Dutch Minister Recommends House Arrest for Asylum Seekers New Year's Eve

Local governments will have to decide; the suggestion comes after the sexual assaults on women in Cologne, Germany, last New Year's Eve.

Dutch Interior Minister Klaas Dijkhoff attends a Home Affairs Council at the European Council in Brussels on December 9, 2016.

BRUSSELS A Dutch security official said he wants his country to impose house arrest on New Year's Eve for migrants and asylum seekers who “might cause problems” that night.

Klaas Dijkhoff, the state secretary for security and justice, was speaking to Dutch NPO Radio 1 on Monday evening.

Dijkhoff said he did not intend to issue an order on the issue; it was only a recommendation to local governments, which are responsible for absorption centers.

Police officers survey the area of the New Year's Eve assaults in Cologne, Germany, January 6, 2016.

“They have files and surveil people, and they know which of them are problematic and who the provocateurs are; they can be placed under house arrest on New Year’s Eve,” Dijkhoff said. “We have no choice. We must sharpen the tools at our disposal.”

Last New Year's Eve in Cologne, Germany, dozens of women were sexually assaulted near the main train station; few of the suspects are German citizens. There were similar attacks elsewhere in Germany. The events helped boost support for far-right movements that oppose immigration.

Dijkhoff also said that during the past year about 23,000 immigrants and asylum seekers had been ordered out of the Netherlands. Half were deported and half left voluntarily, including hundreds of illegal residents from Algeria and Morocco.

Dijkhoff's comments also come in the run-up to the Dutch general election due in March. Last week, Party For Freedom leader Geert Wilders was convicted of inciting discrimination against Moroccan immigrants; a Maurice de Hond poll conducted two days later showed that his far-right party would win another two seats in parliament.