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Berlin 'neglecting refugees' human rights': Amnesty

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Berlin 'neglecting refugees' human rights': Amnesty
People demonstrate against refugees in Erfurt, Thuringia, in October 2015. Photo: DPA
10:49 CET+01:00
Germany's refugee policy is "losing sight of human rights" and too focused on showing toughness, a report from NGO Amnesty International warned on Wednesday.

The NGO's annual report criticizes new laws which have increased police powers to detain asylum seekers, especially those whose applications have been rejected, and cut benefits – including healthcare. The report describes the laws as falling "short of human rights standards".

Germany's "readiness to take these people in was a big contribution to helping those in need," Selmin Çalışkan, general secretary of Amnesty's Germany branch, said at an event marking the release of the report.

"But this refugee-friendly behaviour from the government is no longer there," she warned.

Çalışkan also slammed Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent efforts to keep migrants in Turkey rather than allow them to travel on into Europe as undermining Germany's support for human rights.

"The government of [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan regularly infringes on human rights. The federal government must address this when it's negotiating with Ankara," she said.

Beyond Turkey, the federal government is also pressuring other countries to take deportees whose asylum applications have been rejected – including states where Amnesty says their human rights may be in danger, such as Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, Çalışkan noted.

On the other hand Amnesty praised Merkel for taking a leading role in Europe in accepting refugees in late summer 2015.

Beyond refugees

Germany also earned praise from the human rights NGO on a number of other fronts.

Courts sentenced Rwandan war criminals to tough sentences and overturned a ban on wearing religious symbols at work, while the government introduced new standards covering arms sales abroad.

But there was sharp criticism on "failure to investigate the racial motivation of offenses" – such as those of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU) group – and of failure to adequately investigate allegations of police violence.

The federal government in Berlin would not immediately comment on the report on Wednesday morning when contacted by The Local.

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