A serious crime like murder or multiple minor offences could lead to deportation under the plan
A serious crime like murder or multiple minor offences could lead to deportation under the plan

Germany’s national criminal police agency the BKA has proposed a points system for law-breaking asylum seekers. Under the proposal, those who accrue 60 points would be deported.

German interior ministers are debating a proposed penalty system similar to the system for traffic violations under which asylum seekers would accumulate 'points' for breaking the law. The system would mean migrants could be deported without having been convicted in a court of law. The idea has received in principle support from the federal interior minister, Horst Seehofer.

The national criminal police agency, BKA, put the idea this week to the state interior ministers meeting in Magdeburg. The head of the agency, Holger Münch, said the aim was to identify serious offenders and if possible to remove them from the country.

One state interior minister, Boris Pistorius from the Social Democrat party, was quick to support the proposal, saying it wouldn’t stigmatize refugees but would help to highlight the distinction between those who are law-abiding and those who are "really dangerous."

Deportation as a 'solution'

A number of serious crimes committed by asylum seekers in cities and towns across Germany have received much publicity this year. In March, a young Afghan asylum seeker received a life sentence for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old student, Maria L., in Freiburg. The cases have led many politicians and others to call for stricter penalties and faster deportations of asylum seekers. 

Under German law, foreigners who are convicted and sentenced to three years or longer must be deported. Those who receive shorter sentences or are considered a threat to public order and safety may be deported, but the decision is made by the relevant German authority. Someone whose status as a refugee has been recognized can only be deported if there is an acute threat to public security which is considered to outweigh the person's right to asylum.

How the points system would work

It's not clear exactly which offences would be covered by the proposed penalty system. The details revealed so far are as follows: 

  • The more serious the offence, the more points the perpetrator would 'get'.  

  • Serious offences, such as traffic violations, would be worth one point. 
  • An offence that would lead to a one-year prison term, like causing bodily harm or a drug-related offence, would equate to ten points. 

  • Murder would be worth 70 points. 

  • Those who reach 60 points would be deported.

In 2017, the BKA registered about 2,800 asylum seeker suspects who had committed more than ten offences, according to the Berlin daily "Tagesspiegel". These figures do not include instances in which asylum seekers breached their "Residenzpflicht", a law which prohibits them from traveling outside a designated area.

Legal hurdles

The fact that the proposed system would allocate points based on police evidence, rather than a court judgment, has led to criticism. The deputy Parliamentary leader of the Greens, Konstantin von Notz, says the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" applies to everyone, including foreigners, so until a court has found an asylum seeker has broken the law, they cannot be penalized.

There are further legal obstacles to increasing deportations of asylum seekers, even those who have been convicted of crimes in Germany. It is against international law to return a person to a country where they would be in danger. This means Germany cannot deport anyone to Syria, for example. 

 

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