22 civil society organizations in Germany have signed an open letter to federal Members of Parliament, calling on them to reject a draft law aimed at facilitating deportations of rejected asylum seekers.
The organizations are calling on MPs not to pass the "Orderly Return" bill, due to be debated by the parliamentary committee on internal affairs on Monday. The law, introduced by the German interior minister, Horst Seehofer, would make it harder for rejected asylum seekers to avoid deportation, and would see them detained in regular prisons before being deported.
The civil society organizations opposed to the bill include Amnesty International, Pro Asyl and the Christian welfare organization Diakonie. In the open letter, they say that the law would result in "tens of thousands of people in Germany in permanent fear of imprisonment and deportation and living in a state of hopelessness."
The letter adds that the law would "permanently exclude many refugees from participating in social life, it would impose disproportionate penalties and a limitless extension of the grounds for detention."
The groups also argue that deportees cannot legally be kept in the same facilities as sentenced offenders.
The open letter comes two weeks after the EU Human Rights Commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic, also wrote to the chair of the German parliamentary committee on internal affairs, expressing concern about the draft law.
The draft includes a provision to make information about planned deportations a state secret. Mijatovic warned that this could criminalize non-government organizations that are playing a "watchdog" role. She said it could also deny migrants accurate information about when they were due to be deported.
Last year, 31,000 deportations from Germany failed. The main reasons were unresolved identities and missing travel documents.
You can read the letter from Amnesty International and 21 other organizations here.