Deportation from Germany | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/M.Kappeler
Deportation from Germany | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa/M.Kappeler

The German Foreign Ministry says risks are still too great to send migrants back to Syria. But Germany's state interior ministers have said they have agreed to return felons convicted of serious crimes.

Interior ministers from Germany's 16 federal states agreed at their annual meeting Thursday to relax a moratorium on deportations to Syria.

The chairman of the "Innenministerkonferenz" (interior ministers' conference), Hans-Joachim Grote said there was cross-party consensus.

"The ban on deportations to Syria would stay, except for dangerous criminals," he said. "I don't think we could convey to people here that someone who commits a serious crime can still enjoy refugee protection. At some point, we have to take away those rights." Grote said.

However, he acknowledged there would be "practical problems" in implementing the plans.

"We do not have a contact person in Syria at the moment," he said. "But there is a desire to deport Syrian felons, as is the case with Afghanistan." 

And there is a further stumbling block. The Foreign Ministry says that there is no region in Syria where refugees can return without risk.

"Those who are known to be from the opposition or dissident — or deemed as such — face sanctions and repression [in Syria]," according to a ministry report made public at the start of the month.

Author: Shamil Shams

First published: December 5, 2019

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