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Minimum age prohibition prevents child detention in Germany
- Another approach that certain Member States use to reduce the risk of arbitrary detention of children is setting, by law or policy, a minimum age under which a child cannot be detained.
This is usually done for unaccompanied children, although Germany also has examples of policies concerning children accompanied by a parent. For example, in Schleswig-Holstein, mothers raising a child who is less than 10 years of age are not detained pending deportation; in Thuringia, single parents raising a child who is less than 7 years of age are not detained pending deportation.117
Regional provisions to prevent detention of unaccompanied children in Germany
- In Germany, the possibility of detaining unaccompanied children pending removal depends on the different regional provisions. For example, Lower Saxony,112 North Rhine-Westphalia,113 Rhineland- Palatinate114 and Saxony-Anhalt115 do not in principle detain unaccompanied children pending deportation; neither does Hamburg, unless they have committed a criminal offence.116
Prohibition of immigration detention of unaccompanied minors during asylum procedures
- Under the Asylum Act (Asylgesetz), Section 47, detention of unaccompanied minors undergoing asylum procedures is not allowed in Germany. Instead, the law provides for their stay in reception centres. However, detention of unaccompanied minors in return procedures is permitted under federal law. This is reflected in the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz), last amended on 22 December 2016 (BGBl. I S. 3155), Section 62 read together with the General Administrative Regulations relating to the Residence (Allgemeine Verwaltungsvorschrift zum Aufenthaltsgesetz), 26 October 2009 at 62.0.5. Policy varies somewhat between different Länder (states), and some prohibit detention of unaccompanied minors altogether.
Germany screening and referral by healthcare for trafficked persons
- In Germany, identification by healthcare staff depends on the local/regional networks. In Germany, referrals are organised at Länder level, where in most cases, cooperation agreements between specialised counselling centres, police, federal level authorities (e.g. women affairs, social affairs) and other actors have been set up. Victims are referred to the counselling centres for support in legal and other issues. Asylum case officers are also instructed to inform a counselling centre in cases of trafficking, however, according to the experience of the counselling centres, this is not very often the case in practice. A majority of counselling centres for trafficking victims report a lack of regular access to reception and detention facilities, although their social workers often identify trafficking victims. They can reach potential victims only indirectly by offering training to the staff and volunteers working at the reception centres.
Trained case managers for vulnerable migrants in Germany
- In Germany, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has specially trained case managers for children, victims of gender-based persecution as well as victims of torture, traumatised asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking. In their branch offices, however, the same officer is often responsible for all these vulnerable people. UNICEF supports the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth to improve the protection and identification of vulnerable children and women at reception centres.
Residence determinations and reporting requirements in Germany
- The following alternatives can be applied, depending on the respective Federal State: Requirement to reside at a specific address (strict residence requirement), Obligation to surrender passport or travel documents, Reporting requirements i.e. the obligation to periodically inform the foreigners authorities within the monitoring of one's residence and the foreigners authorities must be notified if the immigrant plans to leave the district for more than 3 days.
Education support for refugees
- Participating universities commit to granting full or partial fee waivers to Syrian students for at least one academic year.139 The Platform also administers an Emergency Fund which seeks donations and grants to support the scholarship program and provide additional assistance to students, such as language courses.140 Over 100 Syrian students have benefitted from the scholarship program to date. Most are studying in Portugal, but scholarships have also been offered in a range of other countries including Lebanon, the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Iraq, Argentina, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.141 The Platform is aiming to provide 700 new scholarships for Syrian students during the 2015-16 academic year.142
Employment initatives for asylum seekers in Germany
- In response to record numbers of people arriving in Germany to seek asylum, several German businesses have implemented initiatives to assist new arrivals to find employment. Automotive corporation Daimler is offering ‘bridge internships’ for refugees and people seeking asylum. The 14-week program consists of a practical component in production operations and German language classes, where participants also practice job interviews and prepare job applications. Daimler reports that ‘nearly all 40 participants of the rst program will receive offers from temporary employment agencies for continued employment in [the] industry or in a particular trade or craft or will get a vocational training opportunity at Daimler’. Telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom offers three-month paid internships to refugees and people seeking asylum, in areas such as IT, project management, customer service, marketing and human resources. Participants are assigned a ‘buddy’ to support them throughout the internship. Steel manufacturer ThyssenKrupp is offering 150 apprenticeships, 230 internships and additional positions for skilled workers and graduates to refugees throughout Germany. The company has also called on the German Government to provide language courses for refugees to support their transition to the workplace. Engineering conglomerate Siemens has committed to a long term program for supporting refugees to nd employment in Germany, offering a paid internship program for people who are still in the process of seeking asylum and establishing special classes designed to ‘lay the foundation for a successful career start’, with a particular focus on German language skills and vocational preparation. Other businesses offering internships and other forms of employment support to refugees in Germany include the chemical giant BASF, auto parts and tyre supplier Continental, software company SAP SE and railway operator Deutsche Bahn.
Avoiding detention before return for unaccompanied children in EU Member States
- However, in contrast, in several (Member) States UAMs cannot be detained whilst awaiting return (Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal). Belgium and France do no detain UAMs awaiting return except in the following situations:
In Belgium, UAMs who arrive at the border and whose age is doubtful can be held in detention for three working days;
In France, UAMs apprehended at the border and refused entry are put in a waiting area before their departure for a maximum of 20 days. As mentioned above, the return of the UAMs must take into account the best interests of the child. In practice, this return procedure is rarely implemented.
In Germany, the possibility of detaining an unaccompanied minor before return differs across Federal Länder: whilst some Länder do not allow detention of UAMs, other set a lower age limit for detention of children (14-16 years depending on the Länder), or allow for detaining a UAM only if s/he has a criminal record.
In the Slovak Republic, UAMs are never detained.
Quota system for asylum seekers in Germany
- An asylum-seeker distribution system operates in Germany where a quota is calculated on an annual basis per Länder, taking into account their tax receipts and population size (“Koenigsteiner Quota”). Asylum-seekers are assigned to an initial reception centre using a nationwide distribution system called “EASY”. The individual designation of the residence is based on the available reception capacities in one of the 22 initial reception centers; the country of origin of the asylum-seeker; or the presence of core family members in one of the German individual states (spouses, minor children, or – in case of minor asylum applicants - their parents). In cases where other relatives are present in Germany, asylum applicants may apply to be re-allocated to another Länder. With the exception of the so-called “city states” (i.e. Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen where individuals are generally directly allocated to collective accommodation centers or private housing), asylum-seekers in Germany usually stay for a minimum period of 6 weeks in the Initial reception Centre (IRC), where basic provisions are provided in the form of non-cash assistance. Compulsory accommodation in those centers ends if either the asylum-seeker is granted refugee status or temporary protection; if he/she is granted residence on account of marriage in Germany; has received a binding decree ordering his/her deportation that cannot, in the foreseeable future, be executed; or, in any case, no later than 3 months after the asylum application was lodged. Thereafter, asylum-seekers awaiting successful completion of their asylum procedure are usually transferred to open collective accommodation centers (CACs), run by private companies or charity organizations under contract with the municipality, or are privately accommodated. There are restrictions on movement to the district of the federal state in which the centre is located. Exceptions to this rule are authorised. Practice varies by federal state, but generally asylum seekers are not supposed to travel outside their district of assigned residence (some districts are no larger than 15 sq km) without special permission from the competent local aliens authority. They are subject to detention as a penalty if they do so.
Open return centres with reporting requirements in Germany
- In Germany, special return centres (‘Ausreisezentren’) have been established in a few federal States to accommodate undocumented illegal migrants, including persons found not to be in need of international protection and who refuse to return. Persons of the above-mentioned category are ordered to take up residence in these Centres, which are formally open. The residents, however, have to report on a regular basis (e.g. three times per week) and they are informed about their legal situation in regular conversations with a view to obtaining their cooperation in the administrative process and encouraging their departure from Germany. The standard of amenities in such Centres is generally set at a level that also acts as a disincentive to remain in Germany – that is, only basic needs are met.177 Nongovernmental critics of this policy call for a greater use of the concept of ‘supported voluntary return’ – meaning the provision of counselling and incentives, including financial and practical assistance and vocational training, to promote mandatory return with the consent and cooperation of the person to be returned. This concept has seen a revival recently in Germany, with several projects at the Länder or district level, in most cases jointly carried out with various nongovernmental partners and co-funded by the European Refugee Fund. These projects are succeeding in minimising the use of pre-deportation detention, but also helping people see when return home may be in their best interests, and to make this a dignified process.