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Deportation laws in Germany — what you need to know

Homecoming agony

By Carla Bleiker 

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is calling for harsher deportation laws after asylum-seekers attacked pedestrians in Bavaria. So far, who gets deported — and who makes that call — is a complex matter.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has said he would send proposals to the government aimed at changing German deportation laws in an effort to make it easier to send criminal foreigners back to their home countries.

Leader of the conservative CSU, the Bavarian sister-party of Angela Merkel’s CDU, has suggested such changes before. The trigger for this most recent call was an attack in the Bavarian town of Amberg in which four suspects aged 17 to 19 —  asylum-seekers from Syria, Afghanistan and Iran — harassed and beat passers-by on December 29, 2018, while under the influence of alcohol. Twelve people were injured, though the injuries were mostly minor.

There are no data on how many people were deported after committing criminal offenses, but in general, the number of deportations fell last year. During the first half of 2018, roughly 12,300 people were deported from Germany. Compared to the same time period in 2017, that number is down by around 2 percent.

Who can be deported from Germany?

Because non-Germans must have some kind of residency permit to be allowed to stay in Germany, refugees and asylum-seekers are issued with temporary permits while their applications are being considered. If they have had their asylum applications turned down, they no longer have the right to stay in Germany, and are obliged to leave the country by a certain deadline (no longer than six months). If that deadline has passed, they may be forcibly deported to their country of origin.

READ  EU considers taking in 1,500 refugee children living in Greek camps: Germany

What about foreigners who have committed a crime?

A person applying for asylum who is sentenced to at least three years in prison must be deported. But in the case of people who have been convicted of less severe crimes, or are simply deemed a threat to public order and safety, the question of whether to deport is up to the authority in question.

The decision is based on two factors: how severe the crime was and how high the perpetrator’s need for protection is. A man who committed a misdemeanor and who’s facing torture or even death in his home country will not get deported. A foreigner with a German family or a steady job is also less likely to face deportation, if the crime he committed was minor.

A general rule says that a foreigner sentenced to at least two years in prison can be deported. One year is enough if the crime in question was part of a catalogue established after the 2015/16 New Year’s Eve attacks in Cologne, where a large group of mostly North African and Arab men groped, assaulted and robbed women. The catalogue includes sexual offenses and criminal assault.

Who decides who gets deported?

The responsibility for ordering deportations from Germany is shared by two different authorities – the Foreigners’ Registration Office (“Ausländerbehörde”), which is run by the regional state governments, and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

READ  Burkinafaso IDPs, refugees get emergency aid from UNHCR

In most cases, the registration office is responsible for issuing and enforcing deportation orders, but in asylum procedures, the BAMF also has the right to issue a deportation order once the application has been rejected. Even in those cases, the registration office is responsible for enforcing the deportation.

Since most deportations are not voluntary, the registration office can call in the police to help – and since deportations are the remit of border control, deportations are usually carried out by federal, not state police.

Authorities can also apply for a court order for a “deportation detention,” which can last up to 18 months, if they have evidence that a deportee intends to disappear to avoid deportation.

Do deportees have a right to appeal government decisions?

Yes. For instance, people whose asylum applications are rejected are entitled to file appeals with an administrative court. But they need to do so quickly. Those whose applications are rejected as “obviously unfounded” have only one week to file an appeal, while others get two weeks. People can also appeal against the decisions made by the foreigners’ registration authorities.

In recent years overworked BAMF offices have made flawed decisions on asylum applications, leaving asylum-seekers with legal opportunities to challenge rejections. This has resulted in many asylum-seekers spending a long time in Germany even after their initial applications were turned down.

What other reasons are there that hold up deportations?

Among those who are legally required to leave Germany, many escape deportation because they are too mentally or physically ill to travel or they lack identity documents such as passports needed for repatriation.

READ  Asylum seekers especially those living in the big camps were deprived of their rights in so many ways during the lockdown

German law also prohibits deportation if the deportee is threatened in his or her country of origin with capital punishment or torture, or if their life or freedom is threatened because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership of a certain social group. These people are then “tolerated” in Germany until the conditions precluding deportation change.

People initially allowed to stay may be told to leave later, which happened to some of the refugees Germany took in during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. They were ordered to go back home when the situation stabilized.

Ben Knight and Jefferson Chase contributed to this report.

Source: DW

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Netherlands, IOM launch Global Migration Initiative to protect people on the move

COMPASS will provide vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children access to a broad range of protection and assistance services.

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands launched the Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS) at the beginning of 2021. COMPASS is a global initiative, in partnership with 12 countries, designed to protect people on the move, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and support dignified return while promoting sustainable reintegration.

The initiative is centred on a whole-of-society approach which, in addition to assisting individuals, will work across all levels – households, communities, and the wider communities – and encompasses the following partner countries: Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

“We want to mobilize families, peers and communities to encourage informed and safe migration decisions, protect migrants, and help those returning home reintegrate successfully,” said Monica Goracci, Director of the Department of Migration Management at IOM.

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“One key component is also undermining the trafficking and smuggling business models through the promotion of safe alternatives and information sharing to reduce the risks of exploitation and abuse by these criminal networks.” Vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children, will have access to a broad range of protection and assistance services such as mental health and psychosocial support, while migrants in transit who wish to return home will be supported with dignified return and reintegration.

Community level interventions will focus on improving community-led efforts to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and support sustainable reintegration of returning migrants. COMPASS will work with national and local governments to enable a conducive environment for migrant protection, migration management and international cooperation on these issues.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to launch the COMPASS programme in cooperation with IOM, an important and longstanding partner on migration cooperation,” said Marriët Schuurman, Director for Stability and Humanitarian Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

READ  Nigerian migrant decries  ‘unjust ‘deportation from Cape Verde

“The programme is a part of the Dutch comprehensive approach to migration with activities that contribute to protection and decreasing irregular migration. Research and data gathering are also important components, and we hope that the insights that will be gained under COMPASS will contribute to broader knowledge sharing on migration and better-informed migration policies.”, added Schuurman. The initiative has a strong learning component, designed to increase knowledge and the uptake of lessons learned, both within the programme and beyond its parameters. COMPASS will actively contribute to global knowledge that supports countries in managing migration flows and protecting vulnerable migrants such as victims of trafficking. The implementation of COMPASS is set to start soon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, as the donor to the COMPASS initiative, pledges its active support to partner countries to improve migration cooperation mechanisms within its long-term vision. 

IOM, the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, contributes its expertise as the technical implementation partner to the initiative. IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners in its dedication to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. 

READ  Early morning fire disaster kills 14, destroys 250 shelters in IDP camp

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A child, 40 others drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

Photo: Mediterranean Sea

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deeply saddened by reports of a shipwreck off the coast of Sidi Mansour, in southeast Tunisia, yesterday evening. The bodies of 41 people, including at least one child, have so far been retrieved.

According to reports from local UNHCR and IOM teams, three survivors were rescued by the Tunisian National Coast Guard. The search effort was still underway on Friday. Based on initial information, all those who perished were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

This tragic loss of life underscores once again the need to enhance and expand State-led search and rescue operations across the Central Mediterranean, where some 290 people have lost their lives so far this year. Solidarity across the region and support to national authorities in their efforts to prevent loss of life and prosecute smugglers and traffickers should be a priority.

Prior to yesterday’s incident, 39 refugees and migrants had perished off the coast near the Tunisian city of Sfax in early March. So far this year, sea departures from Tunisia to Europe have more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020.

READ  129 deportees arrive in Haiti amid coronavirus concerns

UNHCR and IOM continue to monitor developments closely. They continue to stand ready to work with the national authorities to assist and support the survivors, and the family members of those lost.

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Ethiopian migrants return home from Yemen with IOM support in wake of tragic boat sinking

Yemen: Stranded Ethiopian migrants prepare to board an IOM-facilitated flight from Aden, Yemen, to fly home to Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Majed Mohammed 2021

One hundred and sixty Ethiopian migrants have returned home safely from Yemen today with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just one day after a perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden claimed the lives of dozens of people, including at least 16 children.

More than 32,000 migrants, predominantly from Ethiopia, remain stranded across Yemen in dire, often deadly, circumstances.

“The conditions of migrants stranded in Yemen has become so tragic that many feel they have no option but to rely on smugglers to return home,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM’s Director for Operations and Emergencies.

At least 42 people returning from Yemen are believed to have died on Monday when their vessel sank off the coast of Djibouti. Last month, at least 20 people had also drowned on the same route according to survivors. IOM believes that, since May 2020, over 11,000 migrants have returned to the Horn of Africa on dangerous boat journeys, aided by unscrupulous smugglers.

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“Our Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme provides a lifeline for those stranded in a country now experiencing its seventh year of conflict and crisis. We call on all governments along the route to come together and support our efforts to allow migrants safe and dignified opportunities to travel home,” added Labovitz.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on global migration. The route from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries has been particularly affected. Tens of thousands of migrants, hoping to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), now find themselves unable to complete their journeys, stranded across Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.

While the pandemic has also caused the number of migrants arriving to Yemen to decrease from 138,000 in 2019 to just over 37,500 in 2020, the risks they face continue to rise. Many of these migrants are stranded in precarious situations, sleeping rough without shelter or access to services. Many others are in detention or being held by smugglers.

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“We cannot find jobs or food here; Yemen is a problem for us,” said Gamal, a 22-year-old migrant returning on the VHR flight. “I used to sleep in the street on cardboard. I could only eat because of the charity people would give me and sometimes we were given leftovers from restaurants. I never had much to eat.”

Since October 2020, in Aden alone, IOM has registered over 6,000 migrants who need support to safely return home. Today’s flight to Addis Ababa was the second transporting an initial group of 1,100 Ethiopians who have been approved for VHR to Ethiopia. Thousands of other undocumented migrants are waiting for their nationality to be verified and travel documents to be provided.

Prior to departure on the VHR flight, IOM carried out medical and protection screenings to ensure that returnees are fit to travel and are voluntarily consenting to return. Those with special needs are identified and receive specialized counselling and support.

In Ethiopia, IOM supports government-run COVID-19 quarantine facilities to accommodate the returnees on arrival and provides cash assistance, essential items and onward transportation to their homes. The Organization also supports family tracing for unaccompanied migrant children.

READ  Denials, abandonment trail deportation of Nigerians from Germany

Across the Horn of Africa and Yemen, IOM provides life-saving support to migrants through health care, food, water and other vital assistance.

Today’s flight was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Post-arrival assistance in Addis Ababa is supported by EU Humanitarian Aid and PRM.

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