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9 Jan, 2017 21:12

Berlin mulls ‘no deportation’ decree for rejected asylum seekers attacked by far-right

Berlin mulls ‘no deportation’ decree for rejected asylum seekers attacked by far-right

Germany’s federal state of Berlin is mulling a special “decree” to halt or drop a deportation of rejected asylum seekers if they have been subjected to far-right violence, the state’s interior minister confirmed.

In an  to Germany’s Tagesspiegel, Berlin Interior Minister Andreas Geisel said such refugees need “double protection.”

The plan would be “a strong political signal to all those who think ‘who wants to expel refugees from the country should attack them’,” Geisel said. 

“Here I say ‘No’. Whoever is subjected to far-right violence [enjoys] double protection from us and will not be deported,” Geisel said. Berlin authorities are now checking whether a special “decree” is needed to implement the proposal.

In certain cases (such as far-right abuse), Berlin may already drop deportation of a rejected refugee on the basis of existing laws and rulings on asylum seekers, yet there is no special decree on that. Berlin is the latest German state to mull such a plan after the neighboring federal state of Brandenburg  so late last year. 

Back then, Brandenburg’s authorities issued a decree to the federal states’ Foreign Office allowing rejected asylum seekers, who were attacked on the “racist grounds” to stay in Germany until at least the investigations against the perpetrators are completed. In certain cases, the refugee victims can be granted a residence permit as “compensation.”

The plan should raise “public interest” on the matter and also “make clear to the perpetrators” that their attacks would in fact “achieve the opposite,” Tagesspiegel writes citing officials. However, authorities noted though that the potential ruling won’t apply to rejected asylum seekers with a criminal record in Germany.

According to police figures  by the Potsdamer Neuste Nachrichten, the number of violent far-right attacks in Brandenburg has increased by 20 percent over the past year, following a similar trend in 2015. 

A total of 921 attacks on refugee facilities were reported in 2016 across Germany, the country’s Federal Criminal Police (BKA) estimated in a report,  to the Die Welt daily.

Nearly 860 of the assaults had a suspected far-right background, officials say. Among others, the figure includes 66 arson attacks, 211 cases of hate speech and 371 cases of property damage, the paper said. 

“This figure is frighteningly high,” Eva Hoegl, the Social Democrats’ (SPD) deputy parliamentary group leader and domestic security expert, told Die Welt.