House rules

The COA has house rules, which residents must follow in all reception centres. This allows us to keep reception centres safe and pleasant to live in. For example, residents must keep their accommodation clean, check in their visitors at the reception desk and comply with the obligation to report. Residents receive the house rules when they arrive in the reception centre. The house rules are available in various languages and residents get an explanation during an information meeting.

Discrimination, intimidation and violence

In the house rules, we refer to Dutch legislation and Section 1 of the Constitution. In the Constitution, it is laid down that discrimination on the basis of religion, beliefs, political affinity, race or sex, or on any other basis whatsoever is not permitted. Discrimination, intimidation and violence are forbidden in the Netherlands.

Disciplinary measures

What if asylum seekers don't respect their fellow residents or COA staff, or breach the house rules in any other way? Then we take disciplinary measures. For example, we hold corrective interviews or withhold their allowance. The COA cannot deny shelter in a reception centre. However, we can give people who cause a nuisance a so-called time-out place. These disciplinary measures have been laid down in the Provisions Denial Rules. 

Enforcement and supervision centre

The COA can also impose the so-called 'htl measure' on asylum seekers who cause a lot of nuisance. They will then temporarily have to go to the enforcement and supervision centre (htl). In this centre, we confront nuisance-causing asylum seekers with their behaviour and enable them to improve this.

Criminal behaviour: reported to the police

We always report criminal behaviour – or suspicion of it – to the police. We also stimulate victims to report criminal behaviour to the police. COA staff cannot report criminal behaviour to the police on behalf of a victim. However, if they witness an event, they can report this to the police. Every reception centre has short communication lines with the local police. The community police officer is regularly in the reception centre.

Safe Public Function: higher sentencing

People with a public function must be able to do their job safely. In case of violence or aggression against COA staff or other employees with a public function, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) will demand a higher sentence.

  • Wijkagent azc Zweeloo begroet de beveligers bij receptie
    © Inge van Mill

People causing nuisance: measures by the government

If an asylum seeker causes a nuisance, various disciplinary measures are possible, depending on the situation. For example an area ban, aliens detention, or placement in an enforcement and supervision centre.

Asylum seekers who commit crimes are disciplined via the criminal system. This can lead to prosecution or a prison sentence. In 2019, the Ministry of Justice and Security increased the measures against people causing a nuisance. These measures have been implemented in close collaboration with municipalities, organisations in the immigration system (COA, IND, DT&V and Nidos), the police, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) and the judiciary system.

  • Politie arresteert een vreemdeling
    © Mediatheek Rijksoverheid

Registration of incidents

The COA registers all incidents in reception centres. These are events that affect the safety, living environment, and manageability of a centre: breaching the house rules, disrupting public order, or committing a crime. It usually concerns breach of the house rules, like not cleaning the own accommodation, smoking in the room, or making noise.