After being closed temporarily because of the corona measures, all courts in the Netherlands have been open again since Monday 11 May. This means that the IND is also be present at hearings again. The IND is responsible for legally representing the IND and other organisations cooperating in the immigration system in appeal procedures at the district court, Council of State and international courts.
Legal representative Jean Paul Guérain was, for instance, at a hearing at the District Court of Rotterdam on Tuesday 19 May. Guérain: 'In the past two months, many cases were handled in writing or via Skype. In principle, urgent cases are now being prioritised by the court, focusing on criminal cases and family law.'
Guérain: 'Today's hearing was about a case which had also been heard in December, but which was postponed because there were still some untranslated documents in the file. I had already replied to this in writing. However, the lawyer still wanted the case to be heard by a judge. This has now been done. It was a complex case which took longer than usual. The judge had a lot of questions.'
Guérain is pleased that the hearings can go on and that he can argue in court again. 'It was good to be in court again after two months. The lawyer and I discussed that this felt better than using Skype. This way you get to see everyone involved, which brings the case to life. In the past period I missed the dynamics of an office or court. To me personally, arguing in court is the best part of my job. It is also better for the foreign national: after all, I am the 'face' of the minister for migration in these situations, and this way he gets to see a person.
Yet, the hearing was still a little different from normal hearings because of the corona measures: 'I had to enter first and sit left on behalf of the minister,' Guérain says. 'Normally, the foreign national and his lawyer enter first. Furthermore, the hearing was in a meeting room near the court cafeteria, where special rooms have been furnished with screens. The lawyer was at a distance from me, with a screen between us. The registrar and judge were also separated by a screen, as well as the lawyer and foreign national. Also different from normal: there was no audience at the hearing. Now we have to wait until the court's decision in this case. It will be given later....'