Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, representing Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union party, has not ruled out that his country will resume deporting criminals and offenders to Syria, lifting a 6-year moratorium. The politician, known for his tough stance on migration control, told the local outlet Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland that his ministry is considering such a scenario.
The German broadcaster Deutsche Welle has reported that the German authorities are expected to make a decision in two weeks, when the conference of regional interior ministers takes place.
Over the last few months, protests against Angela Merkel’s refugee policy have shaken several towns throughout Germany. They were prompted by acts of violence including gang rape and murder, allegedly perpetrated by migrants. In late October, thousands rallied in Freiburg after seven Syrians have been arrested on suspicion of raping an 18-year-old student. In September, the German city of Chemnitz was rocked by anti-immigrant protests, led by right-wing activists, after a local carpenter was allegedly stabbed to death by a migrant from Syria and another from Iraq following an altercation at a music festival.
Deportation to Syria on Pause
The temporary deportation ban is due to expire on December 31, 2018. It was first introduced in 2012, a year after the civil war in Syria broke out, and subsequently prolonged by regional interior ministers. It was last extended in 2017, although Bavaria and Saxony voiced a desire to lift the moratorium in mid-2018, if security conditions in Syria allow.
Saxony’s Interior Minister Roland Woeller from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and his Bavarian counterpart Joachim Herrmann (CSU) have backed the revived initiative to deport criminals.
"As soon as the security situation allows, there should be an option to send people who pose a danger to the public and also criminals to Syria," Woeller told the media.
He stated that the interior ministers will consider the latest report issued by Germany’s Foreign Minister. It characterised the current situation in Syria as "complex, still difficult and volatile," a description which was applied both to territories controlled by militants and to regions where Damascus has reintroduced the rule of law.
Spiegel reports that almost all Syrians in Germany currently receive refugee status, as only 52 out of approximately 22,500 applications were rejected in 2018. Syrians constitute the lion's share of all applicants seeking asylum in Germany. According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), nearly 34,000 claims out of the total number of 124,000 have been filed by migrants from this Arab Republic.
Germany took in 325,400 refugees in 2017, who accounted for almost 60 percent of the 540,000 migrants who were resettled last year in Europe. The statistics office said that about 33 percent of the migrants were from Syria.