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Germany admits to 5 illegal deportations

August 17, 2018

Germany has admitted to illegally deporting several migrants who may face persecution in their home countries. Among them was Osama bin Laden's alleged ex-bodyguard, whom the government could soon be forced to return.

Flight with barbed-wire in the foreground
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Stratenschulte

The German government conceded on Friday that it had illegally deported five people in 2018 while their asylum process was ongoing.

Responding to a parliamentary question from the opposition Green party, the Interior Ministry admitted that in all five cases "the necessary administrative actions had not yet been able to be enforced" before the people in question were forcefully expelled from Germany.

The ministry also said that there were two further illegal deportations in 2017, while there were none in 2015 or 2016.

Living with the threat of deportation

The unjustly deported migrants came from Nigeria, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Morocco, Zimbabwe, China and, in the most recent case, Tunisia.

The deported Chinese national is believed to a member of the Muslim Uighur minority, which human rights organizations warn are subject to severe persecution by Beijing. The man was deported from Bavaria in April and German officials have reportedly lost trace of him since.

German law forbids deportation to countries where people may face torture or abuse.

The government said it had sought "an immediate return" in five of the seven cases. In three of those cases, the expelled had already been returned, while in two cases the procedure was ongoing. In the last two cases no decision on the subjects' status had been made.

Luise Amtsberg, a spokeswoman on refugee affairs for the Green party, said the government's admission was "an indictment of Germany's rule of law."

"We should not take lightly the fact that authorities ignore ongoing procedures or disobey court decisions puts into question the fundamental principles of our democratic constitutional state," said Green party lawmaker Margarete Bause, who first asked for the data on illegal deportations

Read more: German churches preventing deportations

"Asylum seekers" returned from Germany infographic

Could Germany be forced to bring back bin Laden's bodyguard?

The Tunisian national in the Interior Ministry records appears to refer to the case of Sami A., the alleged former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden who was deported to his native Tunisia at the behest of the Interior Ministry, despite a court blocking such a move.

The German government could be under pressure to act in his case, after a higher court in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia ordered that Sami A. be immediately returned to Germany. A high-ranking state judge went on to accuse migration officials of withholding key information during the case, and said authorities exploited a brief time gap last month to deport the suspect before the judges could issue a ruling.

Read more: Tunisians, Germans split over deportation of suspected bin Laden bodyguard

Return to Kabul: Afghan deportees 1 year on

dm/kms (dpa, AFP)

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