People deported from Germany at Kabul airport on December 15th, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Omar Sobhani

Last Monday, a second deportation flight departed from Frankfurt Airport, touching down in Kabul on January 24th. As the political agenda of forcing further deportations to a country at war continues, a closer look at the identities of the people affected by the deportation in December reveals who they were.

The first of Germany’s collec­ti­ve depor­ta­ti­ons to Afgha­ni­stan took place on Decem­ber 14th, 2016. 50 peop­le were sup­po­sed to be on board of the depor­ta­ti­on flight from Frank­furt to Kabul; in the end the­re were only 34. The depor­ta­ti­ons of the others could be stop­ped – in some cases only very last minute.

All offenders? Certainly not!

On Decem­ber 14th, a rumour star­ted to cir­cu­la­te, accord­ing to which every sin­gle one of the depor­tees was an offen­der. In a later press release, the Federal Minis­ter for the Inte­rior, de Mai­ziè­re, sta­ted that »about a third« had com­mit­ted cri­mes and tal­ked about a who­le host of accu­sa­ti­ons, without, howe­ver, giving any fur­ther details. So, who are the­se peop­le who were depor­ted or were sup­po­sed to be?

PRO ASYL has – more or less detail­ed – infor­ma­ti­on from a varie­ty of sources on 23 of the affec­ted peop­le, some of whom were depor­ted, some of whom were part of the group who­se depor­ta­ti­ons could be pre­ven­ted for the time being.

The reports avail­ab­le to us paint a very broad and hete­ro­ge­ne­ous pic­tu­re: The peop­le are bet­ween 21 and 57 years of age and had most­ly been in Ger­ma­ny for bet­ween two and five years; some even lon­ger. Some of them had star­ted appren­ti­ce­ships or were alrea­dy in employ­ment. Many were in medi­cal care, for instance for psy­cho­lo­gi­cal issu­es. For most of the­se 23 peop­le the­re is no evi­dence of any offending.

»It is clear that the­re is an attempt to tar­nish the ent­i­re group of depor­tees with the same brush and to crea­te a gene­ral sus­pi­ci­on of »delin­quen­cy«. This is done in order to build public accep­t­ance for depor­ta­ti­ons to a regi­on of cri­sis and war.«

A press review of individual cases

General suspicion is created against the entire group

Among the depor­tees, the­re were inde­ed some indi­vi­du­als who had com­mit­ted cri­mes. Howe­ver, the num­ber of offen­ders among the group remains com­ple­te­ly unclear, as does the seve­ri­ty of the alle­ged offences.

So far, inves­ti­ga­ti­ons have only reve­a­led that at least one per­son was collec­ted direct­ly from detenti­on in Ham­burg, and that – accord­ing to an infor­ma­ti­on request at the Minis­try for the Inte­rior in North Rhi­ne-West­pha­lia – five of the depor­tees from that regi­on were »delin­quents«, alt­hough appar­ent­ly only three of tho­se had been con­vic­ted by a court of law, while two court pro­ce­du­res were still ongo­ing. This poses the ques­ti­on why the term »delin­quent« is used at all in the case of ongo­ing legal proceedings.

»One thing is clear: Sepa­ra­te inves­ti­ga­ti­ons into each indi­vi­du­al case – the exis­tence of which was publicly asser­ted by the federal sta­tes – have not yet taken place at all.«

The­re is a clear attempt to crea­te a gene­ral sus­pi­ci­on of »delin­quen­cy« for the ent­i­re group of depor­tees. By fur­ther stres­sing the fact that the depor­tees are »young, sin­gle men« the inhi­bi­ti­on thres­hold for depor­ta­ti­ons to a war-torn and cri­sis-rid­den regi­on is lowe­red and public accep­t­ance for such a prac­ti­ce is created.

What is more, even depor­ta­ti­ons of young, sin­gle men or offen­ders are ques­tion­ab­le, as the affec­ted peop­le are knowin­gly sent into life-threa­tening situa­tions. Fur­ther­mo­re, such depor­ta­ti­ons equa­te to dou­ble jeopardy.

Which federal regions are carrying out deportations?

The peop­le affec­ted by the depor­ta­ti­ons in Decem­ber were sent by Bava­ria (8), Ham­burg (7), North Rhi­ne-West­pha­lia (10), Baden-Wuer­t­tem­berg (unknown), Hes­sia (pro­bab­ly 4) and Saar­land (1). Bre­men, Ber­lin, Lower Sax­o­ny, Thu­rin­gia and Schles­wig-Hol­stein cur­r­ent­ly do not car­ry out depor­ta­ti­ons of Afghan refu­gees, while Rhi­ne­land-Pala­ti­na­te only plans to deport »offen­ders and per­sons con­sti­tu­ting a thre­at«, but no others. The plans of Sax­o­ny, Sax­o­ny-Anhalt, Meck­len­burg-Wes­tern Pome­ra­nia and Bran­den­burg remain unclear. In addi­ti­on, Schles­wig-Hol­stein is pushing for a nati­on­wi­de ban on depor­ta­ti­ons.

The iden­ti­ties of tho­se indi­vi­du­als depor­ted on Janu­a­ry 23rd also remain unclear. What is cer­tain, espe­cial­ly given the approach taken with December’s depor­ta­ti­ons, is that sepa­ra­te inves­ti­ga­ti­ons into each indi­vi­du­al case – the exis­tence of which was publicly asser­ted by the federal sta­tes – have clear­ly not taken place. In addi­ti­on, the peop­le affec­ted face an uncer­tain future in a high­ly unsta­ble country.

Scant support for returnees

Media reports on December’s depor­tees give a clear impres­si­on about the lack of sup­port given to them upon their return to Afgha­ni­stan. If at all, shel­ter is pro­vi­ded only for a mat­ter of weeks, and finan­cial sup­port is very low, even for Afghan stan­dards. What com­pounds the pro­blem is that cur­r­ent­ly thousands of Afghans are for­ced to return to their home coun­try from neigh­bou­ring nati­ons such as Paki­stan – their situa­ti­on is equal­ly precarious.

»»In the opi­ni­on of the UNHCR, a who­le-sale approach that desi­gna­tes cer­tain are­as as safe and accep­ta­ble inter­nal alter­na­ti­ves for pro­tec­tion – with regards to the risk of human rights vio­la­ti­ons as rele­vant for pro­tec­tion of refu­gees or sub­si­dia­ry pro­tec­tion – is not pos­si­ble, given the cur­rent situa­ti­on in Afghanistan.««

UNHCR report to the Federal Minis­try of the Interior

UNHCR: Armed conflict affects the entire state territory

In any case, by car­ry­ing out the­se depor­ta­ti­ons, the Federal Minis­try of the Inte­rior is com­ple­te­ly igno­ring the secu­ri­ty situa­ti­on in Afgha­ni­stan. Even a spe­cial­ly com­mis­sio­ned UNHCR report can­not deter de Mai­ziè­re, the Federal Minis­ter for the Inte­rior, from his path – des­pi­te the fact that this report clear­ly illus­tra­tes the situa­ti­on on the ground.

The report sta­tes that in the UNHCR’s opi­ni­on, »with refe­rence to the inter­pre­ta­ti­on of the term ‘inter­nal armed con­flict’ by the Euro­pean Court of Jus­ti­ce in the case Dia­ki­té« […] »the ent­i­re sta­te ter­ri­to­ry of Afgha­ni­stan« is »affec­ted by an inter­nal armed con­flict as per arti­cle 15c of the EU qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on directive«.

In a press release, PRO ASYL again urgent­ly calls upon the federal sta­tes to immedia­te­ly cea­se pre­pa­ra­ti­ons for depor­ta­ti­ons to Afghanistan.

We have publis­hed advice for Afghan refu­gees and their advi­sors here.