Ger­many refugee limit ‘legally sound, eth­i­cally ques­tion­able’

Ger­many’s con­ser­va­tive CDU/CSU par­ties have agreed on a guide­line to limit mi­gra­tion to the coun­try.While some call the move un­con­sti­tu­tional, ex­perts say the pro­posal ap­pears to be le­gal, though eth­i­cally ques­tion­able

The Daily News Egypt - - International -

DW—Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, who heads the Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union (CDU), and Chris­tian So­cial Union (CSU) leader Horst See­hofer pre­sented a pol­icy sug­ges­tion on Mon­day roughly two years in the mak­ing.The par­ties fi­nally reached an agree­ment on how to deal with refugees want­ing to en­ter Ger­many.

The move comes as the two con­ser­va­tive par­ties aim present a united front ahead of ex­ploratory coali­tion talks with their po­ten­tial gov­ern­ment part­ners, the Greens and the lib­eral Free Democrats (FDP).

The Chris­tian Democrats and the CSU, the CDU’s Bavar­ian sis­ter party, want to in­tro­duce a guide­line that lim­its the num­ber of peo­ple taken in for hu­man­i­tar­ian rea­sons to 200,000 per year. This fig­ure in­cludes asy­lum ap­pli­cants, refugees as de­fined by the Geneva Con­ven­tion and peo­ple who at­tempt to come to Ger­many through fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion ap­pli­ca­tions, See­hofer said.The limit does not ap­ply to highly skilled work­ers.

Both par­ties were care­ful not to di­rectly men­tion a “mi­gra­tion cap,” a term that has been at the cen­ter of heated dis­cus­sions in Ger­many for years.The CSU had orig­i­nally threat­ened it would not be part of a gov­ern­ment with­out it, while the Greens cat­e­gor­i­cally re­ject the idea.

De­spite its crafters avoid­ing rigid ter­mi­nol­ogy, the pro­posal would still set a max­i­mum num­ber of mi­grants per­mit­ted into the coun­try.The reg­u­la­tion does al­low more refugees to come to Ger­many beyond the stated limit, but only if oth­ers leave: If 1,000 mi­grants whose asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions were re­jected left the coun­try in a given year, 201,000 mi­grants to­tal would be al­lowed in, for ex­am­ple.

But even with this qual­i­fi­ca­tion, le­gal ex­perts have pointed out sev­eral laws that such a limit would be in con­flict with.

EU law: No one in need of pro­tec­tion must be turned away

“We have com­mon EU asy­lum poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions that pre­de­ter­mine how peo­ple who come ask­ing for pro­tec­tion as refugees must be treated,” Thomas Giegerich,pro­fes­sor for Euro­pean,in­ter­na­tional and pub­lic law at the Univer­sity of Saar­land, told DW.

“EU law does not in­clude a mi­gra­tion cap for peo­ple in need of pro­tec­tion,” he said.“If some­one comes from a coun­try in the throes of civil war and it’s clear that they can­not go back there, they have the right to be pro­tected and must not be turned away.”

This, Giegerich em­pha­sises, is not only true for those peo­ple who are per­son­ally per­se­cuted and qual­ify for asy­lum. It also ap­plies to refugees flee­ing vi­o­lence in their home coun­tries who would be granted sub­sidiary pro­tec­tion.And all asy­lum ap­pli­cants – even if it turns out they do not qual­ify – have the right to have their in­di­vid­ual case ex­am­ined thor­oughly ac­cord­ing to the Ger­man con­sti­tu­tion, or Ba­sic Law.

‘Eth­i­cally ques­tion­able pol­i­tics’

Thus turn­ing some­one away at the bor­der and send­ing them back to a wartorn coun­try where their life would be in dan­ger,just be­cause a quota has been reached, would ap­pear to vi­o­late EU law. But the agree­ment the CDU/CSU pre­sented on Mon­day is worded in a way that shows both par­ties want to pre­vent a sit­u­a­tion where Ger­many would have shut the door on des­per­ate mi­grants.

It states that they want to “achieve” a limit of 200,000 mi­grants, but that if an un­fore­seen sit­u­a­tion oc­curred, the num­ber could be ad­justed up­ward or down­ward.

To get to a point where the num­ber of refugees and asy­lum ap­pli­cants does not ex­ceed 200,000,the con­ser­va­tives in­tro­duced a list of mea­sures in­clud­ing fight­ing the causes of flight, pro­tect­ing the EU’s ex­ter­nal bor­ders and adding more na­tions to the “safe coun­try of ori­gin” list for quicker asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tion re­jec­tions.

“Th­ese mea­sures are sup­posed to make sure peo­ple who’d have a right to pro­tec­tion don’t even make it to our bor­der,” Giegerich said.“Legally, that’s most likely a sound way to go, but it makes for eth­i­cally ques­tion­able pol­i­tics.”


Po­ten­tial le­gal ac­tion

in­di­vid­ual’s hu­man

rights can­not be in­fringed by a quota,” Marei Pelzer, le­gal pol­icy ad­vi­sor at refugee ac­tivist or­gan­i­sa­tion Pro Asyl, told DW. “This might work dif­fer­ently for work­ers’ mi­gra­tion laws, where the state can con­trol the num­bers ac­cord­ing to the de­mand in cer­tain fields.But it’s not an op­tion when it comes to pro­tect­ing hu­man rights.”

Pelzer be­lieves that, should the con­ser­va­tives’ guide­lines ac­tu­ally be put into mo­tion by Ger­many’s next gov­ern­ment, the coun­try would face sig­nif­i­cant le­gal ac­tion. If refugees were to be de­nied, they could, ac­cord­ing to Pelzer, re­fer to the fun­da­men­tal right to asy­lum in the Ger­man con­sti­tu­tion and to sev­eral laws on the Euro­pean level - like the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights.

“Of course peo­ple could sue,” Pelzer said.

But be­fore it ever gets this far, the CDU/CSU would have to be suc­cess­ful in con­vinc­ing their po­ten­tial coali­tion part­ners that a mi­gra­tion limit is a good idea. Right now, that does not seem likely.

EU law says that peo­ple must not be sent back into a war­zone like Syria, where their lives would be at risk

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