Although the German Federal Foreign Office has declared Syria unsafe for returns, Interior ministers of the German federal states are pushing for the return of certain individuals back to Syria.

During last week’s council of interior ministers, the extension of the general ban on deportations to Syria for an additional six months was approved until June 2020. The interior ministers further instructed the Federal Foreign Office to update its evaluation of the situation in the country by that date and to consider possibilities for returning certain individuals, namely persons who pose a threat to national security, who have been condemned for committing serious crimes and/or who have visited Syria. ECRE member PRO ASYL is concerned that many refugees will be left with insecurities about their future and recalls that returning any person to Syria would constitute a clear violation of international and European law.

Conservative forces have been pushing for deportations to Syria since November 2018. However, several sources, including the German Foreign Office, continue to document alarming and persisting human rights violations in Syria, ranging from massive unlawful arrest and detention practices, the lack of protection for persons being persecuted across the territory and the conduct of politically motivated security screenings by the authorities of persons who wish to return back to the country. Since 2012, more than 144,000 people have reportedly been imprisoned or disappeared and 17,000 people have been tortured to death.

In addition to adequate conditions in the country of return, ECRE has named three prerequisites for return that need to be in place in Europe for return to be legitimate: fair and consistent asylum decision-making, dignified return procedures, and partnerships with third countries that are transparent and respect fundamental rights.

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Photo: (CC) Tim Reckmann, February 2019

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.