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efms Migration Report

May 1999

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New citizenship law comes into effect on January 1, 2000

On May 21, 1999, the Bundesrat ratifies the citizenship law reform which had been passed with a broad majority of the coalition parties and the FDP in the Bundestag on May 7. The so-called "option model" takes effect on January 1, 2000. Children born in Germany of foreign parents" will acquire German nationality in addition to their parents nationality via the ius soli, but will be required to decide which citizenship they wish to retain by the age of 23; the waiting period required for naturalization will be reduced to 5 respectively 8 years. Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily emphasizes that this reform brings German citizenship law up to European standards while at the same time strengthening social peace. CDU/CSU politicians, on the other hand, announce that their parties would revise the law if they had a majority since the five million signatures collected to protest against the law demonstrated that the majority of the population was against the law. CDU/CSU politicians are also considering lodging a complaint about infringement of the constitution.
FAZ 22.5.99 // dpa 30.5.99

Admission of 10,000 additional Kosovar refugees in Germany

The Federal Government and the Länder agree on May 6 to admit 10,000 more Kosovar refugees from camps in Macedonia, bringing the number of displaced Kosovars granted refuge in Germany to 20,000. The Länder ruled by the CDU/CSU had long rejected the new contingent with the argument that other EU states had not fulfilled pledges to admit refugees. According to the Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees (BAFl), the residence toleration given to the refugees precludes access to the asylum procedure. In the appeal of a Kosovar Albanian asylum seeker, the High Administrative Court (OVG) in Düsseldorf rules that the Albanians living in Kosovo are subject to constant group persecution.
dpa 2.5.99 // FR 4.5.99 // BMI Press Announcement 6.5.99

Deportations limited after the death of a Sudanese

A rejected asylum seeker from Sudan died in an airplane on May 28 while being deported. Because the man had resisted, Federal Border Guard officials had bound him and forced his head down. After the incident, Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily suspends all deportations which can be expected to involve violent resistance by the deportee. CDU/CSU politicians criticize this decision which they say will turn legal rulings into a farce. The UNHCR and the refugee organization Pro Asyl demand that deportations take place under humane conditions and that the rights of the deportees be respected.
FR 31.5.99 // FAZ 31.5.99 // dpa 31.5.99 // dpa 1.6.99

Algerian deportees to be accompanied by Algerian police officers

Germany and Algeria have agreed to implement the deportation treaty signed in February 1997, according to which Algerian security officers would meet deportees at the German airport and accompany them on their flight to their home country. Two police officers are to be responsible for a maximum of five deportees per flight. The Federal Interior Ministry had decided on this arrangement in February 1997 because of the "constantly increasing number of violent deportees". Refugee groups are appealing to the ministry to stop "being chummy with a state which persecutes its citizens".
Freitag 28.5.99 // FR 1.6.99

Administrative Court: threat of circumcision in native country does not establish legal claim for asylum

The Administrative Court in Trier denies the right of political asylum to a Nigerian family which had asserted that their two-year-old daughter was threatened with genital circumcision in the family"s country of origin. The judges declare that only if the Nigerian State itself was an actor in mutilations could there be a right to asylum; the Nigerian government, however, was conducting information campaigns against circumcision. The judges argued that the state could not be expected to provide complete protection from circumcision carried out by third parties and that the family had the option of changing their place of residence in order to avoid extreme danger.
FAZ 5.5.99 // Welt 6.5.99

Federal Office for Refugees: training for decision-makers in gender-specific persecution cases

Special training in psychological aspects of dealing with victims of gender-specific persecution will be offered to female employees of the Federal Office for Refugees (BAFl) in charge of deciding such cases. In the future all BAFl branch offices will have contact persons for women who claim that they have been gender-specifically persecuted. The BAFl asserts that the sensitivity of their employees toward women"s reports of sexual violence has greatly increased.
NN 20.5.99

Schleswig-Holstein to enlarge migrant counseling services

The Land of Schleswig-Holstein wants to reorganize and improve its counseling services for immigrants. If the local governments and the welfare organizations which are largely responsible for these services agree, comprehensive counseling services could soon be provided for migrants. At present, Schleswig-Holstein annually spends 1.3 Mio. DM on migrant counseling and 3.5 Mio. DM on integration projects such as language courses.
dpa 3.5.99

EU Commission: discrimination against foreigners in European Elections in Germany

The Federal Interior Ministry confirms that two years ago the EU Commission accused the formal federal government of disregarding the European election guidelines. In Germany, as opposed to other EU states, EU citizens must register before each election since their data are deleted from the election registry after elections. According to the commission, this practice constitutes a case of discrimination. The Federal Interior Ministry believes it is feasible to change election law before the European elections in 2004.
FR 28.5.99

Aussiedler statistics

In May 6,542 persons registered as Aussiedler (ethnic German immigrants). This was distinctly fewer than the 8,338 persons who had registered in May 1998. The Federal Government continues to expect a total of 100,000 Aussiedler for 1999.
BMI Press Announcement 3.6.99

Asylum statistics

The number of persons applying for political asylum in May was 6,911, which is 6.5% more than in the previous month. The increase is mainly due to the Kosovo conflict. Applications by Yugoslavian nationals, of which nearly 80% were Kosovar Albanians, increased by one third. The rate of approval in completes cases was 4.0%.
BMI Press Announcement 6.6.99

May 1999

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