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efms Migration Report

September 2002

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Germany and Yugoslavia sign readmission agreement

Following talks on intensifying bilateral co-operation in migration policy and police matters, German Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) and his Yugoslav counterpart Zoran ivkovic have signed a bilateral agreement guaranteeing that both countries readmit nationals that have entered Germany via Yugoslavia or vice versa, and are legally obliged to leave the respective country.

Under the agreement, the German authorities will have the possibility to expel migrants that have migrated to Germany via Yugoslavia illegally, even if the persons concerned are third-country nationals or stateless persons. The agreement replaces earlier arrangements under which Yugoslavia was obliged to readmit Yugoslav nationals only. In order to take effect as of 1st November 2002, the agreement has still to be ratified by the parliament of Yugoslavia. In a statement, Mr. Schily has called the agreement "an important contribution to fighting illegal migration from the Balkans." In addition, it would accelerate deportation procedures considerably.
Press Statement BMI 16.09.02

Immigration debate is heating up in the run-up to federal elections

Whereas immigration has not been a major topic in the early stages of the federal election campaign, Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein (CSU) and Saarland Premier Peter Müller (CDU) have now, less than one week before the elections, presented their joint proposals for amending federal immigration law (cf. August 2002), thus moving immigration back to the centre of the political agenda.

In a statement, the two politicians have once again emphasised the CDU/CSU's main points of criticism, arguing that the current law would allow net immigration inflows of approximately 100,000 more migrants per year. According to Mr. Beckstein, the red-green government "aims at converting Germany into a modern, multi-cultural immigration society - exactly the opposite of what we want." He has rejected claims that CDU/CSU have changed their election campaign strategy in response to declining support in pre-elections polls. Mr. Beckstein has stated that even though immigration continues to be an important topic, the main issue remains to be the job market.

Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has accused the opposition parties of fuelling unfounded fears of new immigration waves, and has reminded the CDU/CSU that the parties' position on immigration has led to their increasing isolation in the public debate. Similar criticism has been brought forward by Gert Landsberg, first secretary of the Association of Local Authorities (Städte- und Gemeindebund), the Intercultural Council in Germany, and Marieluise Beck, the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreign Resident Affairs.
Press Release by the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreign Resident Affairs 16.09.02 // dpa 16.09.02 // FAZ 17.09.02 // FR 17.09.02 // SZ 17.09.02 // NN 18.09.02

Federal Interior Minister Schily appoints members of Migration Council

Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has presented the first four members of the Expert Council on Migration and Integration. Apart from Rita Süßmuth, who will act as the chairwoman of the panel, other members will include Klaus Bade, director of the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies, Gerd Landsberg, who represents the German Association of Local Authorities, and Gert Wagner, director of research at the German Institute for Economic Research. The remaining three seats on the council are to be allocated to one representative each of the German Trade Union Association, the German Employers' Association and the Conference of State Interior Ministers.

In appointing these members, Mr. Schily is carrying out the guidelines of the new migration law, which calls for the establishment of an expert panel for migration matters. The council, which is subject to governmental directives, will be incorporated into the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). According to the new migration law, the panel's main duty will be to "regularly evaluate the current national capacity for migration inflows and integration, and report on the latest developments concerning migration in- and outflows" (§76, Par.1 ZuwG). The Federal Interior Ministry has stated that these annual reports by the Migration Council will constitute an improved basis for regulating migration flows.
Press Statement BMI 16.09.02 // FR 17.09.02 // SZ 17.09.02

Bavaria opens first "repatriation centre" for rejected asylum seekers

Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein (CSU) has opened Bavaria's first repatriation centre for rejected asylum applicants, a major new feature of the "integrated concept for terminating the residence of foreign nationals that are legally obliged to leave the country" (Inka). According to Mr. Beckstein, rejected asylum seekers who cannot be deported to their country of origin due to missing identity documents will in future have to take residence in these centres for an indefinite period, thus allowing authorities to "intensify measures for establishing their identity and nationality". Regular interviews are to be carried out in order to establish foreign nationals' country of origin and prepare the return to their home countries.

Although Mr. Beckstein has emphasised that the centres do not constitute a "preliminary stage of deportation detention", and that the legal basis for establishing such repatriation centres has been created by the new migration law (§61), his move has been criticised by refugee organisations and the Greens. Elisabeth Köhler, the Greens' Bavarian parliamentary spokeswoman for migration policy, has reproached the interior minister, as in her view the primary goal of these "deportation camps" is to "exert additional psychological pressure on refugees". Mrs. Köhler has added that similar pilot schemes in other federal states, e.g. Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate, have shown that this increased pressure has pushed many refugees into illegality.

Of the 22 foreign nationals who have been called upon by the authorities to take residence in the repatriation centre in Fürth, only three have actually shown up so far; a further three have lodged urgent appeals with administrative courts in order to overturn the residence order.
Press Statement Pro Asyl 09.09.02 // FAZ 10.09.02 // FR 10.09.02 // SZ 10.09.02 // dpa 17.09.02 // NZ 19.09.02

Federal Interior Minister bans further subdivisions of the "Caliph State"

After banning the radical Islamistic organisation "Caliph State" in December 2001 on account of violations against Germany's constitutional order and endangering national security, Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has banned and disbanded 16 further subdivisions of the organisation in September 2002. The groups concerned have for quite some time been suspected of being subdivisions of the banned organisation of Metin Kaplan, the self-appointed "Caliph of Cologne", but up to now, according to Mr. Schily, there had not been sufficient evidence for justifying a ban.

Metin Kaplan received a four-year prison sentence in 1999 for inciting the murder of one his rivals. The Federal Ministry of Justice is currently reviewing a request by the government of Turkey to extradite Kaplan, following the decision by the Turkish parliament in August to officially abolish the death penalty in Turkey (in times of peace). Even though the Federal Ministry of Justice has expressed doubts as to the "de-facto validity" of the abolition, Mr. Schily has expressed the view that the chances of extraditing Kaplan to Turkey are "very good".
Press Statement BMI 19.09.02 // taz 20.09.02 // Welt am Sonntag 29.09.02

Decrease in public expenses for asylum applicants and falling number of non-German welfare recipients

Public expenses for asylum applicants (according to the Law on Public Assistance for Asylum Applicants: Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz) decreased by 12% in 2001, compared to the previous year. According to Interior Ministry statistics, public expenses under the Asylbewerberleistungs-gesetz have fallen by as much as 23.7% since the red-green government coalition took power in 1998. This drop is in line with the development of asylum application figures, which have fallen by approximately 20% since 1998.

In addition, Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD) has also published figures on foreign residents receiving regular welfare payments under the Federal Law on Public Assistance (Bundessozialhilfegesetz). According to Mr. Schily, respective figures have fallen by 9.5% since 1998.
Press Statement BMI 19.09.02 // BZ 20.09.02 // FAZ 20.09.02

Asylum statistics

In September 2002, a total of 6,289 persons have submitted petitions for political asylum in Germany, an increase by 506 over the previous month, but a significant decrease by 21.4% (- 1,714 persons) over September 2001. These figures provide further proof of the downward trend in asylum applications. During the first nine months of 2002, for example, 11,574 fewer asylum applicants (-17.8%) have been registered, compared to the same period of the previous year.

Similar to the previous month, the main countries of origin remain to be Iraq (1,000), Turkey (779) and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (482), followed by Bulgaria and the Russian Federation (273). The most striking fact has been the increase in the number of asylum applicants from Bulgaria, which have skyrocketed from only 4 in July to 63 in August and as much as 400 in September.

In September 2002, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees has passed decisions on the asylum applications of 11,094 persons. 1.6% (159) of them have been recognised as entitled to political asylum. An additional 2.3% (230 persons) have been recognised as protected against deportation according to §51 Par.1 Aliens Act. The applications of 6,201 persons (61.4%) have been rejected. The remaining 34.7% of cases have been closed for other reasons (e.g. when proceedings were closed or applicants withdrew their petitions).
Press Statement BMI 04.10.02

September 2002

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