Saturday, September 20, 2008

Legal loophole allows polygamists to become Dutch citizens

Immigrants who have entered into polygamous or bigamous marriages in their country of origin can obtain Dutch citizenship due to a loophole in Dutch naturalisation law, mayors of the four major cities in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague) say.

Having more than one spouse is prohibited in the Netherlands and polygamous marriages do not comply with the demands immigrants have to meet when applying for citizenship.
However, people who meet specific demands can acquire Dutch nationality through a special regulation in one of the statutes of the Dutch law on citizenship. Under this, citizenship is granted after a three month process which does not include verification of whether an applicant is polygamous. The applicant must not have a criminal record and must prove he/she was born and lived on Dutch soil for a substantial amount of time.

The four major cities have called on the justice ministry to close the loophole in the law.
In Amsterdam alone dozens of immigrants have acquired citizenship because of this breach, research from the mayor's office shows. The city wants the law changed but has found the immigration and naturalisation service unresponsive.

While polygamous contracts cannot be made in the Netherlands – and are punishable by law – those who arrange such marriages abroad can list them in municipal registers.
Amsterdam has 173 men with one or more wives on its books and the national statistics office estimates there are several hundred cases across the country. These are written off as "administrative errors" because the law prohibits such unions.


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Day opening - September 20

Gouda, Candle night - the Netherlands