Independent police complaints bodies were not introduced. Several federal states continued to forcibly return Roma to Kosovo despite the risk of persecution and discrimination there. Criminal proceedings for crimes against humanity and war crimes against the former President and Vice-President of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda were ongoing.
In May, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights urged Germany to sign the Optional Protocol to the Covenant, to ensure that its policies on investments by German companies abroad serve the economic, social and cultural rights in the host countries, and to ensure that asylum-seekers enjoy equal access to social assistance, health care and employment.
In November, the UN Committee against Torture recommended that to prevent torture or other ill-treatment, Germany should refrain from automatically relying on information provided by foreign intelligence services and ban all German authorities and agencies from undertaking investigations abroad where this could involve co-operation with foreign agencies suspected of coercion. The Committee was concerned about the lack of ongoing efforts to investigate German involvement in extraordinary renditions. It also recommended that all allegations of torture and ill-treatment by the police be investigated by independent bodies, and expressed concern that police officers in most federal states were not obliged to wear identification badges.Top of page
Investigations into allegations of ill-treatment were not always effective due to a lack of independent police complaints mechanisms in all federal states and to difficulties in the identification of police officers. In July, the federal state of Berlin started implementing individual identification consisting of name or number tags for all its police officers.
On 13 January, the Federal Ministry of the Interior ordered that transfers of asylum-seekers to Greece under the Dublin II Regulation be suspended for one year (see Greece entry). In November, the suspension was prolonged until 12 January 2013.
On 9 November, the authorities agreed to establish a permanent programme for the resettlement of vulnerable refugees with a quota of 300 each year in the next three years.
Asylum-seekers entering Germany via an airport who went through an accelerated asylum procedure were routinely detained in the airport transit area. The authorities did not consider that holding asylum-seekers there amounted to a deprivation of liberty.
Several federal states continued to forcibly return Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians to Kosovo despite the ongoing real risk of persecution and cumulative forms of discrimination there. In August, there were media reports that the Baden-Württemberg authorities had stopped returns for an interim period. In December, North Rhine-Westphalia stopped forcible returns to Kosovo of Roma considered vulnerable, such as families with minors, single women and the elderly, until 1 April 2012.
Asylum-seekers continued to be discriminated against in access to social benefits: they received benefits well below subsistence level, 31 per cent lower than those for permanent residents. The law regulating social benefits for asylum-seekers was under review by the German Constitutional Court.Top of page
Social services departments remained under obligation to report a person’s irregular status to the Office of Alien Affairs when handing out health vouchers for non-emergency medical treatment. This undermined the right to health of undocumented migrants. Amendments to the Residence Act were passed to exempt education staff from this obligation.Top of page
Concerns remained about several aspects of the government’s counter-terrorism policy. Regulatory rules governing the Residence Act allowed the use of “diplomatic assurances” to justify returning terrorism suspects to places where they were at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. The German government declined to state that it would rule out intelligence co-operation and information-sharing with states that have a well-known record of torture.
In May, a criminal trial against Rwandan citizens Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni was opened before the Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart. As the former President and Vice-President of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, they were accused of having commanded 26 crimes against humanity and 39 war crimes on Congolese territory between January 2008 and November 2009 via telephone and internet. This was the first trial in Germany based on the German Code of Crimes against International Law, which came into force in 2002.Top of page
Although the German government supported a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty, it repeatedly authorized arms transfers that may have contributed to human rights violations. In July, there were media reports that the German government had approved in principle the delivery of about 200 Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks to Saudi Arabia.Top of page