Deportations to Bulgaria: German courts and their converse decisions

Written by on April 19, 2017 in Europe - Comments Off on Deportations to Bulgaria: German courts and their converse decisions

Just twelve days ago, the Administrative Court of Hanover in Germany decided, a deportation of a 19-year-old Kurdish refugee from Iraq to Bulgaria was unlawful. In its decision with registration number “Az. 15 B 2468/17”, the court cited the following reasons:

>> The existence-threatening, inhumane and humiliating treatment of refugees in Bulgaria

>> Refugees in Bulgaria had a high risk of becoming homeless

>> For refugees in Bulgaria, there was no access to the job market

>> There were no social benefits for them either

>> There was hardly any help for them

According to the Dublin Agreement, refugees who were granted asylum in an E.U. state, such as Bulgaria, will not be granted asylum in a second one, such as Germany, but will rather be deported from the latter, in this case to Bulgaria.

But, in the past year, several German courts took decisions of this kind, in cases in which the plaintiffs, like the Kurdish refugee mentioned, had already been granted asylum in Bulgaria. In these cases, hardships actually endured in Bulgaria, or hardships which might be endured, made judges decide against deportations to Bulgaria.

This applied to cases in which the authorities in Germany had already rejected asylum bids, because of the Dublin Agreement, and in “church asylum” cases, in which Christian congregations or pastors had taken initiative and accommodated refugees in their churches or homes.

In the latest case involving Syrian refugees in Germany, the Administrative Court in the northern German town of Minden decided against the plaintiff. A large Syrian family, which includes a couple and their five little children, now has to be deported to Bulgaria. Volunteers who had tried to help that family, by providing an accommodation, language lessons and legal advice, were angry about the way the German authorities approached the deportation.

As it turns out, the mother received a letter she did not understand, while she and her family lived in a quiet home, provided by the association “Willkommen in Rheda-Wiedenbrück”. Since she needed to have it translated, her German teachers asked her to bring the letter along, for the next language lesson scheduled. Before she had the chance to do so, the authorities showed up at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Jürgen Nellen, a volunteer, is being quoted by the publication “Neue Westfälische”, saying the family, including the five little children, had been picked up “by a police force” in the middle of the night, in order to be deported to Bulgaria. Since the mother fought back by shouting and kicking, the pilot of the plane they were put on refused to fly them to Bulgaria or anywhere.

After this incident, the mother was in detention pending deportation, in spite of the fact that she has five kids to look after. As a result, an argument erupted between the volunteers who helped the family, and the authority in charge of deportations. The volunteers say, the authorities had decided to detain her, since they had not known the lady had five kids. Therefore, the woman needed to be freed and sent back to her family. The authority, on the other hand, insists the decision was taken with all the information.

After all of this, the court decision is still valid. While some refugees who were granted asylum in Bulgaria may stay in Germany, others, including that Syrian family of seven, may not. The mother will supposedly be deported on May 29th, while the father was given the choice between a forceful deportation or a voluntary one, along with his five kids.

At the beginning of May, the mother will be in surgery at a clinic in the town of Bielefeld. According to the family’s lawyer, this is about an injury “she probably sustained while being raped in Bulgaria”.

Symbolic photo by UNHCR/J. Tanner

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus, the founder of foreignersandfriends.com, is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe.