DUO responds to Nieuwsuur’s questions on Ikram’s late objection.
Why does DUO apply the strict principle of exceeding the non-excusable time limit?
DUO cannot comment on this specific case. Generally speaking, we can say the following. On the one hand, a good public service benefits from clear rules of the game. We like to be predictable and avoid arbitrariness. On the other hand, there should always be room for personalization. In our reflections, we constantly balance what is legally necessary (written and unwritten rules of administrative law) and what is desirable on a personal level.
Why is DUO not inclined to regard the exceeding of the deadline as excusable?
Again, we cannot go into this specific case. See also the answer to the question above.
Does DUO rule out the possibility that postal items get lost over time, for example at PostNL, and that as a result 100% of deliveries are not always successful, leading to deadlines being exceeded?
DUO cannot totally exclude this, postal delivery is the responsibility of PostNL. Generally speaking, it can be said that PostNL is a reliable service provider. DUO is fully committed to providing good service. Before an integrator receives a decision, he or she has already received several warning letters from DUO that the end of the onboarding period is approaching. DUO also made all correspondence available to the customer digitally in Mijn Inburgering. The customer can therefore also consult his correspondence digitally.
Does DUO consider it realistic to make citizens pay for the obligation to prove non-acceptance? How does DUO see this? (In other words: how does DUO think a citizen can demonstrate that an ordinary postal item has not been received?)
DUO understands that this can be experienced as complicated for citizens. At the same time, not receiving physical mail should not lead to insurmountable problems. As noted, each customer can also preview the correspondence sent by DUO in My Integration.
Why does DUO adhere to the legal conditions?
DUO wishes to organize its public services in such a way that the proposed field of action is clear to all. Simply put: we want to play by the legal rules of the game. At the same time, the stories of individual cases sometimes require personalization. When necessary and possible, DUO tries to apply it.
Does DUO always make a decision himself within the legal deadlines? If not, why does DUO expect this perspective of action, unlike that of the citizen?
In most cases, DUO makes a timely decision. In the unlikely event that DUO does not make a decision on time, a citizen can report it to DUO. The citizen can then send a formal notice and is (possibly) entitled to a penalty.
Does DUO realize that exceeding the deadline can cause irreparable damage to citizens, so that they will never be able to challenge a DUO decision again?
DUO tries in several ways to ensure that citizens are properly informed. General information can be found on inburgeren.nl and each person integrating receives personalized reports from DUO. Below you will find an overview of DUO’s communication towards citizens subject to an integration obligation.
- Notification of civic integration obligation (for migrants seeking asylum over 2 times; at the azc address and again if the address lives outside azc);
- If there is no recorded activity (known to DUO), a reminder will follow;
- If the integrator is active, a summary letter will follow every six months with the inventory;
- Six months before the end of the civic integration period, an amended summary letter is sent in which more emphasis is placed on the end date of the civic integration period, what are the consequences and what should be /can be done ;
- 2 months before the end of the mandate, we will send another summary letter similar to the previous letter;
When the deadline is exceeded, we send the letter ‘pre-announcement deadline’. In this we say that we intend to impose a fine because the customer has not yet established himself. In this case, we give the citizen an additional 4 weeks to provide everything so that we can assess this to see if the customer is guilty or not;
We do not receive any information or is the information received considered insufficient to be guilty; then we will send the letter with the message that a fine will be imposed and the debt to DUO needs to be repaid.
The letters mentioned above are also digitally available to citizens of Mijn Inburgering. With these letters, DUO wishes to inform citizens as well as possible and prevent citizens from unexpectedly exceeding a legal deadline which ensures that the situation is (possibly) irreversible.
To what extent can the DUO approach be reconciled with “the new administrative culture” and “the human dimension”, which have been widely debated within the cabinet this year?
As mentioned, DUO must follow the written and unwritten rules of (administrative) law (see answer 1). It’s also worth mentioning that Wi2013 was deliberately drafted as strict law at the time. Gradually, the government began to look at the current system differently. An exploratory study was carried out on the improvement opportunities within the Wi2013. The exploration revealed a number of harshness, (too) strict parts of the laws and regulations. It has also emerged on a number of points that greater personalization is possible and desirable. Legislative processes have been initiated on a number of points.
DUO can thus better take into account the human dimension when making a first decision. To put it simply: by applying the Wi2013 in a better and more generous way upstream, the intention is no longer to come to the non-excusable overrun of the term and the damage that could result from it.
Finally, we can mention that the new civic integration law (Wi2021) will come into force on January 1, 2022. In the new system, there is even more room for personalization and there will also be continuous testing to modify the law if necessary. In addition, DUO will continue to seek, within the limits of laws and regulations, to do justice to individual case histories.
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