An inquiry into a soldier who allegedly sought asylum status to launch terror attacks is slowing down refugee processing in Germany. An immigration audit has unearthed scores of errors in dealing with asylum applicants.
Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) faces new delays in the lengthy asylum application process, according to articles published in German newspapers on Wednesday. After launching an audit, authorities have found administrative errors in 10 percent to 15 percent of the first 1,000 approved asylum applications of the roughly 2,000 they intend to review, Bild and Berliner Zeitung (BZ) report.
BAMF launched its internal inquiry after an undercover German soldier was granted "subsidiary protection," a status just below asylum, which he allegedly intended to use to carry out terrorist attacks that would have implicated Syrians. "Diminished capacities" resulting from investigations into the case of Franco A. could lead to a "deceleration in the reduction of the backlog," a BAMF spokesperson told the newspapers. The soldier is being identified by his first name and last initial only as German press code discourages using the full name of criminal suspects.
Once Franco's fraud became known, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere launched an inquiry in an apparent bid to uncover systemic problems in the asylum process.
The decision to grant Franco protected status was a "flagrant error that is not allowed to happen," BAMF spokesperson Johannes Dimroth told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung when the audit was announced.
A 'gapless clarification'
About 2,000 approved asylum applications - roughly 1,000 from Afghans, and another 1,000 from Syrians - granted between January 1, 2016, and April 27, 2017, are being reviewed. The selected cases were chosen based on similar patterns to the soldier's, such as applications from people without papers or from individuals arriving alone in Franco's age group.
BAMF has called in an expert panel for its "reappraisal and gapless clarification of the case" and is prepared to follow the investigation wherever it leads, the spokesperson told Bild and BZ. That means that "experienced deciders are being pulled off their ongoing affairs" to ensure a timely conclusion to the audit.
The agency would not estimate just how long asylum decisions might be further delayed.
mkg/sms (AFP, kna, dpa)