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efms Migration Report

September 1997

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Anti-torture committee of the European Council objects to treatment of illegal immigrants

In its yearly report, the Anti-Torture Committe of the European Council has accused Germany of inhumane treatment of aliens in deportation detention. The committee finds it "absolutely unacceptable" that illegal immigrants being deported should be dragged into airplanes. The committee demands that illegal immigrants no longer be detained in police stations or prisons. The 40 member governments of the European Council were urged to establish centers for these foreigners, and to allow them normal contacts to attorneys, relatives and relief organizations.
dpa 2.9.97 // SZ 3.9.97 // taz 3.9.97

Federal administrative court: no asylum rights for overland entries

A refugee entering Germany by a land route does not have the right to asylum. This applies also to refugees brought to Germany through neighboring states in sealed trucks. Elaborating on their decision, the judges explained that all of Germany"s neighboring countries are considered safe third countries and a refugee could find protection from persecuting in any one of them. If a foreigner chooses not to avail himself of this opportunity, he or she forfeits the basic right to asylum.
dpa 2.9.97 // FAZ 3.9.97 // SZ 4.9.97

Niedersachsen: convicted aliens should serve sentences in their native countries

The justice minister of Niedersachsen, Heidi Alm-Merk, advocates deporting convicted aliens without German passports in greater numbers to prisons in their native countries. This would facilitate the planned "Transfer Agreement" of the European Council. According to the presently valid agreement, prisoners have to consent to serve their sentences in their home country. At the urging of Niedersachsen, however, the Justice Minister Conference of the Länder drafted an amendment which would make it possible for convicted aliens to serve their sentences in prisons of their native countries even when this is against the offender"s will.
taz 3.9.97

Special training for hearings of certain asylum-seeker groups

The Federal Office for the Recognition of Alien Refugees is conducting special training for officers who conduct hearings for certain asylum-seeker groups. According to the Federal Office, extraordinary empathy is required in dealing with such groups as persecuted women, unaccompanied juveniles and torture victims. After a pilot project in 1996, 94 special hearing examiners were appointed to assist in hearings. The focus of the training courses which begin this fall is on teaching the participants relevant legal knowledge and on sensitizing them to the situations of particular asylum-seeker groups. The goal is to have at least one specially-trained officer at each branch of the federal office.
dpa 3.9.97 // SZ 4.9.97 // NZ 4.9.97

Beckstein in favor of more equitable distribution of refugee flows

In talks with EU commissioner Ms. Gradin, the interior minister of Bayern, Günter Beckstein, expressed his concern that unrestrained immigration from safe third countries could eventually jeopardize the social-security systems in Germany. He called for distributing new influxes of asylum seekers more equitably and suggested that future EU asylum policies conform to the German system which distributes asylum-seekers evenly among the Länder.
FAZ 5.9.97

Germany ratifies convention on the protection of minority rights

Germany is the tenth member of the European Council to ratify the skeleton convention for the protection of national minorities. This obliges Bonn to protect the national minorities living in Germany from discrimination, preserve their languages and grant them such basic rights as the rights to assemble and to practice the religion of their choice Participation in "economic, cultural and social life" is to be encouraged and "compulsive assimilation" is to be prevented. In Germany Danes, Friesians, Sorbs, Sinti and Roma are recognized as national minorities.
dpa 10.9.97 // Welt 11.9.97

Federal aliens advisory board established

Forty aliens advisory boards from eleven Länder have established a federal board. The federal board represents the political interests of some 400 local aliens boards at the Länder level. Murat Cakir, the chairman of the association of aliens boards in Hessen, was elected as spokesman of the federal board.
dpa 14.9.97 // FR 15.9.97

Unicef opposes German deportation practice

The motto of this year"s World Children"s Day on September 20 was "Children in Flight". The Children"s Relief Organization and an association of 90 non-governmental organizations together with Pro Asyl, a refugee organization, voiced their misgivings about German enforcement of the UN Convention on the Protection of Children. The groups charge that the amendment to the asylum law has brought about a marked deterioration of the situation of unaccompanied refugee children in Germany. Unicef demands that no child be deported unless the child"s care in the country of origin is safeguarded and argues that asylum proceedings must be altered to protect children"s interests. Pro Asyl reminds the government that the primary concern of a democratic state should be the welfare of the child and not the efficacy of deportation practices.
dpa 15.9.97 // FR 15.9.97 // SZ 16.9.97 // NN 16.9.97 // FAZ 16.9.97

Anne Dawson-Shepherd new director of UNHCR agency in Bonn

The new director of the refugee agency of the United Nations (UNHCR) in Bonn is the 49-year-old Anne Dawson-Shepherd, from Great Britain. She succeeds Judith Kumin, who held the position until the end of July. Ms. Dawson-Shepherd has been working for UNHCR for 17 years. Before coming to Bonn she was in charge of basic policy questions at the Geneva headquarters.
dpa 15.9.97

Bayern churches intend to uphold church asylum

Both the Catholic and Evangelical Churches of Bayern have asserted in a joint communqué, that they consider the practice of granting protection to asylum-seekers, who have been rejected and face deportation, to be reasonable. However, church asylum should only be granted in cases where confirmed reports about persecution or legally incorrect treatment make it likely that a positive solution can be found. The churches advocate considering ways to ensure "protected return and further care of people in their native countries".
dpa 15.9.97 // NZ 16.9.97 // NN 16.9.97 // FR 16.9.97 // SZ 16.9.97

High Administrative Court: deliberate offences preclude naturalization

The High Administrative Court of Rheinland-Pfalz in Koblenz has ruled that a foreigner who has been convicted of intentionally committing a crime may not be naturalized. In the view of the court, a foreigner who wishes to be naturalized must submit to the rules valid in Germany. For this reason, a wilfully committed crime is grounds for refusing naturalization.
FAZ 20.9.97

Berlin: Asylum-seekers to shop with chip cards, depots to be closed

Renate Hübner, senator for social affairs in Berlin, has anounced the closure, in October, of both depots where asylum-seekers in Berlin had previously done their shopping. The some 2,300 asylum-seekers in Berlin will receive electronic credit cards which will allow them to shop in several stores and retail chains. According to Hübner, the Senate intends to extend this system later to the 32,000 civil-war refugees living in Berlin. Ms. Hübner attributed the failure of central warehouses to adequately supply provisions to criminal acts committed by asylum-seekers wishing to sabotage the depots.
dpa 23.9.97 // FR 24.9.97 // FAZ 26.9.97

Controversy over absentee ballots for Turks

According to an announcement of the Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, the 1.3 million Turks living in Germany who are eligible to vote may vote by mail in future parliamentary elections. Representatives of the Turkish Commnity in Germany (TGD) welcomed this decision, but fear, as does a spokeswoman of the Green Party, that Germany could become the scene of fierce political campaign confrontations. This, in turn, would have a polarizing effect on the Turkish population of Germany. It was also feared that eligibility to vote in their native country might impede the integration of Turks in Germany.
taz 25.9.97

Bundesrat: local election rights for all aliens living in Germany

The Bundesrat has adopted a bill introduced by the seven SPD-governed Länder which allows all foreigners living in Germany the right to vote in and stand for local elections. Previously, only citizens of EU countries were entitled to vote in local elections. The Bundesrat also spoke out in favor of speedier deportation of criminal aliens.
dpa 7.9.97 // SZ 27.9.97

Federal Administrative Court: entitled to toleration status despite repatriation agreement

The Federal Administrative Court has ruled that aliens who are to be deported but cannot be immediately expelled, are entitled to toleration. This remains true even in the context of a repatriation agreement and regardless of whether or not voluntary return would be possible. In order to carry out deportation, all of the requirements of the repatriation agreement must be met. According to information from officials dealing with foreigners, in Berlin alone 40,000 aliens stand to profit from this decision, especially Vietnamese and Bosnians who, despite existing repatriation agreements cannot yet be deported. The foreign litigants sought to legalize their residence status. Toleration is simply the formal suspension of deportation and is usually limited to from three to six months. The mayor of Berlin, Eberhard Diepgen, protested that "We cannot keep foreigners here, and incur great expense in caring for them simply because their own countries do not wish to have them." He announced that the Bundesrat will respond to the judges" decision in the form of a legislative initiative to abolish the obligation to tolerate foreigners except in cases where foreigners are willing to leave Germany voluntarily. The Commissioner for Foreigners in Berlin, Barbara John has also demanded that Paragraph 55 of the Aliens Law be augmented with the stipulation that tolerance status will not be awarded when the alien does not wish to leave Germany.
dpa 24.9.97 // dpa 25.9.97 // FAZ 26.9.97 // SZ 26.9.97 // taz 27.9.97 // dpa 29.9.97 // taz 30.9.97 // FAZ 30.9.97

Blüm seeks to limit employment of non-EU aliens

Included in a list of measures outlined by the federal minister of labor, Norbert Blüm, are tougher entry requirements for non-EU aliens, a gradual yearly reduction of 20,000 seasonal laborers, and an absolute ban on working for asylum-seekers. Furthermore, the fine for employers who do not pay alien employees the minimal wage will be raised from 100,000 marks to 500,000 marks. The Blüm measures are aimed especially at combatting the abuse of visitors visas. On the one hand, applicants for visas are to be controlled more vigorously and on the other, those persons who obtain three-month visas for friends or relatives with forged papers are to be recorded in a data bank. Julius Louven, the social-political spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group justified the plans, pointing out that the holders of visitor visas very often use their stay in Germany to work illegally. The Federal Commissioner for Foreigners, Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, criticized the proposals. A ban on working for asylum-seekers would make them completely dependent on welfare benefits. Referring to the planned reduction of the number of foreign seasonal laborers, the commissioner warned against playing off German and foreign workers against one another.
dpa 28.9.97 // taz 29.9.97 // SZ 29.9.97 // dpa 30.9.97 // SZ 1.10.97 // SZ 4.10.97

Village in Brandenburg resists Jewish immigrants

The Land Brandenburg has abandoned plans to resettle 60 Jews from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan in Gollwitz, a community of 300 inhabitants. Local representatives had spoken out against accommodating the immigrants while assuring the government that the village inhabitants were not racists. Prime Minister Manfred Stolpe demonstrated understanding for the villagers" attitude, and asserted that he found no indication of "hostility towards Jews". Stolpe attributed the controversy to "obvious mistakes made by the administration in attempting to settle 60 Jewish people in a village with a population of 300, without adequate preparation." According to Stolpe, the immigrants will take up residence in another village in Brandenburg.
FR 30.9.97 // SZ 30.9.97 // dpa 1.10.97 // FR 8.10.97

Interior Ministry: 3,600 have returned to Vietnam so far

According to information from the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), 2,883 Vietnamese without residence rights in Germany have been deported to their native country. In addition, 770 Vietnamese have returned voluntarily. Germany and Vietnam had signed an agreement in July 1995, that 40,000 Vietnamese would be returned to their country by the year 2000. The German government announced that it would grant a loan of 10 million marks to assist in reintegrating Vietnamese returnees.
dpa 23.9.97

100,000 Bosnian refugees expected to return by the end of the year

The Federal Commissioner for Returning Refugees, Dietmar Schlee, and representatives of the Refugee Relief Agency (UNHCR) anticipate that 100,000 Bosnian civil war refugees will be able to return to their native countries by the end of 1997. As stated by Schlee, 75,000 Bosnians have already returned, and 250,000 still reside in Germany. However, the UNHCR representatives pointed out that it is going to become more difficult for those refugees still in Germany to return to Bosnia, as they are mainly from villages and cities now under the control of former wartime enemies.
FAZ 24.9.97

Aussiedler statistics

Horst Waffenschmidt, the commissioner for Aussiedler, predicts that the number of ethnic German immigrants in 1997 will reach its lowest level in 10 years. From January to September 1997 some 104,000 Aussiedler (ethnic German immigrants) came to Germany, which is 25,000 fewer than in the same period of the previous year. Waffenschmidt expects the total number of Aussiedler in 1997 to be significantly lower than 150,000. The commissioner attributes the drop in numbers to the effects of cultural projects which assist ethnic Germans in their native countries.
SZ 2.10.97

Asylum statistics

As reported by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, 9,010 aliens requested asylum in Germany in September. The number represents an increase of 474 in comparison to the previous month. Compared, however to September 1996, numbers declined by 16 percent. Since the beginning of the year, some 79,000 foreigners have applied for asylum in Germany. The acceptance rate for this period was 5.1percent. The main countries of origin in the first nine months of this year were Turkey, Irak, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
BMI Press Announcement 7.10.97 // dpa 7.10.97 // NZ 8.10.97

September 1997

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