Germany’s federal police shackled asylum seekers in more than 300 cases of deportations on charter flights last year, the German government said.
The German media group Funke Mediengruppe reports that there were more than 300 cases of restraint of people during deportation flights from Germany over an 11-month period last year. The report refers to a reply from the German federal ministry of the interior to a question from the left-wing party, Die Linke.
Between January and November 2018, federal police used belts, handcuffs, tape as well as "headgear and bite blocks" in 306 cases, the interior ministry said.
The most commonly used tool were so-called "restraint belts" (216 times); shackles were used in eight cases.
According to the report, the government called the course of action a "valid use of means of coercion" by the police. In "each individual case," authorities had findings that necessitated an "escort to avert danger."
'Appalling brutalization of deportation policy'
German politician Ulla Jelpke of Die Linke called the "practically routine" restraint of asylum seekers during deportation flights an "expression of an appalling brutalization of deportation policy."
Authorities in Germany deported a total of 6,950 people on 157 charter flights between January and November 2018 back to their home country or another EU member state. Destinations included Rome, Kabul, Tbilisi, Islamabad and Accra. This means that there were about two cases of people being restrained on an average deportation flight, and roughly one in 20 deportees was tied up in some way.
According to German authorities, there are currently almost 60,000 foreigners who are required to leave the country. Deportations fail repeatedly due to people going into hiding or having their documents go missing, or authorities not adhering to deadlines, the report said.
Refugee aid workers have criticized the deportations, especially those of well-integrated, pregnant or traumatized people, as well as families.
Germany’s governing coalition aims to deport more foreigners obliged to leave the country, interior minister Horst Seehofer and other politicians have said.