'Free In, Free Out': Exploring Dutch Firewall Protections for Irregular Migrant Victims of Crime

Ruben Timmerman*, Arjen Leerkes, Richard Staring, Nicola Delvino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Real and perceived risks of deportation may compromise the effective right of irregular migrants to report to the police if they have been a victim of crime. Some localities have therefore introduced so-called firewall protection, providing a clear separation between the provision of public services and immigration enforcement. This article explores one such policy in the Netherlands: 'free in, free out'. While the policy began as a local pilot project, in 2015 it was introduced at the national-level alonpide implementation of EU Victim's Rights Directive, and currently represents the only national-level example of 'firewall protection' for victims of crime in Europe. This article is based on a socio-legal study that included interviews with informants from governmental and non-governmental organisations. It documents the legal and social reasons for instituting the policy, while critically assessing the challenges in implementation. Finally, it discusses the lessons and opportunities for expanding firewall protection more broadly in a European context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-455
Number of pages29
JournalEuropean Journal of Migration and Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • irregular migration
  • victims' rights
  • Victims' Rights Directive
  • firewall protection
  • sanctuary cities
  • safe reporting
  • access to justice


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