Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Germany to ease deportation rules after Cologne attacks

Published:Wednesday | January 13, 2016 | 1:00 AM

BERLIN (AP):

Germany will make it easier to deport criminal foreigners following public outrage over the New Year's Eve assaults in Cologne, officials said yesterday.

Police say 553 criminal complaints have been filed in connection with the assaults, with about 45 per cent involving allegations of sexual offences, and most of the suspects identified so far are foreign nationals. Many asylum-seekers who commit crimes currently avoid deportation because the danger they face in their home country is considered greater than the reason for deporting them.

"With this proposal we are significantly lowering the hurdles for the possible expulsion of foreigners who have committed crimes in Germany," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin.

The changes, which have to be approved by the Cabinet and Parliament, would mean that even a suspended prison sentence would be grounds for deportation if someone is found guilty of certain crimes. These include homicide, bodily harm, sexual assault, violent theft and serial shoplifting. Youth sentences would be covered too.

A sentence of more than one year would further increase the likelihood of deportation, de Maiziere said.

HARD BUT RIGHT RESPONSE

"That's a hard but right response by the State to those who are seeking protection here, but think they can commit crimes" without consequences for their right to remain in Germany, he said.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that public pressure following the Cologne assaults had played a role in getting the plan agreed so quickly.

"We owe this to the victims of these serious crimes," he said, adding that the measures were also necessary "to protect the overwhelming majority of innocent refugees in Germany. They don't deserve to be lumped together with criminal foreigners."