Reducing the risks posed by Dutch returnees from Syria by transferring Germany’s experiences in their fight against the radical right to the Netherlands.


  • Henrique Franssens Henrique Franssens is currently doing a traineeship at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Beirut, Lebanon after finishing his MA International Crisis and Security Management at the University of Leiden/ Campus the Hague. Henrique has shown special interest in conflict areas in the Middle East and Latin America.


This article investigates one aspect of what the Dutch government can do to reduce the risks posed by Dutch jihadists who are currently fighting in Syria. The Dutch government has developed a comprehensive action programme to combat jihadism which outlines measures designed to combat the jihadist movement in the Netherlands. The comprehensive action programme includes plans to develop an exit facility to help people leaving the jihadist movement. Furthermore, a support facility needs to be created, based on the German network model. Of this network the Hayat programme will be analysed in-depth together with the EXIT-Deutschland programme. Hayat is a civil society programme that includes working with relatives of radicalised individuals and tries to de-radicalise these individuals. Hayat’s programme is amongst others based on experiences gained from EXIT-Deutschland, a de-radicalisation programme focusing on de-radicalising individual members of the radical right movement. The exit-facility that the Dutch government wants to create and the support facility are only explained vaguely and have not yet been introduced. This research investigates how and to what extent Hayat’s and EXIT-Deutschland’s elements can successfully be transferred to the Netherlands. This research recommends focusing on disengaging instead of de-radicalisation. The programme should be executed by an NGO with expert witness status. Furthermore, an active approach to contacting returnees is considered best in line with the Dutch government’s objectives. Important elements of the German programme can be transferred to the Netherlands. These elements include using a personal approach, providing returnees with alternatives and family counselling, and generally - apart from the already existing repressive measures - focusing on positive measures. This article also outlines the ways in which such a transfer of best practises can be best achieved.


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