19.07.2012

PRO ASYL welcomes the German Federal Court decision, deeming the amount of social benefits that asylum seekers receive unconstitutional. At present, asylum seekers only receive 60 per cent of what is considered to be the margin of subsistence in Germany. “This judgment from the Court puts an end to years of injustice. Refugees are not second class human beings”, commented Günter Burkhardt, PRO ASYL Secretary General. The Court ruled that the relevant legislation has to be overhauled, in order to enable refugees to live in dignity. The Constitution protects human dignity, not only the dignity of German citizens.

The Constitutional Court has clarified that the benefits granted to asylum seekers, violate the basic right to a humane level of existence. “Human dignity cannot be compromised due to migration politics”, the Court stated. It decided that there will be a transitional regulation, which will align the benefits that asylum seekers receive to the same level of social welfare payments for German citizens. The Court pointed out that in order to recalculate the rates the government will have to take the concrete needs of people into account. 

PRO ASYL very much welcomes this decision. However, an increase in social benefits for asylum seekers will not be enough to create decent reception conditions. PRO ASYL demands that the current legislation governing material reception conditions is scrapped. Refugees should not be forced to live in camps any longer. The degrading practice to fob them off with food packages has to stop.

The relevant legislation stems from a time when deterrence of refugees at all costs was the guiding principle of German politics. Whoever wants to continue these policies today, humiliates people whose protection needs are obvious – refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia or Eritrea. People who are forced to flee from these countries will not be deterred by substandard food packages or shabby accommodation. “The logic of deterrence does not work. It degrades refugees and endangers their mental health”, said Günter Burkhardt.

PRO ASYL provided legal aid for the appellants in this case.  

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