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efms Migration Report


October 2007

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OSCE demands more dedicated actions against Islamophobia

Under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) an international conference was held in the Spanish city of Córdoba on 9 and 10 October 2007 on the topic "Intolerance and discrimination of Muslims in the western world" whose aim was to prepare proposals and to find means for combating discriminating actions against Muslims. According to the chairman of the OSCE, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, both national and international surveys have revealed that Islamophobic positions have become clearly more widespread especially after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Both in their working environment and in the educational sector Muslims would increasingly meet with refusal. Amr Mussa, Secretary-general of the Arabic League, considered the conference an important initiative against the background of having to find a way of how to transfer the tolerance towards Muslims noticeable at the conference to the societies in general.
KNA 09.10.07

Pro Asyl/amnesty international: EU border maritime patrols constitute an infringement of international law

Pro Asyl and amnesty international accuse the European border patrols of the EU Member States of "catching" African refugees who try to reach Europe by boat in order to subsequently "push" them back to the African mainland. Refugees, however, should not be sent back to the African continent and rather be brought to Europe. This is the claim of Pro Asyl and amnesty international on the occasion of the international Refugee Day taking place on 3 October 2007. Their demands are based on a report of two experts on refugee law from Frankfurt, according to which the returning of refugees to the country where persecution takes place would constitute an infringement of the Geneva Refugee Convention and other international treaties. According to the opinion of the Federal Government, the so-called non-refoulment-ban would be only applicable in European costal waters but not on open sea. (This ban is a principle based on international law, which limits the rights of states within the international custom in exercising their sovereignty when refusing refugees at their borders in any form, when declining to grant them asylum or other forms of protection and to oblige them to leave their own territory. In concrete, it refers to the ban of bringing persons forcibly to a state where they would be subjected to persecution as refugees or to torture, inhuman treatment or other severe human rights infringements) Contrary to this, the experts are of the opinion that the Convention would be applicable as soon as a refugee is under control of official entities or he/she becomes subject of actions of the latter. Accordingly, it would not matter where the border guards went on patrol.
taz online 27.09.07 // www.asylum-online.at

International study: Germany occupies only mediocre place in immigration policy

In a comparative study of the British Council and the Migration Policy Group (MPG) on the immigration policies in the 25 EU Member States, in Switzerland, Norway and Canada, which was published in Brussels on 15 October 2007, Germany could only reach a ranking in the midfield. Particularly in the areas of the right to vote and in labour law, third-country nationals would be disadvantaged in Germany. Regarding the requirements to obtain residence rights for the longer term and in the nationalisation law, Germany did not manage to occupy a position above the lower third of the state ranking, according to the study"s findings. In the overall list, Sweden is on the first rank with 88 of a maximum of 100 points, followed by Portugal (79 points), Belgium (69 points), the Netherlands (68 points), Finland (67 points), Italy (65 points), Great Britain (63 points), France (55 points) and, finally, Germany with 53 points. At the bottom of the ranking are Austria and Cyprus with 39 points each, followed by Lithuania with 30 points. With 50 points, Switzerland remained below the 53-points average of the 25 EU Member States (excluding Bulgaria and Romania). MPG director Jan Niessen said that the study would be aimed at showing good practice examples in the immigration and integration policies by comparing the legal situations in the corresponding states.
Kölnische Rundschau online 15.10.07 // Handelsblatt 16.10.07

International study: Immigration seen sceptically worldwide

According to an international study of the US-based opinion research institute "Pew Research Center", the societies in the countries of destination but also in the countries of origin have a sceptical standpoint towards immigration. The study, which was conducted in 47 states, reveals an increase in the fear of the 45,000 respondents to suffer a cultural and national identity loss. With the exception of South Korea and the Palestine autonomous areas, therefore the majority (of up to 90 per cent) of the respondents is in favour of a stricter limitation of immigration. Pew president Andrew Kohut said that in many parts of the world immigration would be considered to be destabilising. According to the study, especially the people in Africa and Turkey would be concerned about the labour market situation. In Germany, however, the portion of one third of those in favour of immigration would be relatively high. A study of the "Society of structural institutions in social science" (Gesellschaft Sozialwissenschaftlicher Struktureinrichtungen - "Gesis"), even claims to have established an increase in the acceptance of immigrants in Germany over the past decades. This finding, according to the study, would be backed by the decrease in the approval shown to discriminating statements on foreigners since 1980.
KNA 05.10.07 // Neues Volksblatt 06.10.07 // SZ 10.10.07

Israeli government to support Jewish quota refugees in Germany

Against the background of the conflicts in the Jewish communities in Germany between established Jews and those who immigrated from the former Soviet Union, the Israeli government wants to send now two members of the organisation "Nativ" to Germany to support the immigrants - most of them from Russia and the Ukraine - in their relation to the Jewish culture. This is important as many of the 220,000 Jews who have immigrated since 1991 had hardly any contact to the German Jewish community due to the tensions within the communities between eastern and western Jews by which Jewish communities throughout Germany are threatened by being split up. The Central Council of the Jews in Germany considers the planned visit of the Nativ employees to be an attack. Even though Stephan Kramer, Secretary-general of the Central Council, admits that the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union is a story coined by conflicts, he considers the initiative of the Israeli government without prior information to the Central Council as an expression of mistrust and as personally insulting. In reply, a representative of Nativ said in Tel Aviv that the activities of Nativ would be the same as those of the German Goethe Institute. From Berlin, it is planned to organise exchange programmes for youths, to establish Sunday schools and to offer information events on Israel. The aim would be rather to bring the Jewish culture and the Holy Land closer to the people in Germany and not to promote immigration to Israel. Dieter Graumann, Vice-president of the Central Council of the Jews, said that there were repeated warnings against the establishment of dubious structures in parallel to the traditional institutions of the Jewish community. Initial tendencies towards this direction showed that the "poison of division" could be carried into the community, said Graumann.
Der Spiegel 01.10.07 // Jüdische Allgemeine 04.10.07

Debate on right on voting on municipal level for non-EU citizens inflamed again

The demands of several political parties such as the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party as well as of the governments of the federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Berlin to introduce the right of voting on municipal level for non-EU citizens meets with the CDU"s disapproval. The president of Rhineland-Palatinate, Kurt Beck (SPD), said that those seriously wanting foreigners from third countries to be integrated also needed to offer them the right to vote on municipal level and added that Germany was running the risk to become the backlight in the area of integration. The Vice-president of the Federal Parliament, Petra Pau (Left Party), said that in the area of voting rights Germany would be a developing country in Europe against the background that as many as 16 EU Member States would already have introduced voting rights on municipal level for third-country nationals. With its motion, the Left Party wanted to trigger off a debate overdue for a long time, said Pau. Representatives of the Union parties, however, refused the demands: Hans Peter Uhl, member of the CDU/CSU group in the Federal Parliament, considered the plans to be absurd arguing that the active and passive right of voting in Germany needed to be reserved to German nationals. Also the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), said she considered the proposal as difficult in legal terms and politically controversial. The Greens, the Left Party and the two federal states have already introduced a draft bill on the introduction of the right to vote on municipal level to the Federal Parliament.
BZ 29.09.07 // BZ 24.10.07

Government and foundations want strategic partnership on integration

On the occasion of a symposium of the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), under the motto "Integration through education in the 21st century - a challenge for private-public-partnerships" held in Berlin on 16 October 2007, discussions were held about how foundations could cooperate both with each other and with official authorities in areas of education and how they could achieve a broader impact going beyond the cooperation in specific projects. The conference was attended by representatives of German foundations and of other OECD countries such as Canada or Sweden to exchange experiences of foundation initiatives and public-private partnerships. Bernhard Lorentz, managing director of the Vodafone foundation said on the issue that the state could provide for the framework conditions needed for a successful integration. However, it would not be able to cope with this Herculean task alone. Foundations as part of the civil society would therefore be in charge of making a contribution to a successful integration through education. With a view to the overall support funds made available by German foundations in the amount of seven billion euros in 2006, Böhmer said that every euro invested in integration measures would return a maximum yield for the society.
FAZ 15.10.07 // Press release of the Commissioner of the Federal Government for Migration, Refugees and Integration 17.10.07

Measures against forced marriages

Politicians on federal and on state level have taken stronger measures to combat forced marriages: accordingly, the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), and the Integration Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet (CDU), contribute funds to projects for the online counselling of girls and boys who are threatened by forced marriages. Moreover, Laschet wants to employ a 10-points-action plan to improve the information at schools by addressing the topic of forced marriages within the Islamic instruction classes, for instance. The aim would be to inform the girls as soon as possible, said Laschet. Besides, the predominately female victims would be supported through initiatives supported by the federal state such as women"s refuges, emergency call numbers and counselling centres. The opposition party of the Greens in the state parliament, however, considers the measure to be half-hearted, and added that instead of offering threatened persons protection, the state government would have cut funds to finance the last remaining women"s refuge, the girls" refuge in the city of Bielefeld. The new spokesman of the Muslim Coordination Council (KRM), Bekir Alboga, also expressed himself against forced marriages and so-called honour murders considering them as acts which would erroneously be justified by Islamic principles. In the course of time, the divine principle of not using force in exercising a religion would have been distorted, neglected and misused, which, however, would not change anything of the principle"s universal nature still being true.
KNA 05.10.07 // Spiegel online 08.10.07 // KNA 09.10.07

Berlin: local SPD politicians demand new integration policy

A new "Paper on basic principles for a successful integration of immigrants" has triggered off a debate on alterations in the integration policy among the members of Berlin"s SPD section. In this paper, six politicians from the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district of Berlin, of whom two are members of the Chamber of Deputies, demand that the majority society needs to make stronger efforts in approaching immigrants. One of the authors, the SPD integration expert Badr Mohammed said that the people needed to overcome the image that Germans would only eat boiled knuckle of pork served with sauerkraut and that they would never have a different cultural background. According to the paper, the aim needed to be to make immigrants a part of the German society without the demand that they had to give up completely their own identity. On the other hand, German language skills needed to be supported comprehensively and the migrants needed to understand that they were German citizens.
Die Welt online 07.10.07 // Die Welt online 14.10.07

Administrative Court: City of Rastatt must open classrooms for native language lessons

The Administrative Court of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg (VGH) has set aside the "classroom ban" for lessons taught in the native language of immigrant children, which had been introduced by the local city council of Rastatt. The local city council of Rastatt justified the ban arguing that native language lessons would be an obstacle to integration. The independent Lord Mayor Klaus-Eckhardt Walter, already voted out of office but still acting in official capacity, is of the opinion that lessons taught in the children"s native language conserves the children"s mystic image of their countries of origin and does not contribute to the integration into the local society. According to the opinion of the VGH, the municipalities would not have the right to ignore the guidelines of the federal state"s cultural administration on school and integration policies when allocating classrooms. The latter has expressed itself in favour of the so-called "consulate lessons". The future Lord Mayor of Rastatt, Hans Jürgen Pütsch (CDU) welcomed the VGH decision. If immigrants were to be won for the German culture, also the Germans needed to accept the cultures of the immigrants. This, however, should not be understood as a kind of licence for migrants to teach what they wanted. The municipalities needed to have a say in these matters, too, said Pütsch.
Mannheimer Morgenpost online 20.10.07 // Press release of VGH Baden-Württemberg 19.10.07

Asylum statistics

In October 2007, a total of 1,922 persons have applied for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes an increase of 8.5 per cent (+151 persons) over the month before. Compared to October 2006, the number of asylum applicants has increased by 4.3 per cent (+80 persons). In October, the main countries of origin were Iraq (609), Serbia (190), Turkey (132) and Syria (71) followed by Vietnam (68). In this month, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decided on 2,190 asylum applications. Twenty-four persons (1.1 per cent) were recognised as being entitled to political asylum. Another 780 persons (35.6 per cent) were granted protection against deportation according to § 60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 745 persons (34.0 per cent) were rejected. The cases of a further 561 persons (25.6 per cent) have been closed for other reasons (e.g. because applicants" withdrawal of their petitions).
Press release of BMI 08.11.07


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