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Germany plans to fast-track deportations

November 18, 2018

Germany's Interior Ministry has proposed new measures to monitor and deport failed asylum-seekers. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has said he is also looking at ways to repatriate known criminals to Syria.

Failed asylum-seekers at a German airport
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Seeger

The German Interior Ministry on Sunday confirmed plans to facilitate and accelerate deportations of failed asylum-seekers along with those who should have their asylum requests processed in another EU country under the so-called Dublin rules.

One of the measures submitted to state authorities is bolstering asylum-seekers' night-time reporting requirements. Another would implement a chip system to record when asylum-seekers pick up their mail to ensure they have received a deportation order. Such systems are already in use in the states of Hesse and Lower Saxony.

Others include securing "no-name bookings" on flights so that a seat can still be used by a potential deportee if the original failed asylum-seeker is unable to make the flight. It provides authorities with more flexibility to use reserved seats on flights, according to the ministry.

Read more: Underage refugees in Germany increasingly going missing

More tools for states

An Interior Ministry spokesperson said the measures would give state authorities tools to monitor and deport failed asylum-seekers. It would also give local authorities the ability to arrest and hold failed asylum-seekers in jail if they are deemed flight risks.

The measures appear to address concerns that arose in the wake of the 2016 terror attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. The perpetrator, Anis Amri, was a known criminal and failed asylum-seeker from Tunisia who managed to elude authorities in the run-up to the attack.

Read more: Anis Amri: How a terror suspect eluded German authorities

The plans were first reported by the Berlin-based newspaper Bild am Sonntag and later confirmed by the Interior Ministry.

Protesters demonstrating against deportation flights to Afghanistan
Deportations from Germany, especially to Afghanistan, have triggered demonstrations. Protesters have argued that some home countries aren't safe.Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Babbar

'Volatile situation'

Confirmation of the plans comes days after the ministry said it is considering revoking its freeze on repatriating Syrian migrants.

On Friday, German Interior Ministry Horst Seehofer, known for his hard-line policy toward irregular migrants, told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland group of local newspapers that authorities are examining whether they can deport Syrians who are known criminals.

But such moves remain controversial, and even more so after the German Foreign Ministry published a classified report on Syria, saying evidence shows a "complex, still difficult and volatile situation" in the war-torn country.

In 2015, Germany received nearly 900,000 refugees under Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy. Many of them were fleeing war and extreme poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. At the time, Merkel cited the situation in Syria for her decision.

Read more: Paying the price for helping refugees in Germany

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ls/sms (dpa, AFP)