Court ruling to leave 1000s of Syrians divided from families

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DPA/The Local - [email protected]
Court ruling to leave 1000s of Syrians divided from families
Photo: DPA

A federal court ruled Wednesday that authorities do not have to give full refugee status to all Syrians, meaning thousands of families are likely to be kept apart.


“There is no reason to believe that the Syrian state places every Syrian who belongs to the opposition under general suspicion,” the senior judge at the High Administrative Court, Uta Strzyz, said.

The court had deliberated on whether Syrians who return to their country would likely be victims of persecution, arrest or torture. Only if this were the case would they have a right to full asylum rather than so-called subsidiary protection.

But the court ruled that there was no evidence of systematic interrogation in Syria, basing the decision on a statement by the Foreign Ministry. It said that each Syrian’s case therefore had to be dealt with individually by German authorities.

Although those with subsidiary protection are safe from deportation, they still face considerable disadvantages in comparison with those who have full refugee status. Most notably, due to a law passed in February, they need to wait two years before their families are allowed to join them.

Nationally 113,000 refugees, 94,000 of whom are Syrian, have been given subsidiary protection by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

Several administrative courts at the state level had up until now seen the situation differently to the High Administrative Court.

In October the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that 17,000 refugees have sued German authorities since March for not giving them full refugee status, with over 90 percent winning their cases.

“The UNHCR has indicated that there is a pattern whereby returning Syrians are imprisoned and disappear,” said Bernd Mesovic from refugee NGO Pro Asyl.

“When in doubt the protection of refugees should take precedent. But the higher one goes up the court ladder, the more political the justice system becomes.”

The case was an attempt to “legitimize the dividing of families” and morally speaking was “unbearable,” Mesovic said.
The ruling specifically addressed the case of a young Syrian woman who had successfully sued at a lower court to be given full protection, and whom BAMF had taken to the High Administrative Court. Her lawyer, Kristin Hanke, criticized the court decision.

“The basic question of whether people who have fled Syria could face interrogation and torture upon their return has not been answered,” said Hanke.

Pointing out that Germany has had no diplomatic mission in Syria since 2012, Hanke added “this question also cannot be answered.”

The 33-year-old Syrian woman’s husband and four children, who currently live in Turkey, will now not have the right to join her in Germany.



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