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efms Migration Report

May 2004

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Exploratory talks between party leaders have led to "political agreement" on migration reform

Even though the red-green government coalition had already announced that the migration reform negotiations in the parliamentary conference committee had finally failed, the two coalition partners agreed nonetheless that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (SPD) should make a last-ditch attempt at finding a compromise and enter into exploratory talks with opposition leaders. Earlier negotiations had failed because the CDU/CSU opposition parties had insisted on including tightened national-security regulations in the migration bill.

In the run-up to the talks between Mr. Schroeder and opposition leaders, several representatives of the Greens had expressed doubts as to whether the opposition parties were actually seeking a compromise at all, whereas Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) had expressed his readiness to compromise with opposition parties on several points. According to Mr. Schily, the planned legislation should include provisions allowing German authorities to expel so-called "hate preachers" and human traffickers without any delay. Furthermore, Mr. Schily also favours, in contrast to his Green coalition partners, mandatory background checks, carried out by agents of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, on foreign nationals applying for a permanent residence status or naturalisation. Mr. Schily has also agreed that the question of whether to hold non-German terrorist suspects that are to be expelled in preventive detention should be put "on the agenda", but he added that it should not be included in the current debate on a new immigration act. Peter Mueller, chief negotiator of the CDU/CSU opposition parties, has meanwhile hinted that the opposition might be willing to give up demands for including preventive detention in the planned immigration act, provided that the government coalition includes other security demands of his party in the bill in a "sufficient" manner.

In the exploratory talks, where Mr. Schroeder negotiated individually with opposition party leaders Guido Westerwelle (FDP), Angela Merkel (CDU) and Edmund Stoiber (CSU), the Chancellor presented compromise proposals that were eventually accepted by all the parties involved. After the talks, Mr. Schroeder called the compromise a "political agreement". Negotiators have also agreed that remaining details of the legislation should be resolved in further talks between Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD), Saarland Premier Peter Mueller (CDU) and the Bavarian Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein (CSU) in June.

Whereas most parties have welcomed the compromise, representatives of the CDU/CSU opposition parties have expressed reservations, emphasising that a final evaluation should not be undertaken before the amended legislative bill has been presented. Some representatives of the Greens have also criticised the compromise, complaining about the fact that the Chancellor does not plan to include any Green politicians in the talks determining the final wording of the bill.

Most representatives of trade unions as well as employers and trade associations have welcomed the compromise, but several human-rights and refugee organisations have reacted to the agreement with disappointment. Representatives of amnesty international and Pro Asyl criticised that the compromise included too far-reaching security provisions, whereas regulations on asylum law and the protection of refugees were not far-reaching enough.
BZ 03.05.04 // Spiegel online 03.05.04 // FR 04.05.04 // FAZ 10.05.04 // FAZ 11.05.04 // NN 11.05.04 // Welt 11.05.04 // FAZ 18.05.04 // FR 18.05.04 // Welt 18.05.04 // SZ 25.05.04 // SZ 26.05 .04 // FAZ 26.05.04 // taz 27.05.04 // Welt 27.05.04 // FAZ 28.05.04

Upper administrative court refuses to protect Metin Kaplan against deportation

Two court decisions have made the deportation of Islamist leader Metin Kaplan more likely. The administrative court in Cologne has rejected an appeal by Mr. Kaplan and upheld the expulsion order which had been issued by the local administration in Cologne last summer. According to judges at the administrative court, the expulsion order is lawful as Mr. Kaplan had been sentenced to a four-year prison term and, additionally, he is in risk of committing further criminal offences. Mr. Kaplan, the self-styled "Caliph of Cologne" has thus definitively lost his residence permit and will only be granted a temporary toleration certificate instead. (Ref: 12 L 1343/03)

In a related decision, the upper administrative court (OVG) in Muenster has repealed the expulsion ban which Mr. Kaplan had been granted by the administrative court in Cologne in August 2003; the Cologne court had based its ruling on the assumption that Mr. Kaplan could face a trial in Turkey which would not guarantee his civil rights. The federal government had appealed against this decision and has now been successful in its efforts to have the deportation ban lifted. According to judges at the upper administrative court, there are no serious obstacles to carrying out the deportation. However, the court has expressly admitted a further appeal before the Federal Administrative Court, the highest administrative court in Germany. Meanwhile, legal experts have expressed opposing views as to whether it would be admissible to deport the Islamist leader during appeal proceedings. (Ref.: 8 A 3852/03.A)

The Cologne administrative court has recently also upheld an urgent appeal by Mr. Kaplan, effectively protecting him against deportation for the next two months. The local administration in the City of Cologne, in turn, has lodged a complaint against this decision, and also tightened registry requirements for Mr. Kaplan, requiring him to report to the authorities in person more frequently.
NZ 21.05.04 // taz 21.05.04 // Press statement BMI 26.05.04 // BZ 27.05.04 // NZZ online 27.05.04 // Welt 27.05.04 // 27.05.04 // SZ 02.06.04 // BZ 02.06.04 // Welt 04.06.04

European Court of Justice issues ruling on expulsion of criminal EU citizens

The European Court of Justice (EuGH) has issued a ruling on two related cases concerning the expulsion of two EU citizens from Germany, an Italian and a Greek national who had been sentenced for multiple criminal offences. In its ruling, the court has corrected the German practice on expelling foreign nationals. Under German law, authorities are entitled to expel foreign nationals who have been sentenced to a prison term of three or more years. However, the European Court of Justice has decided that such a sentence is not sufficient by itself to justify the expulsion of EU citizens. According to the highest European court, expulsions of EU citizens have to be based on an individual prognosis assessing the individual case of the person involved and ascertaining whether he or she poses a "current threat to public order". Expulsions for the purpose of deterrence, on the other hand, are not admissible.

Judges at the European Court of Law have also called on German authorities to observe procedural standards and guarantee an exhaustive review of the lawfulness and appropriateness of administrative expulsion and deportation orders. A mere review of the legality of an expulsion by an administrative court, without any evaluation of its appropriateness, is not sufficient, according to the court. (EuGH, C-482/01; C-493/01)
Handelsbaltt 05.05.04 // LexisNexis (Nr. 47507) 07.05.04

Council of judges recommends headscarf ban for Muslim junior barristers

The Cologne Council of Judges, an association of judges working at local courts in Cologne, has recommended that Muslim junior barristers who are in training at local courts should be banned from wearing headscarves in court, as this would constitute a violation of the principle of the political and religious neutrality of courts of law.

In the underlying case, a young Muslim trainee of German nationality had refused to take off her headscarf during court proceedings at a local court in Cologne, whereupon two judges had ordered her to leave the bench and sit among the spectators. The council has upheld this decision, issuing a public statement to the effect that junior barristers who insist on displaying political or religious symbols during court proceedings are not allowed to sit among judges, in order to prevent that they are "identified with the court". However, as all future lawyers and judges in Germany have to complete in-court training, trainees wearing headscarves my not be excluded from court proceedings completely. In addition, they should neither be excluded from jury proceedings, according to the Cologne Council of Judges.

The statement of the council is not legally binding, and includes a clear instruction that each judge is responsible for deciding individually whether trainees are permitted to wear headscarves during court proceedings.
FR 26.05.04 // taz 26.05.04

Asylum statistics

In May 2004, a total of 2,609 asylum petitions have been submitted to German authorities, continuing the downward trend of recent months. In comparison to the previous month, respective figures have decreased by 13.5 % (406 applicants), and by as much as 30.6 % (1,149 applicants) over May 2003.

Approximately 30 % of all applicants submitting an asylum petition in May 2004 come from the following three main countries of origin: Turkey (304), Serbia and Montenegro (304) and the Russian Federation (185). Other major countries of origin include China (154), Vietnam (123) and Pakistan (100).

In May 2004, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has reviewed the petitions of 4,726 applicants, 1.2 % (58 people) of whom have been recognised as entitled to asylum. A further 1.6 % (74 people) have been granted protection against deportation according to §51 Par.1 Foreigners Act (AuslG). The quota of rejected petitions amounted to 65.0 % (3,070 people) in May 2004. The remaining cases (32.2% or 1,524 people) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. because petitions have been withdrawn).
Press statement BMI 06.06.04

May 2004

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