German high court stops one Afghan deportation, dozens more go ahead | News | DW | 14.12.2016
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German high court stops one Afghan deportation, dozens more go ahead

Germany's Constitutional Court has postponed the deportation of an Afghan man until he can complete an application for asylum. The court did not, however, stop the deportation of some 34 other Afghans.

The German Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday in favor of a 29-year-old asylum-seeker and issued a stay of his deportation order. The court did not, however, stop the deportations of some 34 other Afghans who were deported on Wednesday, according to German media.

In its ruling, the court left open the question of whether deportations to Afghanistan are constitutionally justifiable and instead addressed only the case of the 29-year-old.

The man had filed an asylum application 30 months ago and more recently filed a follow-up application, citing the poor security situation in Afghanistan as the reason why he could not return. The Constitutional Court said he could not be deported until that application had been processed.

Demo gegen geplante Abschiebung am Frankfurter Flughafen (Getty Images/AFP/D. Roland)

At Frankfurt Airport, several hundred people protested against the deportations

The court denied an application from a second Afghan who requested an injunction against his deportation.

Protests at airport

A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Refugees said authorities were expecting a plane with 50 returnees from Germany to arrive on Thursday in Kabul.

Several hundred people gathered at Frankfurt Airport on Wednesday to protest against the planned deportations, chanting: "Deportation is torture; deportation is murder; the right to remain for all, immediately."

A charter flight carrying a group of rejected Afghan asylum seekers back to their home country left Germany on Wednesday evening, according to Reuters news agency and Germany's ARD public broadcaster. 

"Spiegel Online" reported earlier Wednesday that 50 Afghans would be on board the flight from Frankfurt to Kabul, which is to be just the first in a series of such deportations, with the next one planned for January.

A spokeswoman for the German Interior Ministry would not confirm details about the flight. Ahead of the deportations, she said the time and place were being kept confidential so as not to endanger the measure, which was agreed as part of a deal with the Afghan government in October.

Demo gegen geplante Abschiebung am Frankfurter Flughafen (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Prautsch)

Protesters held signs like this one saying, "Afghanistan is not safe"

Lawmakers and rights groups react to deportations

The chairman of the Green Party parliamentary group in Berlin decried the deportations, accusing German Justice Minister Thomas de Maiziere of playing a "ruthless game" with the well-being of the asylum seekers. 

The human rights organization Pro Asyl called on local Green Party lawmakers to fight future mass deportations of Afghan migrants denied asylum status. Pro Asyl's head, Günther Burkhardt, told German news agency DPA: "We are appealing to Green Party members in Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Hamburg to do all they can to stop these people from being deported."

However, leading figures from the Christian Social Union (CSU) party, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative allies in Bavaria, welcomed the deportations. 

CSU leader Horst Seehofer told German broadcaster ARD that he hoped Wednesday's deportations would "not be a one-time event." Returning rejected asylum seekers would also damage radicalized forces within Germany, he added. Eight of the deported Afghans were living in Bavaria.

Bavaria's interior minister, Joachim Herrman (CSU) also refuted claims that the deportations were a violation of human rights. With German soldiers and police forces supporting local security forces in Afghanistan to stabilize the region, "this warrants the return of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan's secure provinces," he said.

Afghans caught in the middle

According to "Spiegel," the Afghan returnees will first be handed over to local authorities before returning to their home regions, if these are considered to be "halfway safe."

More than a million migrants, mainly fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa, have entered Germany since 2015. In 2016, Afghans were the second biggest group of asylum-seekers in Germany after Syrians, according to data from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Germany has sought to speed up the processing of applications for people most likely to receive asylum, such as those fleeing the conflict in Syria.

But that also means the government has sped up the process of expelling certain groups, with Afghans falling somewhere in between. While some areas aren't considered safe enough to send asylum seekers back, others are. The German and Afghan governments signed an agreement on deportations several weeks ago.

sms, dm/mm, ksb (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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