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efms Migration Report

January 2006

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EU Home Affairs Ministers striving for common European asylum policy

On the occasion of their first informal meeting held under the Austrian EU presidency on 13 and 14 January 2006, the European Justice and Home Affairs Ministers reached a broad consensus on asylum and migration issues. In the long term, common EU country reports addressing the potential existence of political persecution of refugees in their countries of origin are to be introduced. As early as by the end of January, the EU Commission plans to provide the Member States with a list of so-called safe third countries, to which asylum seekers may be returned without any further examination of their cases. A common information system is to allow an assessment of the threats refugees are facing in their countries of origin. Moreover, EU will in future support the Member States in the areas of asylum/migration with expert teams, which are in need of assistance in special circumstances. In addition, it is planned to develop pilot projects on "Protection in the regions", which are to be implemented as early as in the first half of 2006 for refugees in Tanzania, the Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.
Handelsblatt 12.01.06 // Press circular of the Austrian EU presidency 13.01.06 // FR 14.01.06 // Die Welt 14.01.2006 // SZ 14.01.06 // FAZ 14.01.06

Controversial debate on interview guide for naturalisation applicants

On 1 January 2006, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg introduced an interview guide for naturalisation applicants of 57 Islamic states. The 30 questions - addressing topics like the applicants" personal opinion on homosexuality or on equal rights of men and women - are aimed at testing the loyalty to the constitution. In its reasoning for the use of the questionnaire, the Ministry of the Interior said that "there were doubts as whether the declaration of belief in the German constitution of Muslims corresponds in general to their personal attitudes and values" (Press release of the Ministry of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg dated 14 December 2005). The ordinance was sharply criticised by Turkish and Islamic associations, by the opposition parties in the local parliament, SPD and Greens, as well as by some politicians of the governing CDU, arguing that the questionnaire was discriminating and would not make any sense at all. It would fuel general suspicions against Muslims and destroyed the climate of trust. The Lord Mayor of Heidelberg said that in her city authorities would not use the interview guide due to doubts as whether it was in accordance with the German Basic Law. The Professional Association of German Psychologists criticised that the questionnaire would not allow drawing any practical conclusions on the actual willingness of the applicants to integrate into German society. Following these critics and due to the insistence of the coalition partner FDP, the Ministry of the Interior has subsequently introduced one amendment, i.e. the questionnaire will be in future employed not only for Muslims, but for all naturalisation applicants, whose loyalty to the German Basic Law is doubted. Among those who are backing the use of the interview guide are the Federal Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), and the Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU). The federal states governed by SPD and the North Rhine-Westphalian Integration Minister, Armin Laschet (CDU), have generally refused the use of an interview guide as used in Baden-Württemberg. The federal state of Hesse, however, now also plans to introduce a list of "general principles of knowledge and values" to test the attitude of naturalisation applicants towards the German Basic Law.
Press release of the Ministry of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg 14.12.05 // FR 03.01.06 // SZ 03.01.06 // FAZ 05.01.06 // taz (online) 05.01.06 // FAZ (online) 05.01.06 // Welt am Sonntag 08.01.06 // FAZ 10.01.06 // SZ 09.01.06 // taz 11.01.06 // FR 11.01.06 // dpa 11.01.06 // SZ 12.01.06 // SZ 13.01.06 // FAZ 14.01.06 // Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung 15.01.06 // SZ 17.01.06 // Press release of the city of Heidelberg 20.01.06 // Press release of the Ministry of the Interior and Physical Education of Hesse 30.01.06

Federal Ministry of the Interior plans tightening of the Foreigners" Law

The Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI in its German abbreviation) has presented a 260-pages bill to implement eleven EU directives on the harmonisation of the foreigners" and asylum laws within the Community and to tackle forced marriages, prostitution and human trafficking. The bill is to be agreed about by the federal government by the end of March and scheduled to enter into force before the parliamentary summer recess. The provisions foreseen include that spouses of foreign nationals living in Germany may be granted residence permits only after having reached the age of 21. In case of fictitious marriages, no residence permits will be granted to avoid misuses leading to forced prostitution. In addition, every foreign national is to provide "upon request" a digital photograph, which might be kept on file at the Central Register of Foreigners. In the long run, this could allow the police and justice authorities getting access to up to 30 million photographs. The coalition partner SPD, the opposition parties and by representatives of the Turkish community disapproved these plans. The main point of criticism was that the age limit set at 21 years for the subsequent immigration of spouses would constitute an infringement of the German Basic Law. Already in last December, the Green party in the federal parliament had proposed a motion against the bill, by which they claim - with the support of Amnesty International - to improve the legal protection of victims of forced marriages and to disconnect the granting of residence permits from the continuance of a marriage.
Welt am Sonntag 08.01.06 // Die Welt 08.01.06 // SZ 09.01.06 // BZ 09.01.06 // FR 09.01.06 // BZ 10.01.06 // FAZ 11.01.06

Berlin: Intermediate school triggers off involuntarily a debate on basic principles of integration policy

More than 90 per cent of the 370 pupils of the Hoover-Oberschule (grammar school) in Berlin, do not speak German as their mother tongue. Therefore, pupils, parents and teachers agreed at an internal school conference consisting of equal numbers of representatives, which was held one and half year ago, to officially declare German as common "lingua franca". It was said that good German language skills would be essential for school leavers" chances to find employment. The agreement on using German as official and compulsory language at the school including breaks, days to go rambling and class outings was emphasised in a "parents" circular" and the new school regulation was signed by all pupils. Since that time, the school has registered "the largest number of new pupils in the central district of Berlin", said the headmistress, Ms. Steinkamp and added that this attraction was also due to the extension of German language lessons for small groups from four to six hours per week. Also the Borsig-Realschule (intermediary school) in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin (with a proportion of foreigners of 86 per cent) has made the use of German during the school breaks compulsory. On the one hand, the foreign language ban is backed by all political parties; on the other hand there are also politicians from among almost all parties criticising it. The Integration Commissioner of the Federal Government, Maria Böhmer (CDU), the vice-president of the German parliament, Wolfgang Thierse (SPD), the Senator for Schools of Berlin, Klaus Böger (SPD), the politician Reinhard Büttikofer (Greens), the Centre for Turkish Studies, the Islamic Council and the Central Council of Muslims in Germany are in favour of such voluntary agreements at schools. However, the agreements are criticised by the Association for Education (VBE), the Union of Person Employed in Education and Science (GEW), the Integration Commissioner of Berlin, Günter Piening (Greens), the Turkish Association of Berlin-Brandenburg (TBB), the Federation of Turkish Parents" Associations in Germany and the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, arguing that the main problem would be that the compulsory use of the German language would be discriminating and that it would be extremely difficult to supervise such provision in daily life.
Der Tagesspiegel (online) 23.01.06 // FR 23.01.06 // taz 25.01.06 // FR 25.01.06 // BZ (online) 25.01.06 // taz 26.01.06 // Die Welt 26.01.06 // FAZ 26.01.06 // Die Welt (online) 26.01.06 // NN 27.01.06 // FR 27.01.06 // FAZ 31.01.06

North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony plan to introduce Islamic instruction classes

As first federal state in Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) plans to introduce at its schools Islamic instruction classes throughout the federal state. In this context, Integration Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) has urged the Islamic organisations in North Rhine-Westphalia to establish a democratically constituted representation body of Muslims that could serve as a contact point for the local government. The prime minister of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulf (CDU), supports the introduction of this school subject in other federal states as well. In addition, he plans to extend a pilot project on Islamic instruction classes at 19 primary schools, which has been running since 2003 in Lower Saxony. According to Wulf, it would be important that the instruction classes were taught "in German language by teachers trained in Germany, and on the basis of curricula prepared by official state authorities" and that they "imparted the peaceful messages contained in the Coran".Hamburger Abendblatt (online) 18.01.06 // Aachener Zeitung (online) 27.01.06 //Focus 30.01.06

Saxony-Anhalt: Increasing number of right-wing extremist attacks

Since the beginning of the year, eight right-wing extremist attacks have been reported in Saxony-Anhalt within eleven days only. A twelve-year-old boy was the victim of a brutal mistreatment in Pömmelte, near Magdeburg: Five neo-Nazis in the age between 14 and 19 years thrashed the boy of Ethiopia origin on 9 January 2006 at a bus stop, extinguished a cigarette in his face and forced him to lick their boots. The Mobile Advisory Centre for Victims of right-wing extremist violence in Magdeburg criticises that the courts would treat the violent criminals too friendly. Due to this reason and because of the success of the right-wing parties of DVU and NPD at the regional elections in the federal states of Brandenburg and Saxony, the number of offences with a right-wing background - ranging from desecrations of memorials to attacks - had risen in Saxony-Anhalt in 2005 to a total of 73.
FR 13.01.06 // Der Spiegel 16.01.06 // FR 18.01.06

Berlin: Debate about young policemen with migration background

It is quite a while ago that Berlin"s Senator of the Interior, Ehrhard Körting (SPD), has announced to foster more intensively the vocational training of policemen and women of non-German origin, to gain a better access particularly to groups of migrants living in problem districts of Berlin. Now, the Police Union (GdP) is sharply reproaching the Senate of Berlin for acting in an unlawful and unconstitutional way by requiring persons with a migration background to fulfil lower standards than German applicants in the examination and recruitment procedures. While the parties of CDU and FDP share this point of view, the chairman of the Greens in the Senate, Volker Ratzmann, is defending the provisions, arguing that it would not be unlawful at all to compensate educational weaknesses of applicants with a migration background by offering dedicated measures to overcome them.
Die Welt 27.01.06 // Berliner Morgenpost (online) 28.01.06

Berlin: First home for elderly exclusively for citizens of Turkish origin

By the end of 2006, the first nursing home for elderly people throughout Germany exclusively open to senior citizens of Turkish origin will be opened in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. The home with room for 171 persons will be jointly run by the Marseille-Klinik AG and the Turkish Community of Berlin. The home"s concept takes into consideration specific needs of the future inmates, e.g. the language spoken, the meals and the cultural offerings will be mainly Turkish. In addition, the personal hygiene of the elderly will be provided by staff of the same sex only and the attention given to the senior citizens will be more intensive than in German homes for elderly.
Welt am Sonntag 15.01.06 // BZ 19.01.06

Berlin: New brochure about the topic of "Islamism"

On 25 January 2006, the Senator of the Interior, Ehrhard Körting (SPD), presented a information brochure of 40 pages on the topic of Islamism. The overview given of nine Islamistic organisations that are active also in Berlin is followed by an introduction to the history of Islam and information on Islamism as an extremist deviation of it. Islam, Islamism and fundamentalism would often be confused and Islamic organisations be considered as terrorist groups. This would give rise to wrong concepts of an enemy, said Körting.
taz 26.01.06 // Die Welt (online) 26.01.06

Munich: Judgement in terror trial against Amin Lokman Mohammed

In the first trial for membership in a foreign terrorist organisation held in Germany, the 6th Criminal Division with the Higher Regional Court (OLG) of Munich sentenced on 12 January 2006 the Iraqi national Lokman Mohammed to seven years of prison. The Court found the 33-year-old defendant guilty of membership in the terrorist group Ansar al Islam which is active in Iraq. He was convicted for recruiting "warriors of God" in Germany and for procuring money and materials. Moreover, he was active as professional human trafficker bringing Iraqi nationals to Europe and "earned pretty much money" with this activity.Die Welt 13.01.06 //FAZ 13.01.06

ECJ: German issue of visas infringes the freedom to provide services

So far, companies offering services in Germany have been obliged to apply for visas to be issued to their employees from non-member States. Moreover, the employees are required to have been employed for a minimum of one year by the company. The Commission considers this an obstruction of the freedom to provide services and opened a proceeding for the violation of treaties in 2004. With its judgement of 19 January 2006, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) supports this position: The practice of the German authorities would go far beyond of what was necessary to avoid misuses, the circumvention of the freedom to provide services and the protection of employees. It would be sufficient to provide in advance a simple declaration about the stay, a work permit and evidence on the existence of a social insurance for the employee.
Press release of ECJ dated 19.01.06 // SZ 20.01.06 // FTD 20.01.06

Inflow of ethnic German repatriates keeps falling in 2005

In 2005, 35,522 ethnic German repatriates (the so-called "Spätaussiedler") and dependants of them came to Germany, which is almost 40 per cent below the figures of 2004 (59,093 persons). This marks a further decline in the number of ethnic German repatriates coming to Germany. Moreover, many applicants and dependants would no longer possess the language skills required for being admitted as "Spätaussiedler". Of the 1,468 persons who were invited to take a language test in 2005, only 871 persons showed up. Of these, not quite 25 per cent (216 persons) passed the test.
Press release BMI of 10.01.06

Asylum statistics

In January 2006, a total of 1,969 persons have submitted a petition for political asylum in Germany. The figure constitutes a decrease of 6.1 per cent (-128 persons) compared to December 2005. Compared to January 2005, the number of asylum seekers has declined by 15.8 per cent (-369 persons). The main countries of origin in January 2006 were Serbia and Montenegro (359), Turkey (179) and Iraq (170) followed by the Russian Federation (109) and Vietnam (77). In January 2006, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has reviewed the applications of 3,507 asylum seekers, 31 (0.9 per cent) of whom have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. A further 90 persons (2.6 per cent) have been granted protection against deportation according to §60, paragraph 1, Residence Act. The applications of 2,274 people (64.8 per cent) have been rejected. The cases of another 1,112 persons (31.7 per cent) have been closed for other reasons, for example because asylum seekers have withdrawn their applications.
Press release BMI 07.02.06

January 2006

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