The human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe has called on the German government to step up efforts to fight xenophobia. Nils Muiznieks has said there are "clear signs" of increasing intolerance.
Speaking in the western French city of Strasbourg on Monday, Muiznieks said that a series of attacks on refugee shelters and regular demonstrations against an alleged "Islamization" of Europe in recent months were "clear signs" of increasing of intolerance in Germany.
Following a visit to Germany, Muiznieks also said the affair surrounding the alleged murders by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU) had brought to light "institutional bias and other serious shortcomings in police and security services."
'Problematic' medical care
As well as calling for improvement in criminal prosecution of racist acts, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner also said that clear instructions for police and prosecutors as well as training courses for judges would be necessary.
On a positive note, Muiznieks welcomed Germany's decision to provide its Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) with almost 2,000 new jobs, but added that language courses would also be necessary to improve the reception and integration of asylum seekers. The medical care for migrants in some German states was "problematic," he said.
Muiznieks' criticism on Monday came less than a week after Germany came under fire from the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
"Racism in Germany is not only found in extreme right-wing circles, but in all parts of society," the German government admitted during the UN review.
Germany expects to receive some 400,000 new asylum applications in 2015 - twice as many as last year.
Lübeck court sentences arsonist
In the northern German city of Lübeck on Monday, a tax collector was sentenced to two years on probation after confessing to the arson attack on an uninhabited refugee home in the nearby town on Escheburg in February.
The 39-year-old claimed he had started the fire to prevent Iraqi refugees from moving into the neighborhood.
The arson attack on accommodation intended for use by asylum seekers was just one of many in Germany in recent months in cities as far apart as Vorra in Bavaria, Tröglitz in Saxony-Anhalt and Limburgerhof in Rhineland-Palatinate.
ksb/kms (AFP, dpa)