German lawmakers are pushing for tougher rules for asylum seekers from Morocco and Algeria, with plans to set up one-stop reception and deportation centres from which they could be quickly expelled from the country.
Berlin now plans to add Algeria and Morocco to a list of so-called “safe countries” from where migrants are unlikely to be granted asylum. However critics have complained about the arbitrary arrest and prosecution in Algeria of political and trade union activists and of Morocco’s harsh policing methods in the Western Sahara.
The move comes as the government is being criticised for its open-door refugee policy after hundreds of women were robbed and sexually assaulted on New Year’s Eve in Cologne.
The assaults were allegedly carried out by what was described as Arab and North African men. On Saturday, police in Dusseldorf conducted a major operation against North African gangs suspected of robbery and drug dealing. Forty people were arrested.
The change in attitude has been criticised by Human Rights organisations:
“And we don’t want now because of what happened in Paris and what happened in Cologne suddenly to link refugees who are fleeing terrorism, to be linked up then with some kind of security threat,” said William Lacy Swing, Director of International Organisation for Migration.
The number of Algerian asylum seekers arriving in Germany rose to 2,296 in December from 847 in June, while those from Morocco jumped to 2,896 from 368, according to the interior ministry.
Germany has said it wants to free up resources to help people fleeing war-ravaged countries such as Syria, with Syrians making up about 40% of the nearly 1.1 million people who arrived last year.
Raid in Dusseldorf targets Cologne's NYE attackers https://t.co/3aEe0WRpfA— Ruptly (@Ruptly) January 17, 2016