GERMANY: Commissioner urges Parliament to increase the human rights safeguards of the bill for improving the implementation of expulsion of migrants

(Council of Europe) Today the Commissioner published a letter she addressed to the Chairwoman of the Committee on Internal Affairs and Community of the Parliament of Germany, Andrea Lindholz, in which she raises concerns about some aspects of the bill that aims at facilitating removals of people obliged to leave the country (“Geordnete-Rückkehr-Gesetz”).

The Commissioner is concerned about the proposed measure that classifies information relating to the practical steps leading to a removal as state secrets, because this may result in members of civil society and NGOs being prosecuted for aiding or abetting the disclosure of confidential information.

“The provision, as it stands, could have an impact on freedom of expression; it has the potential to criminalise NGOs’ activities, and risks creating a chilling effect on freedom of information of the concerned organisations”, writes the Commissioner. “I call on the Parliament to refrain from taking any measures criminalising, stigmatising or putting at any disadvantage individuals and NGOs providing humanitarian assistance to, and defending the rights of, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and to restore an enabling environment conducive to their work.” In this context, the Commissioner underlines that information regarding the timing of a removal is an essential element for ensuring that the rights of persons concerned are adequately protected.

The Commissioner is also concerned about the fact that the bill intends to expand the grounds for detention of migrants pending expulsion, instead of developing alternative measures to detention.