• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Germany confiscates more from refugees than Denmark
Refugees taking a train from Germany to Denmark. Photo: DPA

Germany confiscates more from refugees than Denmark

Jörg Luyken · 28 Jan 2016, 10:41

Published: 28 Jan 2016 10:41 GMT+01:00

The new Danish legislation passed on Tuesday, which would allow authorities to confiscate valuables worth more than 10,000 Danish Krone (€1,340) from refugees, was described as despicable by US-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW).

"Does a rich country like Denmark really need to strip the very assets of these desperate asylum seekers before providing them basic services?" HRW's executive director Kenneth Roth asked in a press conference in Istanbul on Wednesday.

Some critics have even likened the Danish proposals to the confiscation of gold and other valuables from Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who is currently a guest professor at  the University of Art in Berlin, pulled an exhibition in Denmark in disgust.

But Germany actually has long established rules on confiscating refugees’ valuables which are stricter than those set out by the new Danish law.

For Matthias Höhn, chief whip for Die Linke (the Lefty Party) in the federal parliament, this is a "heartless" treatment of vulnerable people.

"Because refugees are denied legal ways into Europe, they become dependent on the dirty trade of smugglers - that means selling belongings and property for the expensive journey which comes at enormous risk to their lives," Höhn told The Local

"Taking away their remaining money and last heirlooms is perhaps strictly legal, but it’s more than a bit heartless."

Mandatory searches

In Bavaria - where the vast majority of refugees arrive in the country - cash and valuables can be confiscated with a value of over €750.

A spokesperson for the Bavarian social ministry confirmed to The Local that upon arrival "refugees are searched for documents, valuables and money."

"When we suspect that the an asylum seeker is holding large sums and does not agree to be searched, the police are called in."

The spokesperson explained that valuables taken from refugees are put into the state budget and go towards financing the costs of housing refugees, so that "available assets are used before the state raises extra taxes."

In the neighbouring southern state of Baden-Württemberg the rules are even stricter. There, refugees can have valuables worth more than €350 taken from them.

Meanwhile in North Rhine-Westphalia refugees are only allowed to have €200 in valuables before local authorities can start taking their possessions.

They 'must repay costs'

All three states are implementing federal laws, which require asylum seekers to use up their own resources before receiving state aid.

"If you apply for asylum here, you must use up your income and wealth before receiving aid," Aydan Özoguz, the federal government's integration commissioner, recently told Bild newspaper.

Story continues below…

"That includes, for example, family jewellery. Even if some prejudices persist – you don't have it any better as an asylum seeker as someone on unemployment benefit," Özoguz added.

But, outside Die Linke, there were few critics of the practice inside Germany.

Opposition Green party MP Volker Beck told Der Tagesspiegel that it was right for asylum applicants to pay for services to the extent they could.

"Of course asylum seekers aren't in a better position than those on unemployment benefits," Beck said.

"Asylum seekers must repay the costs of accommodation and care to the state."

 

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

Jörg Luyken (joerg.luyken@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
Brexit vote
Merkel: Britain can’t cherry-pick Brexit terms
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that the EU could survive a Brexit and warned Britain the union would not tolerate "cherry-picking" in upcoming negotiations on their future relations.

This film makes Darmstadt look more romantic than Paris
The Russian Orthodox Church in Darmstadt. Source: City, Light and Movement.

Not quite sure where Darmstadt is? A short film shot by a Syrian refugee will have you rushing to locate it on a map.

VW agrees to $14.7 bn payout in US emissions probe
Photo: DPA

Volkswagen has agreed to pay out $14.7 billion in a settlement with US authorities and car owners in the probe over its emissions-cheating diesel-powered cars, court documents showed Tuesday.

Brexit vote
Left leader calls for German referendum on EU deals
Left Party leader Sahra Wagenknecht. Photo: DPA.

The left-wing leader of the official opposition party in Germany said that it’s time the German people also have a say on what goes on in Brussels.

Teacher overpaid quarter of a million euros. No one notices
Photo: DPA

The Düsseldorf teacher was paid a full-time salary for six years, despite only working part time.

Euro 2016
Germans react with glee to England’s Iceland humiliation
Distraught England players after Iceland defeat. photo: DPA

Still upset by their British brothers voting for Brexit, Germans expressed an overwhelming sense of Schadenfreude at England's Euro 2016 exit.

Cleaning spray sets off shock explosion in Frankfurt cafe
Photo: Frankfurt fire department.

Four people have been injured in an explosion at a cafe in a Frankfurt shopping district. The culprit: cleaning products.

Brexit vote
Merkel vows to create 'new impulse' for EU
Chancellor Angela Merkel with French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The leaders of Germany, France and Italy vowed on Monday "a new impulse" for the EU as it reels from Brexit.

Police investigate after 'Nazi knifeman' threatens President
Demonstrators protest against the visit of President Joachim Gauck. Photo: DPA.

German President Joachim Gauck was confronted by some aggressive right-wing extremists during an official weekend visit, including one man carrying a knife.

Telekom warns all users to change passwords after scam
Photo: DPA.

German giant Deutsche Telekom is warning customers to change their passwords after finding that up to 120,000 customers' data was being sold on the black market.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sport
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
7,830
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd