The European Committee of Social Rights has delivered a decision in favour of the Conference of European Churches in its complaint against the Netherlands. In early 2013, CEC asked the Committee to find that the right of undocumented adult migrants to food, clothing, and shelter has not been respected, in violation of the European Social Charter. While the Netherlands ratified the Charter and its subsequent revision, it asked the Committee to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that foreigners staying within its territories in an irregular manner fall outside the scope of application of the Charter.
In a twenty-three page decision delivered on 10 November 2014, the Committee unanimously agreed that the Netherlands was in violation of Article 13§4 and Article 31§2 of the European Social Charter. These sections detail rights to social and medical assistance, and the right to housing, respectively.
Citing relevant international materials, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Committee concluded that “When human dignity is at stake, the restriction of the personal scope should not be read in such a way as to deprive migrants in an irregular situation of the protection of their most basic rights.”
CEC General Secretary, the Rev. Dr.Guy Liagre, welcomed the Committee’s decision, “We are pleased with the preliminary outcome of this complaint and what it signals for marginalised people. CEC is hopeful that this decision will contribute to the wellbeing of failed asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants in the Netherlands and beyond.” Liagre also affirmed the spirit of the decision, which restated the Charter’s role in protecting human rights not only theoretically, but also in fact.
CEC General Secretariat
Phone: +41 22 791 6228
Fax: +41 22 791 627
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.www.ceceurope.org
The Church and Society Commission of CEC links member churches, national council of churches and organisations in partnership of CEC with the European Union’s institutions, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, NATO and the UN (on European matters). Its task is to help the churches study church and society questions from a theological and social-ethical perspective, especially those with a European dimension, and to represent common positions of the member churches in their relations with political institutions working in Europe.