Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said that immigration officials will re-check positive asylum decisions this summer in response to the revelation that a German soldier had managed to gain asylum through a fake identity as a Syrian refugee, despite speaking no Arabic.
This re-examination process is already conducted anyway by law, but typically only after three years.
The soldier, Franco Albrecht, was arrested in April over suspicions that he was plotting a far-right terror attack with another soldier and a civilian, which the three then reportedly planned to blame on his fake refugee identity.
The case has raised questions about far-right extremism within Germany’s military, as well as about the country’s ability to properly process the asylum applications of around one million refugees who have entered to country over the past two years.
De Maizière said on Wednesday that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) had so far found no comparable case to that of Albrecht within their own internal investigation.
The Interior Minister further stressed that Albrecht was a solitary case. He explained that out of 2,000 cases already randomly selected for analysis, no other cases showed signs of security standards being violated.
In all of the other cases, the applicants had been interviewed in a language from their declared home countries. Only Albrecht had been able to speak in another language, which was French.
Media reports earlier this month claimed that in BAMF’s investigation thus far, errors were found in ten percent of cases reviewed.
De Maizière said some of the mistakes found had to do with documentation.
“That is unfortunate, and this must lead to further consequences,” he said, calling for better quality control, among other things.
The Interior Minister blamed the “form deficiencies” on the pressure from the high volume of cases processed by BAMF.
The new review of up to 100,000 decisions will examine positive cases from 2015 to 2016, in particular of young men between the ages of 18 and 40 who come from the top ten countries of origin reported.
“This measure is a very extensive, very important and very necessary for security.”
De Maizière noted that the review could lead to delays in the overall processing of asylum applications, “but thoroughness comes before quickness.”
BAMF leader Jutta Cordt said that the Albrecht case had “glaring flaws, at every step of the process”, from the application, to the interview, to quality assurance.
“The workers were all had training, albeit abbreviated. But they could and should have recognized the mistakes,” Cordt said.
For example, it should have been noted that Albrecht’s nationality was never sufficiently clarified.
As a result of the Albrecht discovery, all 8,000 interpreters have had their contracts adjusted so that they will be obligated to disclose if they have misgivings about an applicant’s nationality based on their language.
Spokeswoman for the Green party Irene Mihalic questioned why negative asylum decisions were not also being reviewed, as well as how immigration authorities could already assume that there were no other similar cases to Albrecht.