Keynote by Prof. Ashley B. Terlouw

The ASYFAIR team is happy to have Prof. Terlouw as a keynote speaker at the ASYFAIR Conference 2021.

As an academic and former deputy judge in a migration chamber at a Dutch court, her keynote will be relevant for all those interested in asylum adjudication.

Keynote, Thursday, 1 July 2021, 16:15 (BST)

The Dilemma of Discretion: Deciding by the rules or by heart in asylum cases?

In my speech I will deal with administrative discretion and the dilemma of dealing with this discretion in the asylum procedure. On the one hand the executive wants and needs to have administrative discretion. Discretion gives the executive freedom to make policy and to organize the work as they wish. On the other hand the same bureaucracies fear discretion. It makes them responsible, it causes work. They have to justify their choices.

To illustrate this dilemma I will use the Dutch situation in which the State Secretary of Justice and Safety struggles with her discretion. I will illustrate this by two examples:

In the first example discretion is welcomed by the State Secretary and used extensively. This concerns the way she deals with time limits in the asylum procedure. The second example concerns a situation in which discretion is seen as an unwelcome burden. This is the case when rejected asylum seekers who cannot be deported, root in the Netherlands and then claim that due to their specific situation they should be granted a residence permit.

In the end I hope to show that – although the dilemma of discretion seems to be a choice between equal and individual treatment – in fact both can be realized.

Prof. Ashley B. Terlouw

Sociology of Law and Migration Law

Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands)

Ashley Terlouw is professor of Sociology of Law at Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands). She is chair of one of the two research centres of the Law Faculty, the Research Centres for State and Law, and is responsible for the Institute of Sociology of Law and for the Centre of Migration Law.

She is also the chair of the Meijers Committee (Standing Committee of Experts in International Migration, Refugee and Criminal Law), the chair of the journal Asiel en Migratierecht, and is responsible for the Sectorplan on Conflict Resolution, for which Radboud University collaborates with the universities of Leiden and Utrecht.

In the past, she has worked at the Office of the District Court of The Hague, and was the head of the Refugee Department at Amnesty International Nederland. She has also been a member of the Dutch Committee on Equal Treatment, and was a deputy judge at the District Court of Gelderland (Migration Chamber) from 2011 – 2016.

Ashley’s main research topics are asylum, non-discrimination, and the working of judicial institutions, and she has published extensively on the administration of justice and migration law. She is supervising various PhD projects in e.g. strategic litigation in asylum cases, externalisation of EU asylum law, time pressure on migration law and criminal law judges, country of origin information in asylum procedures, and the treatment of Roma EU citizens.

Relevant publications (in English):

(for a full list of Ashley’s publications, see the Radboud Repository here)

A.B. Terlouw and A. Böcker (2019), ‘Mayors’ Discretion in Decisions about Rejected Asylum Seekers’, in P.E. Minderhoud, S.A. Mantu and K.M. Zwaan (eds) (2019), Caught In Between Borders: Citizens, Migrants and Humans. Liber Amicorum in honour of Prof. Dr. Elspeth Guild. Tilburg: Wolf Legal Publishers, pp. 291-302. (available here).

A.B. Terlouw (2016), ‘Voluntary Departure of Irregular Migrants and the Exception of Public Order: The Case of Z. Zh. & IO v Staatssecretaris voor Veiligheid en Justitie, Case C-554/13, 11 June 2015’, European Journal of Migration and Law, 18(1), pp.126-137. DOI:

B. de Hart and A.B. Terlouw (2015), ‘Born here: Revocation and the automatic loss of Dutch nationality in case of terrorist activities’, in M. van den Brink, S. Burri and J. Goldschmidt (eds), Equality and human rights: nothing but trouble? Liber amicorum Titia Loenen. Utrecht: Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), pp. 305-331. (available here).

B. Hubeau, A.B. Terlouw and M. Westerveld (2015), ‘Access to Justice: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’, Recht der Werkelijkheid, 36(3), pp. 169-172.

J. Gerards and A.B. Terlouw (2013), ‘Solutions for the European Court of Human Rights: The Amicus Curiae Project’, in S. Flogaitis, T. Zwart and J. Fraser (eds) The European Court of Human Rights and its Discontents. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 158-182. DOI: