The State of Justice - The case Samuel
Lara Staal and the experts consider the case of Samuel. Samuel is one of the many young Eritreans aged between 16 and 25 who come to Europe as refugees via Sudan, the Sahara and Libya, experiencing all kinds of exploitation on the way. When their application for asylum in Europe is rejected, they find themselves slipping through the net, with hardly any access to adequate shelter and care.
Samuel is one of the ‘Dublin Brothers’. The name of the group is a reference to the Dublin Regulation, which states that the country where you are registered for the first time is responsible for you. After the winter shelter in Amsterdam closed on 1 April 2019, the Eritrean boys teamed up under the name Dublin Brothers.
For The State of Justice – The Case of Samuel we will focus on the story of Samuel, who arrived in Europe in 2018 via Italy, at the age of 15. He was registered three times in Italy, under a different date of birth each time. Samuel told the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) that he arrived on land unconscious, after five days floating at sea. One of the adults who travelled with him tried to estimate his age and gave his date of birth as 01-01-2001.
Samuel decided to travel to the Netherlands first and rectify the incorrect registration there. It didn’t work. At that point he had no official documents that could prove his identity, which led to the IND questioning his claim to be a minor. This was the beginning of a terrifying series of visits to various authorities that all slammed the door in his face.
After a long period of serious psychological fragility, a juvenile court judge was prepared to review his case. Since May 2020, Samuel has had a residence permit and has been declared officially a minor.
THE STATE OF JUSTICE
Samuel’s case is one in thousands. In the last two years, more and more young people have been arriving from Eritrea, many of them in dire straits. However they hardly get any help at all in countries like the Netherlands or Belgium if their application for asylum is rejected. Despite their extreme vulnerability, the Netherlands always sends them back to their country of registration, even though everyone knows that Italy cannot cope with the large influx and that the registration procedures are very chaotic.
We use Samuel’s story, presented by an actor, to try and get a grip on the irrefutable injustice in our current asylum policy. Samuel’s plea is followed by a discussion led by experts.
The audience is the jury in Samuel’s case, and has the opportunity to note down questions that will guide the discussion.
HERE TO SUPPORT
For The State of Justice, Lara Staal is working closely with Here to Support, an Amsterdam-based organisation that works with refugees in limbo. Besides its advocacy work, Here to Support is committed to setting up artistic projects in partnership with other organisations that offer visibility to refugees who have not received a residence permit but cannot return to their country of origin.
ABOUT THE SERIES
The State of Justice – The Case of Samuel is the fourth part in the series ‘The State of ...’ that Lara Staal created at NTGent between 2018 and 2020. This series of performative conferences explores traditional values – truth, belief, beauty, justice and pride – in our present-day society. The previous edition was on the theme of beauty, in which Lara Staal investigated The Case of ‘Africa’, the production that Oscar van Rompay and Peter Verhelst made at NTGent in 2013.
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