Germany tightens asylum law; the key new regulations

The German parliament has passed legislation to tighten the country’s asylum laws, making it easier to deport failed asylum-seekers and monitor those deemed dangerous to public security in a move that has been slammed by opposition parties and rights groups as an assault on the rights of refugees.

These are the new regulations in the legislation passed by the federal parliament, Bundestag, late on Thursday (18 May):

  • Authorities will be able to detain refugees due for deportation for 10 days rather than four, and monitor by ankle bracelet those deemed potentially dangerous.
  • A migrant could be issued a deportation order even if the country origin fails to provide the necessary documentation or passport.
  • The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is now allowed to access asylum-seekers’ personal electronic devices, such as smart phone or tablet computer, in order to verify the identities of those without official identification papers.
  • The freedom of movement of all failed asylum-seekers will be restricted.
  • Any migrant found to have given a false identity upon entering Germany will see their freedom of movement strictly limited. The same restriction would also apply to migrants without the right to remain in Germany, but who nevertheless refuse to leave on their own volition.
  • Asylum-seekers deemed to have few prospects to be recognised as refugees will be required to remain in reception centres until their asylum procedures have been completed.
  • Rejected asylum-seekers would be prohibited from acquiring the right to stay by using a law that allows migrant fathers to remain if their child is born in Germany.

Assault on refugee rights

Refugee support organisation Pro Asyl criticised the measures, saying that they robbed refugees of their right to privacy.

“The agreed package of measures for tougher deportation policies is a programme that will deprive asylum-seekers of hope for protection in Germany and is aimed at discouraging them,” the organisation said in a statement.

Defending the move, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere referred to the new measures as “a conclusion of efforts to tighten asylum laws in this legislative period”.

The measures were decided partly as a response to a truck attack in Berlin last December in which 12 people were killed. Although attacker Anis Amri’s asylum request had failed and he was under surveillance by police, the authorities failed to deport him.

Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian, had been living in Germany as an asylum seeker. He was killed in Italy after he pulled a gun and shot an Italian officer in the shoulder during a routine police check.

Hundreds of German investigators are investigating how Amri managed to flee Germany after the attack and whether he may have had accomplices or a support network that helped him escape.

Kwame Appiah with agency reports

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