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efms Migration Report

August 2005

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EU: German visa ordinance in principle not contrary to EU regulations

According to information that became known on 28 August 2005, the European Commission will not take legal steps against Germany for its disputed visa decree. Pursuant to the standpoint of Franco Frattini, the EU justice commissioner, the revised decree on a facilitated issue of visa of the Berlin-based Federal Foreign Office widely complies with the provisions foreseen by EU law. Individual provisions of the visa policy as employed by Germany and other states, however, would be critical. Moreover, there are still differences of opinion between Berlin and Brussels: While Frattini demands a common visa policy employed equally throughout the EU, the German Federal government insists in principle on maintaining national autonomy.
BZ 29.07.05

Visa quarrels before the Word Youth Day

Prior to the World Youth Day, the Catholic Church and the German Foreign Ministry agreed in 2004 on a procedure to facilitate the issue of visas for youths coming from Southern Asia, Africa or Latin America and, at the same time, to take preventive actions so that visits to Germany could not be used for illegal immigration. The following prerequisites to be fulfilled by visitors from these regions were agreed: a personal application at a German embassy, a letter of recommendation issued by the local bishop, an official registration in Cologne as well as the presentation of return flight tickets. Now, the Church has blamed the Foreign Ministry of not having adhered to the previous agreements. Youths from Togo, Cameroon, India and central Africa had to present evidence that constituted partly insuperable obstacles such as certificates of employment, extracts of account and real property deeds. Furthermore, it was said to be incomprehensible that German embassies refused to issue entry permits for twelve youths coming from the Limburg partner dioceses of Kumba in Cameroon and for a group of more than 600 Filipinos even though they had complied with all requirements.
SZ 08.08.05 // FR 11.08.05

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees: Revocation procedure criticised

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BMAF) plans to revoke the long-term asylum entitlements of 10,000 refugees even in 2005. Refugees from Iraq will be mainly affected. Compared to the 284 refugees that were recognised as political asylum seekers in the first half of 2005, the BAMF revoked in the same period the asylum status of about 6,000 refugees. Within then next months, another 7,000 refugees are threatened by the revocation of their status. This policy was justified by arguing that following the fall of the Saddam regime the reasons establishing their status would not longer exist. Pro Asyl is concerned that similar arguments could be used in the near future for revoking the protection of refugees coming from Afghanistan. Refugee organisations as well as the UNHCR have sharply criticised this policy by arguing that in no other European country such a huge number of asylum titles would be withdrawn - with tendencies sharply on the rise.
FR 27.08.05

More and more Germans seeking employment abroad

In addition to the approximately 362,300 foreigners living in Austria already, 11,900 new emigrants moved to the alpine republic in 2004, with 7,463 coming from Germany. A total of about 50,000 Germans is now working in the alpine country and thus represent the third-largest group of migrants after immigrants from former Yugoslavia and Turkey. Australia and New Zealand have also reported about a considerably rising number of Germans interested in emigrating to these countries: Compared to the period 2001/2002, the number of labour visas issued for New Zealand in the fiscal year 2004/2005 has doubled to 4,600.
FR 13.08.05 // FTD 18.08.05

Demonstrations to commemorate Hess remain prohibited

Following the Federal Constitutional Court’s refusal of an urgent petition issued on 16 August 2005, the commemorative demonstration to honour Hitler"s deputy, Rudolf Hess, planned by the right-wing party NPD for the 20 August 2005 in Wunsiedel remains prohibited. In its ruling (Ref.: 1 BvQ 25/05), the highest German court referred to a penal provision adopted by the German parliament and in force since 1 April 2005 according to which "whoever publicly or in a meeting approves, glorifies or justifies acts of violence or arbitrary acts committed under the rule of National Socialism in a manner capable of disturbing the public peace by injuring the honour of the victims" is committing an offence (§ 130, paragraph 4, German Penal Code - StGB). The citizens" initiative "Wunsiedel ist bunt - nicht braun" (Wunsiedel is coloured and not Nazi-brown) was relieved about the decision. The "Day of Democracy" scheduled for 20 August 2005 will nonetheless take place with the participation of probably 30 organisations and 115 smaller gatherings. It is planned to set-up information booths in the town centre, to deploy a 300 metre long banner of fabric bearing signatures against right-wing extremism and to organise a central demonstration with the participation of politicians such as Manfred Stolpe, Werner Schnappauf, Klaus Uwe Benneter and Claudia Roth. Following a ruling of the Administrative Court of Berlin, also a demonstration of the right-wing NPD party under the motto "Rudolf Hess - gebt die Akten frei (release the files)" originally scheduled for 24 August 2005 in the German capital remains prohibited.
Press release BVerfG No. 74/2005 of 17 August 2005 // SZ 18.08.05 // Die Welt 19.08.05

Preventive custody for terror suspects?

In the context of the expulsion of six Iraqi nationals, suspect of belonging to the terrorist group of Ansar Al-Islam, ordered on 3 August 2005, the Bavarian Minister of the Interior Günther Beckstein (CSU) has concerns that the suspects could go underground despite being under police surveillance. Therefore, he considers it indispensable to introduce preventive custody for identified "potential attackers" who cannot be deported immediately due to legal or factual obstacles. The taking into custody of dangerous persons for a maximum of six months would be absolutely necessary in individual cases in order to prevent terrorist attacks. Even Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) considers this proposal worth thinking about. In weighing up the valuable good of personal freedom against the endangering of the freedom as well as the security and safety of other citizens, special countermeasures against such threats would have to be taken. Among members of the governing coalition of SPD and Greens, Schily"s statement met with disapproval.
BZ 01.08.05 // SZ 03.08.05 // SZ 04.08.05 // FAZ 04.08.05 // FR 23.08.05 // SZ 27.08.05 // FR 27.08.05

Terror trial: 7 years of imprisonment for Motassadeq

In a renewal of the first criminal proceeding worldwide in the context of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the US, the Higher Regional Court (OLG) of Hamburg has sentenced Mounir el Motassadeq to seven years of imprisonment in its judgement of 19 August 2005. Contrary to the first trail held in February 2003, the OLG this time could not find sufficient evidence for finding him guilty of aiding and abetting murder in more than 3,000 cases and hence for sentencing him to a maximum penalty of 15 years of imprisonment. The judgement of 2003 was set aside following the lodging of an appeal of the defendant before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) for defects in the tendering of evidence. With the judgement resulting from the second trial, however, the proceeding will be probably not have come to an end. The Federal Public Prosecutor, Walter Hemberger, still demands the maximum penalty while Motassadeq"s counsel of defence claim the defendant"s acquittal. On 22 August 2005, both parties lodged a new appeal at the BGH. Meanwhile, Federal Minister of the Interior, Otto Schily (SPD) welcomed the judgement as a clear sign for the willingness of the constitutional state in its fight against terrorism and stressed that he would keep on taking severe and decisive actions against all who would try to attack German society and who pretend to destroy the peaceful cohabitation through murder and terror be it as individuals or by forming criminal organisations.
FAZ 10.08.05 // FAZ 13.08.05 // FAZ 16.08.05 // SZ 16.08.05 // dpa 18.08.05 // dpa 19.08.05 // Press release BMI 19.08.05 // NN 20.08.05 // FAZ 23.08.05 // SZ 24.08.05

Hesse: Asylum seekers interrogated by Vietnamese officials

The Refugee Council of Hesse severely criticised the "dubious circumstances" under which the identity of 300 Vietnamese asylum seekers was checked in Mühlheim/Main by a delegation of the Vietnamese Ministry of the Interior. In contrast to the point of view of the Regional Council of Darmstadt in charge, which considered the measure "an absolutely normal procedure", the Refugee Council criticised it would "comply under no circumstances with basic legal principles" and added that no lawyers or any other advisers had been admitted and neither the kind of questions asked nor the composition of the delegation had been revealed. The Regional Council confirmed that already in the previous year 2004 the identity of Vietnamese citizens was examined this way. Similar procedures would be applied in the case of Algerians and citizens of "Central African states". In addition, this procedure would be employed by other Federal states as well. Only in July, two Hamburg-based lawyers criticised the visit of government officials from Guinea to check the identity of 347 citizens of the Western African state allocated in three Federal states.
FR 02.08.05

Munich: Teaching ban on German-Islamic School

The local government of Upper Bavaria has cancelled the licence of the "German-Islamic School" in Munich to offer classes in the school year 2005/2006 and has withdrawn the state subsidy. According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the school operator - the German-Islamic Educational Society (DIBW) - which was appointed two years ago, is suspect of maintaining personal and economic links to Islamic fundamentalists. The Bavarian Ministry of Education and Culture is concerned that "the Islamistic attitude could have a negative influence on the pupils". Following this decision, parents of pupils attending the school lodged an appeal against it before the Administrative Court of Munich, delivered a letter of protest to the local government of Upper Bavaria and organised a demonstration in the city centre on 20 August 2005 against the school"s shut down with the participation of more than 100 pupils, teachers and school leavers.
SZ 06.08.05 // SZ 10.08.05 // Die Welt 10.08.05 // FR 12.08.05 // SZ 18.08.05 // SZ 22.08.05

Asylum statistics

In August 2005, a total of 2,423 persons have submitted an application for political asylum in Germany. Compared to July, the number of asylum seekers has thus increased by 12.7 per cent (+273 persons). Compared to August 2004, respective figures have fallen by 17.7 per cent (-520 persons). The main countries of origin in August were Serbia and Montenegro (425), Turkey (231) and Iraq (173) followed by the Russian Federation (137) and Vietnam (110). In August 2005, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the applications of 3,875 asylum seekers, 34 (0.9 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 175 persons (4.5 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Law. The applications of 2,282 persons (58.9 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of another 1,384 persons (35.7 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, for example because asylum seekers have withdrawn their applications.
Press release BMI 14.09.05

August 2005

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