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Refuge in Europe

Germany: Asylum applicants resort to court appeals

Nearly half of all asylum applicants rejected by Germany then take their cases before German courts. The BAMF refugee agency says 47 percent of its 119,000 negative decisions made so far this year went to appeal.

Symbolbild - Asyl beantragen (picture-alliance/dpa/arifoto UG/M. Reichel)

An applicant from Eritrea at BAMF's office in Suhl in Germany's eastern state of Thuringia

The Nuremburg-based Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) added that in the first three months of this year 23.9 percent of rejected asylum seekers had convinced courts they were entitled to refuge.

The agency added, however, that further hearings often confirmed BAMF's previous decisions. Successful appellants were often refugees from war-torn Syria.

In the meantime, the staff-boosted agency said it had slashed its backlog of old cases from Germany's peak influx years of 2015 and 2016 down to 80,000 cases.

Read: Germany sees record number of people with immigrant background

In total, BAMF had processed more than 400,000 cases between January and June, including the 119,000 cases rejected, compared to the 700,000 processed in the whole of last year.

Up until July 2017, BAMF had received 130,000 fresh applications of which 48,000 were still awaiting decision, the agency said.

Debate ignited ahead of election

The slew of data presented Wednesday by BAMF head Jutta Cordt coincided with pro-and anti-refugee debate reignited by last week's fatal knife attack at a Hamburg supermarket, involving a rejected Palestinian - less than two months before Germany's federal election on September 24.

Bundesamtes für Migration und Flüchtlinge - Jutta Cordt (picture alliance/dpa/D. Karmann)

Cordt took charge at BAMF last December

Florian Herrmann, a Bavarian law and order advocate within Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, said "endangerers" [Gefährder in German] such as the alleged Hamburg assailant "must be withdrawn from public before they perpetrate acts."

Drawing links between acts of violence and migrants has been a frequent assertion during debate on refugee arrivals in Germany. 

No majority for upper limit

In contrast, a survey conducted for the magazine Stern found that 51 percent of Germans did not want an upper limit put on refugee arrivals.

The remaining 48 percent favored an upper limit as proposed by Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU).

Since the virtual closure of the so-called Balkans route in early 2016, asylum seekers have focused on trying cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.

Strasbourg intervenes

The newspaper Die Welt reported meantime that the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg had stopped the deportation from Bremen of an 18-year-old Gefährder, who had appealed against expulsion endorsed by Germany's top court.

Germany's federal BKA criminal investigations bureau meanwhile said crimes linked to migrants had slowed in the first quarter of 2017 to 64,700 cases.

Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis featured little in such crime. Above average were persons from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Gambia, Nigeria and Somalia.

Many were young men aged between 18 and 21, who like young German men, tended to feature above average in crime statistics, the BKA emphasized.

'Prompt clarity'

BAMF's Cordt said the agency's boost in personnel, organizational changes and drive toward electronic handling of cases was aimed at giving asylum applicants "prompt clarity" over whether or not they could remain in Germany.

Read: BAMF falling behind processing quota

She was responding to Berlin city-state's justice senator Dirk Behrendt of the Greens party, who accused BAMF of failing to send representatives to applicants' appeal cases before Berlin courts.

Deutschland Berlin Justizsenator Dirk Behrendt (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Carstensen)

Telephone hotline not good enough, says Berlin's Behrendt

Hotline instead of representative in court

Berlin's Administrative Court currently had 13,000 pending asylum cases, but to obtain agency input courts were referred only to a BAMF telephone hotline.

"We are far way from what we wish in a civilly constituted society," Behrendt said.

The head of BAMF's Berlin branch, Wolfgang Meier, said agency representatives appeared at cases of "fundamental significance."

Another delaying factor was the Berlin court's "snail-like" handling of paper files compared to BAMF's switch to electronic documentation, Meier said.

ipj/kms (epd, KNA, dpa)

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