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Rapid deportations of Salafist suspects ruled lawful

August 22, 2017

The deportations of an Algerian and a Nigerian, both born in Germany and classed as dangerous, have been backed by Germany’s top administrative court. The evictions stem from a little-used clause in German residency law.

Stamp with deportation
Image: picture alliance/dpa/R. Hirschberger

The Federal Administrative Court on Tuesday upheld a ruling to deport two German-born terror suspects, who had been classed as dangerous.

The men, who are citizens of Nigeria and Algeria respectively, had appealed against the deportation. They claimed they would face torture in their home countries. 

Judges at the Leipzig-based court decided that the state of Lower Saxony state had correctly used Paragraph 58a of Germany's Residency Law to evict the two young men earlier this year.

A deportation is lawful if a foreign national poses a potential risk, which could turn into an imminent danger. The court was satisfied there was enough evidence the men were rooted in Germany's radical Islamist scene and had threatened violence.

The inital deportation case

The Hanover-based regional government sent the 21-year-old Nigerian to Nigeria in April and the 27-year-old Algerian to Algeria in July using deportation decrees that effectively neutralize time-buying appeals by lawyers. 

Authorities had arrested them in Göttigen in February, reportedly after lengthy observation, on suspicion of being Islamist Gefährder – a German term literally translated as "endangerer" – and who had been close to carrying out attacks.

Paragraph 58a was inserted into Germany's Residence Act in 2005, allowing regional authorities to decree the immediate deportation of a resident foreigner to avert a special danger or terror risk identified via an evidence-based prognosis.

During preliminary proceedings in March, the federal administrative court agreed that both should be deported. Its pronouncement Tuesday detailed its reasoning for not requiring a concrete risk but only an official prognosis.

Lawyers for both argued that their utterances were made in jest and their clients were not dangerous.

Fahndunsgfoto - Anis A. nach Terrorangriff Berliner Weihnachtsmarkt
Amri, who is believed to have carried out the Berlin truck attack that left 12 people dead, was later shot dead in MilanImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Police Handout

Christmas attack prompts usage

Last December's Christmas market attack in Berlin, claimed by the terror group Islamic State, prompted ten such deportations by regional authorities in Germany, according to the German news agency DPA, seven of which were still subject to legal appeals.

Bans on reentry to Germany and renewed residency also issued by the state of Lower Saxony against the Algerian and Nigerian still hinged on their legal appeals before the local administrative court in Göttigen.

Ahead of Germany's Bundestag election on September 24, both parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel's existing coalition government welcomed Tuesday's federal administrative court pronouncement.

'New judicial territory'

It amounted to confirmation for the policy of Lower Saxony's Social Democrat (SPD) interior minister Boris Pistorius, said the SPD's federal parliamentary caucus leader Thomas Oppermann.

Boris Pistorius
Rapid deportation clause "new territory, says PistoriusImage: picture alliance/dpa/P. Steffen

"Those who plan terrorist attacks should not hope for leniency but must reckon on detention, an expulsion order and deportation,” said Oppermann.

Pistorius himself, said that as the first German state to apply Paragraph 58a, Lower Saxony had entered "new judicial territory.”

Stephan Harbarth, the deputy leader of Merkel's conservative caucus, described the Leipzig judgement as an important signal.

"This makes it absolutely clear that there is no place in our society for ‘endangerers',” Harbarth said.

ipj/kl (dpa, AFP, Reuters)