Germany’s lower house, the Bundestag parliament, has passed legislation that is expected to enable easier and swifter deportations of rejected asylum seekers. The move comes as the ruling coalition government seeks to address the irregular migration crisis.
The bill passed on votes from the three ruling parties. It had earlier been taken off the agenda at short notice in the last session a few days before Christmas because one of the coalition partners had demanded changes to the legislation.
Repatriation Improvement Act set to enable easier deportations
The opposition Christian Democrats have, however, opposed the measure, criticising it as ineffective. Some of the provisions on the legislation – dubbed the Repatriation Improvement Act – include longer periods of pre-deportation custody.
The measure is aimed at offering authorities more time to complete the process before having to release an individual. The legal maximum duration of detention ahead of expulsion is set to be extended to 28 days from 10 days.
In addition, the bill is also expected to give authorities more powers when it comes to conducting searches – for instance, now being allowed to enter rooms of shared accommodation and not just the room of an individual getting deported.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser defended the bill in the parliament debate on Thursday evening, noting the legislation is set to ensure that people not having the right to stay can leave the country faster. People could be removed “faster and more efficiently“, she added.
Rescue groups say they are “horrified”
The legislation is also likely to help authorities in the fight against organised crime and, in particular, human trafficking. Faeser expects the move to make returns “much easier” once again and predicted it can lead to “significant numbers” of deportations this year.
But the recent development has ruled rights groups. Sea rescue group SOS Humanity said they are “horrified” that individuals trying to escape concerning situations and those offering them humanitarian aid can face prison sentences.