in mind the backgrounds of our clients, we still prefer personal conversations. Our customers are nonetheless very pleased that the procedures are progressing. The collaboration is intense and carried out under high pressure, but we form a good team. A lot of hard work is done to connect with the lawyers at the office digitally."
See www.ind.nl/coronavirus for the answers to frequently asked questions and the latest on the services of the IND during the coronavirus crisis.