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efms Migration Report

June 2003

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EU-Commission calls for "new ways" in European asylum policy

Two weeks before the summit of EU heads of government and state in the Greek town of Carras, the EU Commission has published a critical review of current asylum policies in EU member states. The debate focuses on a proposal presented by the British government, which calls for so-called "transit processing centres" outside EU territory, where asylum seekers are to be held until their petitions have been reviewed and decided upon. Even though the EU Commission shares the British view that European asylum policy is in crisis, it has rejected the British proposals in a document entitled "Establishing accessible, fair and implementable asylum systems". In a similar vein, the Commission has also conceded the necessity of "new approaches" in asylum policy, but emphasized that such drastic and fundamental changes as proposed by the British government would lead to a "huge number of unresolved questions, legally, financially and as far as implementation is concerned".

On the other hand, the EU Commission has welcomed a proposal presented by the UNHCR calling for processing centres in EU countries. At the centres, EU and UN experts are to cooperate and thus ensure fast-track asylum procedures, especially for asylum seekers whose petitions are mainly motivated by economic reasons. In addition, the UNHCR has suggested rewarding third countries financially if they agree to provide asylum for refugees.

Even though the EU Commission has not yet presented a detailed blueprint for a European asylum policy, it has emphasised the need for new approaches which ensure that refugees are accommodated and checked as close to their countries of origin as possible, that financial burdens are shared fairly between countries of origin and EU member states, that asylum petitions are processed faster and the repatriation of rejected applicants is improved.
dpa 03.06.03 // NZZ 03.06.03 // SZ 04.06.03 // FR 18.06.03 // SZ 18.06.03 // Das Parlament 23.06.03

EU heads of government agree on intensifying countermeasures against illegal immigration.

At the EU summit in the Greek town of Carras, European heads of government and state have agreed on intensifying common measures against illegal immigration. Kostas Simitris, the current Greek President of the EU Council, has announced that the EU will allocate an additional 140m between 2004 and 2006 for protecting the EU's exterior borders. Participants have also agreed that refugee problems are to be discussed with the government of refugees' countries of origin. As the cooperation with third countries in fighting illegal immigration "is not always the way it should be" (according to Mr. Simitis), the EU is to re-evaluate its exterior relations with these countries.

A proposal presented by the British government, which calls for so-called "transit processing centres" outside EU territory, where asylum seekers are to be held until their petitions have been reviewed and decided upon (see above), has been rejected by European heads of government and state. However, the EU Commission has been commissioned to devise proposals allowing asylum seekers to submit their petitions at EU embassies in their home countries. In future, the EU Commission will also compile and annual migration and integration report, which is to contribute to a "more efficient handling of migration problems in Europe".
FR 21.06.03 // taz 22.06.03 // Welt 22.06.03 // Handelsblatt 23.06.03

Government migration bill has fallen through in opposition-dominated Bundesrat

The migration bill presented by the red-green government coalition has been rejected by the opposition-controlled Bundesrat, the second chamber of the federal parliament representing state governments. In the parliamentary debate, Saarland Premier Peter Müller conceded that German foreign-resident law is in urgent need of reform and modernisation. However, he reiterated the criticism of the Union opposition parties, saying that the government proposals will lead to additional immigration instead of restricting it. At the same time, he stressed that a compromise cannot be "ruled out" if both sides show "some goodwill".

Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has announced that he will appeal to the conference committee of both houses of parliament in order to hammer out a compromise. The conference committee will set up a working group starting negotiations as early as July 2. As the bulk of the work, however, will not be tackled before the end of the parliamentary summer recess, first results cannot be expected before autumn. Mr. Schily has expressed his confidence in the ability of opposition and coalition parties to "focus on the subject matter" at hand and reach a compromise on legal reforms concerning migration and integration. Volker Beck, the secretary of the Green parliamentary party, has also expressed his willingness to compromise, on condition that the reform does not lead to a deterioration of current standards.
FAZ 21.06.03 // FR 21.06.03 // SZ 22.06.03 // Welt 22.06.03 // Das Parlament 23.06.03

Federal Administrative Court issues landmark decision on annulling naturalisations

In a landmark ruling, the Federal Administrative Court has decided that naturalised persons can have their citizenship annulled if their naturalisation was granted on the basis of false statements. In the underlying case, the German citizenship of a native Austrian has been repealed one year after his naturalisation when it was revealed that he had concealed ongoing fraud investigations against him in his home country. An appeal against this decision had already been rejected by the Bavarian Administrative Court. In response to a subsequent appeal, the Federal Administrative Court has upheld the grounds underlying the decision, but has also ruled that the administrative court in Munich has to review the case again has on account of procedural mistakes. (Ref.: BVerwG 1 C 19.02)
FR 05.06.2003

Naturalisation numbers have decreased in 2002, but continue to be at a high level

In 2002, a total of 154,547 persons have been naturalised in Germany, a decrease by 13.2% over the previous year (178,098). However, compared to annual figures before the reform of nationality law in January 2000, which amounted to 110,990 on average, current figures continue to be high. On the whole, 519,333 persons have been naturalised since the reform. This development has been welcomed by Marieluise Beck (Greens), the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreign Resident Affairs and Integration, and by Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD). Both politicians have expressed the view that the high numbers prove the "readiness for integration" among many non-German residents. The largest group of naturalised citizens is constituted by migrants with a Turkish background (41.8 %), followed by persons from Iran (8.4 %) and the former Yugoslavia (5.4%). The percentage of persons maintaining their original nationality, and thus acquiring dual nationality, has decreased from 48.3 % in 2001 to 41.5% last year.
Press Statement BMI 13.06.03 // FAZ 14.06.03 // FR 14.06.03

Court prohibits extradition of Islamist leader Metin Kaplan to Turkey

The upper district court in (OLG) in Düsseldorf has ruled that Islamist leader Metin Kaplan, often referred to as the "Caliph of Cologne", must not be extradited to Turkey. According to the court, the extradition would be illegal as it has to be assumed that the trial Mr. Kaplan will have to face in Turkey will not be in line with legal standards; in its statement, the court has referred to the possibility of "political persecution".

Metin Kaplan was released in March 2003 after serving a four-year prison sentence in Germany. He had now been arrested again in order to enforce an extradition order. Following the court ruling, he been released from detention in Cologne. Authorities have ordered him to stay within the city limits of Cologne. Municipal authorities in Cologne had also initiated the immediate enforcement of Kaplan's extradition. Mr. Kaplan had appealed against the decree before the administrative court of jurisdiction.

Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) and Fritz Behrens (SPD), the interior minister of North-Rhine Westphalia, have expressed regret about the court decision. In a joint statement, they emphasise that the court ruling is the final decision on the extradition of Metin Kaplan, as the court itself has pointed out that its ruling did not concern the legality of administrative measures under foreign-resident law. Hartmut Koschyk (CSU), interior policy spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary party, has criticised Mr. Kaplan's release as "further proof of the failure of German foreign-resident law in the face of political and religious extremism".
Press statement BMI 27.05.03 // FAZ 28.05.03 // dpa 02.06.03 // Welt 17.06.03 // NN 28.06.03

Asylum statistics for June 2001 and the first six months of 2003

In June 2003, a total of 3,653 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany, a decrease by 2.8 % (105 persons) over last month, and by 35.5 % (2,011 persons) over June 2002.

The main countries of origin of applicants in June 2003 were Turkey (480), Serbia and Montenegro (359) and the Russian Federation (318), followed by China (211) and Iraq (206). The Russian Federation was the only country of origin with a slight increase over May (234) and April (188) of this year.

The Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has passed decisions on the petitions of 6,642 persons in June, 115 (1.7 %) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum according to the German constitution. A further 90 persons (1.4 %) have been granted protection against deportation according to § 51 Par.1 Foreigners Act. The petitions of 4,613 persons (69.4 %) have been rejected; the remaining 27.5% of cases have been closed for other reasons (e.g. when applications have been withdrawn).

A survey of asylum figures for the first six months of 2003 shows a similar trend, with the number of asylum petitions continuing to decrease. During this period, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees in Nuremberg has decided on 26,452 asylum petitions, a decrease by 24 % over the last six months of 2002, and by 27 % first half year in 2003. According to a statement by the Federal Interior Ministry, these half-year figures were the lowest ones since 1987.

During the first six months of 2003, most asylum seekers came from Turkey (3.328), Iraq (3.003), Serbia and Montenegro (2.429) and the Russian Federation (1.531), followed by China (1.287), Vietnam (1.049) and Iran (999). Whereas the number of applicants from Iraq and Afghanistan has plummeted since last year, a new and significant development has been marked by the increase in asylum seekers from China, with a significant increase especially over the last twelve months. Compared to the first half year of 2003, respective figures have risen by 575, an increase of no less than 80.8%.
Press statement BMI 13.07.03

June 2003

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