Germany is set to make it easier to deport failed asylum seekers to North Africa.
Its lower house of parliament has approved a draft law declaring Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia as safe countries.
But the controversial legislation – slammed by human rights groups and the opposition Greens and hard-left – still needs an upper house green light.
“This is a black Friday for the basic right of asylum in Germany. This draft bill is a further mutilation of the asylum law in Germany,” said Andrej Hunko from the opposition Left Party.
The law would allow authorities to speed up the processing of asylum applicants from the countries declared safe and send them back if rejected.
But the government commissioner for human rights says there are “proven” and “documented” violations in all three – and voted against the bill.
Germany tightened its asylum rules in January, in a bid to stem a massive migrant influx. More than one million people entered the country last year.