Allemagne : Camps/Accommodation on arrival

sources : Danish Refugee Council - report, PRO ASYL and others

Once in the country, asylum seekers are referred to a particular reception centre in accordance with the centralised distribution procedure, where they submit their formal applications for asylum and undergo a medical check-up. Police records are also checked.

The allocation of applicants amongst the Länder is done in accordance with admission quotas, which are decided by the Länder. Asylum seekers are registered in a so-called EASY Programme (First Reception of Asylum Seekers) and then distributed throughout the country in accordance with these quotas.

It is compulsory for all asylum seekers to stay in reception centres, even for those who have family members already living in Germany. Furthermore, they are not allowed to leave the administrative district in which the centre is located.

The reception centres are run by the Länder and have a minimum capacity of 300 persons, although some are much larger. Meals are provided and asylum seekers are not allowed to cook for themselves. Some centres will also provide clothing in emergencies.

In principle, asylum seekers stay in reception centres for a maximum of three months and then move into an asylum centre (see « Further accommodation » below). However, many stay for much longer before being found a place in an asylum centre. In addition, certain centres operate both as a reception centre and an asylum centre. In such cases, applicants may remain there after the initial three months.

In general, there are no special arrangements for unaccompanied minors or single women. However, several regions have established « clearing and reception centres » for unaccompanied minors, where they can be accommodated. Many reception centres have units reserved for single women. Family members are not normally separated, but it is not always possible to provide them separate accommodation.

Applicants whose claims are rejected on manifestly unfounded grounds and whose deportation may take place without hindrance have no legal basis for being in the country. Accordingly, they are no longer allowed to stay in the reception centres and lose their entitlement to community housing.

Refugee-assisting NGOs have expressed their concern at the poor social conditions facing asylum seekers in the reception centres, which are likely to have a particularly damaging effect on those already suffering from traumatic experiences.

Further accommodation

After this initial reception phase, asylum seekers - unless rejected on manifestly unfounded grounds - are distributed between the local authorities, on the basis of the current population of the Länder and districts within them. No other criteria are taken into consideration.

Asylum seekers have very little say when it comes to choosing the district or even the Land to which they are allocated, since the authorities are only required to take the closest family members (spouses, children and parents) into consideration. It may be extremely difficult for family members who have come to Germany separately to be reunited in the same district.

Applicants are usually accommodated in community housing (asylum centres). Accommodation there is, in principle, compulsory. An asylum seeker is only allowed to stay with family members or friends living in Germany if the district where he/she has been allocated has no asylum centre and if the cost of such private accommodation does not exceed that of accommodation in a centre.

Asylum centres are regulated by regional guidelines establishing minimum standards. However, standards vary from one Land to another, and according to refugee-assisting NGOs, guidelines are not always applied and controlled effectively. In some Länder, asylum seekers have nine m2 living space per person, whereas in others they may have only six m2. In most cases, families are accommodated together in one room, whilst single people normally share rooms and facilities.

In some asylum centres, residents are provided with food or ready-made meals ; in others, they have access to kitchenettes where they can prepare their own meals and receive an allowance for food.

The authorities of each city or local district (« Kreis ») are responsible for the conditions in their asylum centres and must ensure that the necessary social services are provided. This function is often delegated to charities or private organisations. In the former East German Länder, most asylum centres are run by private organisations, and other Länder are increasingly following this precedent. As a rule, the Land’s authorities reimburse the costs borne by the Kreis.

Accommodation in the asylum centres is also provided during the appeal procedure.

Financial assistance

The Asylum Seekers Benefit Federal Act of 1993 (« Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz »), amended in 1997 and 1998, has severely restricted assistance to asylum seekers during the first 36 months of their stay in Germany. There are plans to extend the time for the restrictions to cover the whole time of the asylum procedure.

In accordance with this Act, the monthly pocket money for everyday expenses has been reduced to EUR 41 per person aged 14 and over, and to EUR 20.5 per person under 14. All other items essential to personal well being, such as clothes and necessities for personal hygiene, are provided in kind unless this proves to be impractical or unfeasible for some reason. Asylum seekers staying outside the asylum centres may receive assistance in currency or with vouchers.

Following amendments to the Act passed in August 1998, assistance may be further reduced for certain categories of applicants, including those whose identity is not established. (see departure centres)

Asylum seekers are not entitled to any form of child benefit.

After this initial 36-month period, they are then entitled to the same social support as nationals, under the Social Assistance Act (« Bundessozialhilfegesetz »).

Work

According to Section 61(1) of the Asylum Procedure Act, asylum seekers are not allowed to work while housed in reception centres, i.e. for the first three months following their arrival.

Access to work after the first three-month period is dependant on the date of arrival in Germany : asylum seekers may after one year still apply for a work permit for a specific job. The position must first have been offered to German nationals or « privileged » foreigners, such as EU citizens. Owing to the high rate of unemployment in the former East Germany, asylum seekers allocated to asylum centres there have virtually no chance of finding work.

Language tuition

Asylum seekers are not given tuition in German language and culture. However, NGOs organise various classes on a small scale in some asylum centres.

School attendance

Although it is not compulsory for the children of asylum seekers to attend school, they have the right to do so in most Länder. In practice, however, this depends on the goodwill, interest, size, financial and human resources available at local schools.

Children are very rarely taught in their mother tongue.

Children may also attend local kindergartens. Expenses are covered by the youth welfare office.

Unaccompanied minors

Unaccompanied minors under the age of 16 are allocated a guardian to represent them during the asylum procedure. Those aged 16-18 are entitled to take legal action in their own right and may therefore apply for asylum themselves.

Some Länder have established special clearing and reception centres for unaccompanied minors.

Health/sickness

Under the Asylum Seekers Benefit Federal Act of 1993, access to medical and dental treatment during the first 36 months in Germany is restricted to cases of serious illness or acute pain.

There are no medical personnel based in the asylum centres, although some centres have contracts with specific doctors, to whom asylum seekers may be referred if necessary.

After this initial 36-month period, and at the earliest from 1 June 2000 onwards, asylum seekers have the same access to the national health service as German nationals, in accordance with the Social Assistance Act.

Freedom of movement/residence

Asylum seekers’ freedom of movement is restricted geographically. In general terms, they are only free to move within the boundaries of the local district to which they have been allocated, although, in some cases, this may be extended to a wider area.

If an asylum seeker wishes to travel outside this restricted zone, he/she must apply beforehand to the local Aliens Office (« Ausländerbehörde ») for permission. This applies to asylum seekers accommodated in the reception centres and those staying in the asylum centres.

Custody awaiting Deportation (legal frame)

Custody awaiting deportation as regulated in § 57 AuslG is one of the most depressing chapters of German aliens law. Custody awaiting deportation means being under arrest without having committed a crime. A conviction under criminal law is not a prerequisite. Custody awaiting deportation is nothing but a means of force in order to guarantee the uncomplicated enforcement of deportations. Judgements ordering custody awaiting deportation are passed much too fast, too easily and too often in Germany. Some aliens authorities and central deportation institutions do not make enough effort to urge the refugee to fulfil his obligation to leave on his own, but believe on the contrary that it would be right to safeguard the effecting of the departure through a surprising arrest of the refugee. There are also several judges who impose custody awaiting deportation without thoroughly examining the preconditions. In many Länder the conditions of imprisonment do not come up to the minimum standards of human right and of a state governed by law. Although the purpose of the custody - safeguarding the deportation - does not justify the usual restrictions such as censure of correspondence, limited number of visitors and restricted contact to the outside world, subjecting the refugee to the rigid laws of the detention centres and being imprisoned with other criminals, they still are usual practice. The comprehensive social care which would be required is rarely guaranteed. Not least because of these conditions there have been several refugees who died in the past while in custody awaiting deportation.

The duration of the imprisonment is often too long. The principle of speedy procedure is not sufficiently paid attention to. Often custody awaiting deportation is ordered or extended although it is absolutely unclear whether and when the deportation can be effected. The maximum duration of custody awaiting deportation in the form of preventive detention of 18 months is scandalous, also the regular duration of 6 months is way too long.

Effective legal protection is seldom guaranteed. Many refugees are not represented by a lawyer and not sufficiently informed. Often cases re custody awaiting deportation are not dealt with the appropriate care and urgency by the detention judge. The protection by means of legal remedies is often devoid of meaning because before the end of custody no decisions are passed on complaints and because for an extension of custody awaiting deportation a new stage of appeal has to be commenced.

The imprisonment of children and teenagers, elderly and ill persons, pregnant or nursing mothers is not covered by the purpose of the detention.

All this has been criticised for years, but the situation has not yet been remedied. Therefore the demand for an end to the prison-like conditions refugees are subject to while in custody awaiting deportation and a drastic reduction of the admissible maximum duration of a temporary detention to guarantee that deportation takes place must stay on the agenda. It is up to any person giving support to refugees to work towards the abolition of this disgraceful situation by never ceasing to criticise the faults of the system.

I) Overview

1) Legal preconditions

The legal preconditions for custody awaiting deportation are determined in § 57 AuslG.

Pursuant to § 57 I AuslG preparatory custody is admissible if a deportation is being prepared but cannot yet be decided on and if the deportation would be made considerably harder without the refugee’s arrest. An existing obligation to leave is no precondition in this case, but :
- impossibility of immediate deportation
- frustration or complication of the deportation unless order of arrest
- the requirement of deportation
- the possibility and admissibility of a deportation

The detention judge must confirm that these preconditions apply before a warrant for arrest can be issued. He has, however, no influence on the discretionary decision of the aliens authority.

The regular maximum length of preparatory custody is 6 weeks (§ 57 I 2 AuslG) and may only be exceeded in exceptional cases.

§ 57 II AuslG regulates the preconditions of preventive custody. These are an existing obligation to leave and the danger of frustration of deportation. Another natural precondition is that the deportation can be implemented and is admissible.

Pursuant to § 57 II 1 Nr. 1 AuslG an refugee under the obligation to leave must be taken into preventive custody if "he is obliged to leave the country as a result of illegal entry and this can be enforced". If in the meantime a right to stay has emerged (first asylum application pursuant to § 55 AsylVfG or § 69 AuslG) sentence No.1 is no longer applicable. The assumption that the refugee will evade deportation can be proven wrong pursuant to § 57 II 3 AuslG. This will normally be the case if the reasons for the refugee’s flight were understandable.

Pursuant to § 57 II 1 Nr. 2 AuslG preventive custody must be ordered if the time limit for departure has expired and the refugee has changed address without informing the refugee authorities.

§ 57 II 1 Nr. 3 AuslG regulates cases of conscious and intentional frustration of an announced deportation.

§ 57 II 1 Nr. 4+5 contains general clauses. Precondition is that the refugee must already have evaded deportation and that the assumption based on the facts exists that he will do so. A mere refusal to leave voluntarily or lack of co-operation in obtaining necessary return documents do not justify this assumption on their own.

A special form of short-term preventive custody is regulated in § 57 II 2 AuslG. The way it is worded suggests that the only precondition is the expiry of a time limit for departure and the certainty that deportation can be effected within the next two weeks. This provision which is applied mostly in cases of collective deportation or other cases where the deportation requires a considerable amount of organisation, is very doubtful from a constitutional point of view. Its interpretation must therefore be very narrow, the principle of proportionality must be observed.

2) Duration of Custody

Pursuant to § 57 II 4 AuslG preventive custody is inadmissible if it is clear that the deportation cannot be implemented for reasons the refugee is not responsible for within the next three months. This provision applies especially if the supposed country of origin refuses to issue necessary documents.

Pursuant to § 57 III AuslG preventive custody is in regular cases limited to 6 months. It can be extended to 18 months if the refugee frustrates his deportation (§ 57 III 2 AuslG).

The following easily understandable scheme is taken from the very recommendable brochure "Anmerkungen zum Recht der Abschiebungshaft" by the legal department of the Diakonisches Werk der Evangelischen Kirche by Lothar Hinz and Gerhard Reith, which was already included in the previous edition.

II) Preparatory Custody

Precondition for preparatory custody pursuant to § 57 I AuslG is that an expulsion order has not yet been issued, but that its issuing is adequately certain and that a decision cannot be immediately taken since further investigations or a hearing of the refugee are still necessary.

If the aliens authority presents this to the detention judge in an understandable manner, he is not permitted to examine the matter any further. He is only supposed to check whether the six-week maximum length of custody is adhered to and whether a deportation would really be made substantially more complicated or be frustrated without taking the refugee into custody. Neither is the detention judge supposed to examine whether the measure intended by the aliens authority is legitimate, i.e. the question whether impediments to deportation under asylum law or other factors (e.g. the threat of death penalty) represent an obstacle to the deportation. All these factors are only supposed to be of any weight in the proceedings under aliens law or, if need be, before the administrative courts. This fact alone shows clearly the shortcomings in the system of legal protection. The law demands that the judge should close his eyes before relevant facts ; it demands a second process of law !

The detention judge is, however, supposed to determine whether a deportation would be made substantially more complicated or be frustrated without custody. When doing so, he must consider that reasons which justify a deportation do on their own not suffice to justify detention.

Detention is not necessary if a deportation is impossible within the maximum amount of time preparatory custody is permitted to last for legal or factual reasons. It is inadmissible when the alien authority had enough time to issue the intended expulsion order, but did not use this time to carry out the necessary investigations or hearings.

III) Preventive custody

Preventive custody pursuant to § 57 II AuslG has two preconditions : one the one hand the existence of an obligation to leave and on the other the danger that the deportation may be frustrated. The principle of proportionality must always be taken into account. This means, as the Federal Constitutional Court has emphasized (BverfG of 13/07/94, 2 BvL 12/93 and 2 BvL 45/93), that the mere existence of the fact that the definitional elements of § 57 II AuslG are fulfilled is not sufficient reason for preventive custody to be ordered. Even if the preconditions apply it must be examined in each individual case whether the refugee really was about to evade deportation.

1) § 57 II 1 Nr. 1 AuslG

Pursuant to § 57 II 1 Nr. 1 AuslG an refugee shall be taken into preventive custody if he entered the country illegally and therefore has an enforceable obligation to leave. This provision does not constitute a danger for refugees filing the first asylum application because as a result of a first application they acquire a temporary right to stay. It is a different matter with refugees filing a follow-up application as a follow-up application does not result in a temporary right to stay as long as the Federal Office or a court decides to carry out follow-up proceedings.

The refugee should therefore take into account that some alien authorities demand custody awaiting deportation for follow-up applicants. It is equally important to make it absolutely clear to the aliens authority that the conditions for a follow-up asylum procedure exist in order to avoid the threatened deportation. Also in this case the requirement of custody awaiting deportation (and the possibility of a deportation) must be examined and the principle of proportionality must be taken into consideration.

2) § 57 II 1 Nr. 2 AuslG

Pursuant to § 57 II 1 Nr. 2 AuslG the refugee runs a risk to be deported if the time limit in which he was to leave has expired and the refugee has changed his place of abode without informing the aliens authority of his new address. If the refugee was, however, correctly registered (i.e. if he has informed the registry office (Einwohnermeldeamt), but not the aliens authority), then custody is inadmissible because it is not required (the refugee did not attempt to evade deportation).

Custody awaiting deportation pursuant to § 57 II 1 Nr. 2 AuslG is also inadmissible if the refugee is in the custody of the authorities or if the aliens authority knows the place anyway where he stays.

3) § 57 II 1 Nr. 3 AuslG

Pursuant to § 57 II 1 Nr. 3 AuslG custody awaiting deportation shall be ordered if the refugee evaded his deportation without being imprisoned before, i.e. if he was not at the arranged place at the arranged time and if he was responsible for his absence in a blameworthy manner. Illness or other important reasons which hindered the refugee from coming are not regarded as blameworthy.

4) § 57 II 1 Nr. 4 AuslG

§ 57 II 1 Nr. 4 AuslG is a general clause which provides that custody is admissible if the refugee "evaded his deportation in any other way". In this case - just as in the case of § 57 II 1 Nr. 5 AuslG (another general clause) - there must be a well-founded suspicion based on definite facts that the refugee intends to evade deportation. The abstract possibility of evasion, an expired time limit, the fact that the refugee refuses to leave voluntarily or does not co-operate in obtaining a passport or documents necessary for return all do not suffice per se to justify custody. Also the fact that the refugee makes use of all possible legal options in order to prevent his deportation, e.g. by involving the administrative court, filing a follow-up or lodging petitions, does not justify the suspicion that the refugee will evade deportation.

What does justify custody, however, is hiding or destroying documents required for departure, church asylum, repeated leaving of the Kreis or Land where he/She is required to stay, especially if connected with temporary disappearance, and the lack of any ties to or in Germany, especially if the person in question committed criminal offences. What is decisive is the consideration of all circumstances plus the actual individual conduct.

If a refugee is already in custody and files an asylum application, the asylum application and the permission to reside thus obtained in principle (§ 55 I AuslG) does not hinder the order for or the continuation of custody awaiting deportation (§ 14 IV AsylVfG). Custody awaiting deportation ends, however, at the latest four weeks after the asylum application is submitted to the Federal Office or with the delivery of the decision of the Federal Office, unless the application was rejected as irrelevant or manifestly unfounded. This regulation is to prevent criminals and persons who were expelled from evading their deportation at the end of their stay by filing an asylum application and thus enforcing a further stay.

Pursuant to § 14 IV 2 AsylVfG the refugee must immediately be given a chance to contact a legal advisor of his choice if an order for custody awaiting deportation has been issued. Pursuant to § 71 VIII AsylVfG a follow-up asylum application does not stand in the way of the order for custody awaiting deportation. It ends, however, with a positive decision of the BAFI or a court on the carrying out of a follow-up asylum procedure. Of course also in this case all the preconditions for custody awaiting deportation must apply.

5) § 57 II 2 AuslG (short-term preventive custody)

§ 57 II 2 AuslG determines the preconditions for shirt-term custody. The refugee may be taken into preventive custody for no longer than two weeks if a time limit for departure has expired and a deportation can be enforced within two weeks with no legal or actual impediments standing in its way. There must not be any reasons for a statutory temporary suspension of deportation, the necessary travel documents must either be already available or there must be a guarantee that they will be made available within two weeks, the target country must be prepared to admit the refugee and a deportation must actually be enforceable. Only if these preconditions are fulfilled and the principle of proportionality does not stand in the way of the deportation is it admissible to order short-term custody as defined in § 57 II 2 AuslG. This provision is mainly made use of in the case of collective deportations in certain countries (e.g. Vietnam). If in the district of an aliens authority short-term preventive custody is ordered it is advisable to stay continuously in contact with the refugees authority in order to find out whether collective deportation is being prepared and whether the refugee in question is "on the list". This is the only way to avoid unpleasant surprises.

IV) Legal Remedies

Custody awaiting deportation is ordered by the detention judge.

The refugee must be given a fair hearing before the decision on custody is reached. If this is should not be the case, this omission cannot be balanced out by a hearing afterwards. A relative of the refugee or a person in whom he has confidence must be immediately informed about the judge’s decision(Art. 104 IV GG, § 6 II FEVG). It is possible to lodge a special appeal (subject to a time limit) to the judge’s decision, i.e. the issue of a warrant of arrest ® see sample form 10

The special appeal must be delivered to the competent Amtsgericht within two weeks after issue of the warrant of arrest. In the special appeal all the arguments against issuing the warrant of arrest must be presented.

The Landgericht decides on the special appeal. It must under certain circumstances grant the refugee a new hearing, especially if he complains that he was not heard completely and properly. Of course an interpreter must be present during the personal hearing if the refugee does not speak sufficiently good German.

If the Landgericht passes a negative decision, in principle a further immediate appeal is admissible. Within the framework of this appeal not the facts of the individual case, but only the correct application of the law is subject to examination. Often one even has to turn to the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) to finally receive a just decision.

The problem here, however, is that the Landgericht or Higher Regional Court often do not pass their judgement early enough (or cannot do so for the files are not immediately available). Since custody awaiting deportation is imposed only as short-term detention in most of the cases, which then is extended again and again, the Higher Regional Courts often do not come to a decision before the main proceedings are long since over, from a legal point of view.

The German departure center (Ausreisezentren)

The departure centres will house refugees whose asylum claims have been turned down, but who cannot be sent back to their countries of origin since they lack travel and identity documents. Such refugees are regarded as guilty of having deliberately thrown away their papers to escape the threat of deportation. The authorities take no account of the fact that some countries do not issue travel papers or remove them from refugees on their departure, or that some refugees could not apply for documentation due to their rapid escape.

In order to be able to deport these people, the possibility of detention pending deportation was created. This has the disadvantage for the state that it requires a judicial order, and is limited to a duration of 18 months. If no realistic chance exists of the deportation order being completed, such detention-at least in theory, although it already looks somewhat different in practice-is to be ended immediately. Otherwise it assumes the character of illegal preventative detention.

These limitations can be circumvented by the new deportation centres, since the authorities can compel refugees to live in camps - „Sammellager« - for an unlimited period until their « voluntary departure » or they are forcibly deported.

Facing repression

Previously only six deportation facilities had been established in Germany : at Minden-Luebbecke in North-Rhine Westphalia, at Ingelheim in the Rhineland-Palatinate, at Halberstadt in Saxony Anhalt and at Bramsche, Oldenburg and Braunschweig in Lower Saxony

Originally, these centres were only intended for single men, but entire families and even unaccompanied minors can now be found in this camps.

The authorities themselves create the grounds for deportation. The state government in Lower Saxony has admitted « those of working age are excluded from employment by application of aliens regulations. » In the standard letter to those facing confinement in a Sammellager, refugees can read that they are « dependent onpublic means for their living costs, and thus their illegal stay represents a burden for the country. »

Inordertoshortenthe stay of refugees by any means possible, Bramsche even receives asylum-seekers whose claims are still being processed. The same will happen at the collection camp in Fuerth.

At these « departure centres », refugees face the « subtle pressure » of being concentrated in one place, which should either encourage them to obtain a passport or induce them to depart „voluntarily« .

In practice, subtle pressure means a complete ban on undertaking work or attending German language courses, thus wearing down the refugees through inactivity. Freedom of movement is limited to the city or district in which they are registered. Social security benefits are drastically reduced and not paid in cash but goods in kind. Only the most necessary medical assistance is available and is possible only with official permission.

The meagre pocket money of 40 euros, which asylum seekeres are entitled to under asylum legislation, is either withheld from the start or is threatened to be withheld at weekly case hearings due to alleged « non-cooperation » with the authorities. Work for the benefit of the community (obligatory under asylum legislation, paying the shameful rate of one euro) is either forbidden or also used as means of applying pressure on asylum-seekers.

The destitution this produces in turn prevents refugees from seeking legal assistance, although legal action is the only redress against being sent to such a centre.

Refugees often face charges of hiding their identities when they are sent to such centres. They are forced into conditions of semi-legality, when the word « allegedly » is inserted after their name on the identity papers issued by the aliens department. This denies all those in such departure centres a residency permit and certificate of identity, thereby denying them basic legal and employment rights.

Although these are not supposed to be deportation detention centres, everything is done to lend them the character of a prison-high fences, guards, video monitoring, exit controls and checks on visitors, simple platform beds in dormitory rooms. Arbitrary room searches dispel any sense of privacy.

Effectiveness of the „departure centres« 

How effective these repressive institutions are can be seen from an evaluation paper drawn up by lawyer Martini Emden : « The clear restrictions on benefits, the exclusion from work, as well as the gradually developing consciousness of the hopelessness of their life prospects in Germany produces a certain mood of despondency and disorientation among those housed in the centres. »

Some 727 refugees were sent to the model projects at Minden-Luebbecke, Braunschweig, Oldenburg and Ingelheim, for which relatively current statistics are available, up to April 2002. Of these, 381 (52 percent) went underground, either after receiving instructions to move to one of the Sammellager or shortly after moving in. Sixteen (2.2 percent) « voluntarily » left the country and 62 (8.5 percent) were deported. The remainder were distributed between various local authorities or forced to continue living in the departure centres.

In only approximately 20 percent of cases could the refugee’s identity be definitely established.

The authorities count it as a success when a refugee goes into illegality, in preference to returning to their home country to face persecution, civil war and misery, or the undignified existence in the departure facilities, since they assume they have made an uncontrolled departure from Germany.

The authorities in any case no longer have to pay out from the public purse. As the interior ministry in Lower Saxony indicated in a study in September 2001, refugees who continue to live in Germany illegally « do not make any claim for welfare benefits ». The state government in Rhineland-Palatinate also stresses the permanent savings of social security benefits in its report.

Refugees are regarded only as an economic burden that must be eliminated through deportation or by being driving into illegality. The target is the removal of refugees from the public stage.... The abuse of their social rights is used consciously as an instrument to achieve this.

Victims

Being sent to a departure centre can threaten a refugee’s life. A Syrian refugee who abandoned his identity in the departure centre was arrested and tortured after being deported. In Minden-Luebbecke, an man who could no longer withstand the « subtle pressure » committed suicide.

Following protests by the remaining inhabitants against the inhuman conditions, which finally culminated in threats to burn down the whole facility, the departure centre was closed after 18 months. But even this was not enough for the SPD-Green state government in North Rhine-Westphalia to abandon the concept. They are now seeking new locations.

The authorities claim that resentment towards foreigners for « abusing asylum » and « obtaining residency rights through devious means » will be prevented by the creation of more departure centres. In reality, the departure facilities promote xenophobia, since the concentration of asylum-seekers in prison-like Sammellager gives rise to a general criminalisation of refugees.

A further deportation centre was openend in Fuerth/Bavaria. And there are plans to establish more in other German states, regardless of the catastrophic balance sheet of these facilities.

It is worth noting that the facility in Fuerth was the first to be opened in a state controlled by the Christian Democrats. All previous centres were established in states with social-democratic-led governments, some in coalition with the liberal Free Democratic Party or Green Party.