• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Opinion: New Year's Eve sexual assaults
Refugees shouldn’t be deported for sex crimes
The picture says: "Deportation. Germany." Photo: DPA

Refugees shouldn’t be deported for sex crimes

Jörg Luyken · 11 Jan 2016, 14:37

Published: 11 Jan 2016 14:37 GMT+01:00

As slow as the political elite of Germany were to react the Cologne sex attacks, they have been as fast to jump on the bandwagon of public outrage and offer strong-arm solutions.

The consensus among the German political class seems to be that asylum seekers found guilty of these attacks should be packed onto cargo jets and sent back to whatever war zone they came from.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) wasted no time in using the attacks as a pretext for toughening asylum laws.

At a party conference in Mainz on Saturday the CDU unanimously decided that someone should lose their right to asylum even for offences carrying a suspended sentence.

The conservatives outdid even their own expectations in the so-called “Mainz Declaration”, having originally only intended to take asylum away from people handed jail time.

Desperate to keep up, Sigmar Gabriel, vice-Chancellor and head of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), told Bild that "all the possibilities of international law" must be examined "to send criminal asylum seekers back home."

"Why should German taxpayers pay for foreign criminals' jail time?" he asked, arguing that the threat of imprisonment in countries of origin would be a greater deterrent than spending time in a German prison.

Caught out by the depth of public anger, mainstream politicians are desperately trying to show they’re not the naive nincompoops the far right say they are.

But these proposals are morally bankrupt populism.

International law provides very few possibilities to send asylum seekers back home to a country they fled fearing for their lives.

The only exceptions the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees makes is for people culpable of serious war crimes or combatants - in both circumstances refugee status may be denied.

All other types of crime should be dealt with by national legal systems.

And this is with very good reason.

By definition a refugee is someone being offered protection because their life is at risk in their home country. To send them back could mean sending them to their death.

So the legal changes the German mainstream political parties are outbidding each other to make could effectively might amount to a death sentence for something as minor as theft.

To anyone with even a passing acquaintance with accepted European jurisprudence this should seem a touch harsh.

And the fact is that no crime in Europe warrants death - so whatever criminal act we are talking about, be it theft, sexual assault or murder, none can justifiably result in someone being deported to a country where their life is threatened.

Whether Germany would really get such deportations past the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is highly questionable.

Britain fought for years against the ECHR to have Islamist cleric Abu Qatada deported to Jordan, a peaceful country, over fears that he could face torture there.

Story continues below…

One can only imagine the looks on the faces of the Strasbourg judges when Merkel and Gabriel try and convince them Syrian President Bashar al Assad can be trusted to treat prisoners with dignity.

Enough of the tough talk. And enough of the feel-good liberalism too.

It's time Germany got real about the risks that come with taking in large amounts of refugees from war zones and ultra-conservative cultures.

But it needs to be honest to about the obligations it has to these people's lives as well.

Only then will realistic, moral and manageable solutions start being discussed.

SEE ALSO: Silence on sex crimes will make racism worse

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jörg Luyken (joerg.luyken@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
What are Merkel's chances for remaining Chancellor?
Photo: DPA.

She's already held the Chancellery for over a decade, but infighting with political allies as well as a rocky response to her refugee policies may put a damper on Angela Merkel's staying power.

German EU commissioner doubts Brexit will happen
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. Photo: EPA.

Germany's EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger raised doubts on Tuesday about whether Britain would leave the bloc, saying he wouldn't bet on "Brexit".

Merkel offers Russia a lifting of sanctions - if it behaves
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she has "the very greatest interest in stopping sanctions" against Russia, Reuters reports.

'Idiot' youth lets regional train drive over him as dare
Photo: DPA

In a stunt police have described as "incomprehensible idiocy," a drunk young man from Munich lay down on the tracks in front of a fast-moving train and let it ride over him.

'Unfriendly' Germans make expat life harder: report
Photo: Pexels.com

Expats in Germany generally find it great for families and starting a career, but were turned off by the language barriers and "unfriendly" Germans upon arrival, according to a new report.

Is German diplomacy getting too chummy with Russia?
Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA/AFP Pool.

Critics have been questioning the German Foreign Minister's recent series of comments about working closer with Russia, with some labelling the diplomat a "Russia-sympathizer".

Police investigate after mosque door is bricked shut
The bricked-up door. Photo: Facebook/Netzwerk für Flüchtlinge in Parchim.

Unknown people have bricked up the entrance to a mosque in northeastern Germany and stuck racist flyers to their masonry work.

Vice-Chancellor: TTIP trade deal is dead
Photo: DPA

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday that negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States were effectively dead in the water.

Law to force mums to give up identity of child's real father
Photo: DPA

Germany has drafted a law requiring mothers to inform their partners if their children were fathered by another man, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.

Gallery
Germans race bulls too, but with a difference
Photo: DPA

The most important sporting events only happen every four years: the World Cup, the Olympics, and of course the Münsing ox race.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
7,431
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd