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efms Migration Report

August 2004

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Interior ministers of Germany and Italy suggest plans for refugee reception centres in North Africa

Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) and his Italian counterpart, Giuseppe Pisanu, have announced shared proposals for setting up European reception centres for refugees in North Africa. The plans are to be discussed at the upcoming G5 EU States meeting in Florence, and subsequently presented as a common proposal to the EU Council of Justice and Interior Ministers. The proposed EU reception centres for refugees, which would constitute a potential preliminary stage on the way to a future European asylum agency, would accept and review asylum petitions submitted outside European Union territory. Above all, these centres would process the petitions of refugees detained in the Mediterranean Sea, who are to be transported back to the transit countries from which they had embarked on their journey across the Mediterranean Sea. One of the main priorities of the proposals is to accommodate refugees in regions close to their home countries, whereas admission to enter EU member states is only to be granted in special cases. According to Mr. Schily, there are no plans for allowing a judicial review of rejected asylum petitions, pointing out that the German constitutional right to asylum does only apply to refugees who have entered the Federal Republic of Germany. Mr. Schily has also called on the EU Commission to develop proposals for setting up a first reception centre in North Africa on a trial basis, referring to Morocco, Tunisia and Libya as possible locations. Furthermore, the German and the Italian interior ministers are also deliberating proposals for setting up a European "clearing centre" where "economic refugees" could register themselves as seeking employment and EU member states could post their demand for legal immigration of labour. The aim of this shared German-Italian proposal is not only to prevent refugees from risking their lives by embarking on a treacherous sea journey through the Mediterranean Sea, but also to counteract migration pressure of migrants trying the enter the EU. The Italian government has only recently called on other EU member states to share the burden of securing the European Union's exterior borders, in order to distribute the financial expenses of securing the sea borders of Italy more equally. In Germany, the idea of Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) to set up refugee reception centres in North Africa have sparked a controversial debate, both among coalition and opposition parties. Critics of Mr. Schily's proposals, among them representatives of the SPD, the Greens and refugee organisations, as well as some members of the opposition parties, have expressed their concern that these reception centres would potentially violate the Geneva Convention for Refugees. Antonio Vitorino, the EU Commissioner responsible for asylum policy, has so far also rejected the proposal.
Welt am Sonntag 01.08.04 // SZ 02.08.04 // Die Welt 03.08.04 // FTD 03.08.04 // NN 04.08.04 // BZ 05.08.04 // Die Welt 06.08.04 // Handelsblatt 06.08.04 // Der Spiegel 09.08.04 // BMI Pressemitteilung 13.08.04 // taz 14.08.04 // Deutschlandfunk 16.08.04 // FR 17.08.04 // Die Welt 19.08.04 // taz 25.08.04 // FTD 25.08.04

Federal Administrative Court bases its ruling concerning the expulsion of convicted EU citizens on earlier decision by European Court of Justice

According to a ruling published by the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig on August 3, 2004 (Ref: 1C30.02), nationals of other EU member states who have been convicted and sentenced to longer prison terms in Germany can no longer automatically be expelled from Germany. The highest German administrative court, which has based its conclusion on an earlier ruling by the European Court of Justice, has thus overruled a passage in Germany's Foreigners Act. According to German legislation, expulsion of a foreign national had been mandatory if the person concerned had been convicted and sentenced to a prison term of at least three years, or a two-year prison sentence for drug-related crime (Ref.: 1 C26.02).
taz 04.08.04

The new Immigration Act can definetly take effect on January 1, 2005

The new Immigration Act can definitely take effect on January 1, 2005. After the law had been signed by Federal President Horst Köhler on July 30, 2004, it was officially promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette on August 5, 2004.
Die Welt 06.08.04

Commissions for hardship cases set up in accordance with the new Immigration Act

The states of Berlin, Mecklenburg-Pomerania and North-Rhine Westphalia have already set up commissions for hardship cases in accordance with the new immigration act. The state of Baden-Wuerttemberg is also considering a similar move. Ulrich Goll (FDP), the new state minister of justice and commissioner for foreign residents, has expressed his support for setting up a commission that would include church representatives but exclude refugee organisations. Brandenburg's interior minister Mr. Schönbohm (CDU), and his counterpart from Lower Saxony, Mr. Schünemann (CDU), on the other hand, have both rejected calls for setting up a commission for hardship cases in theirs federal states. In the view of Mr. Schünemann, it would be more appropriate for the petition committee of the state parliament to adopt this responsibility. Under his proposals, deportation procedures would be suspended during the review of a petition, for a maximum period of six months, provided that the foreign nationals concerned have sufficient means of livelihood at their disposal.
FAZ 17.08.04 // Evangelischer Pressedienst Südwest 21.08.04

Muslim members of CDU object to headscarf ban

Whereas the CDU, the largest opposition party, has so far supported a headscarf ban for Muslim teachers, the German-Turkish Forum within the CDU's state party organisation of North-Rhine Westphalia has rejected calls for a general headscarf ban for all public sector workers, in a written statement entitled "Principles of a Christian-Democratic Policy towards Islam for Germany". Bülent Arslan, the chairman of the forum, has pointed out that wearing a headscarf is, first and foremost, a religious obligation and therefore not anti-constitutional as such. Consequently, each case should be reviewed individually in order to establish whether a woman wears a headscarf during work for political reasons, which would then justify a headscarf ban for a person working in the public sector. CDU party leaders have so far not responded to the statement.
Welt am Sonntag 29.08.04

Asylum statistics

In August 2004, a total of 2,943 persons have submitted asylum petitions in Germany. This constitutes an increase by 1.2% (+36 persons) over the previous month, but a decrease by 17.0% (-605 persons) over August 2003. In August 2004, asylum seekers' main countries of origin were Turkey (319), Serbia / Montenegro (292) and the Russian Federation (244), followed by China (153) and Vietnam (148). During this period, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has reviewed the cases of 4,625 persons, 61 (1.3%) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 101 persons (2.2%) have been granted protection against deportation according to §51 Par.1 AuslG (Foreigners Act). The petitions of 2,759 persons (59.7%) have been rejected. The cases of a further 1,704 persons (36.8%) have been closed for other reasons, for example because applicants have withdrawn their petitions.
Pressemitteilung BMI 10.09.04

August 2004

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