A German foreigners authority wanted to deport a Syrian to Malta. 150 people therefore protested at the site of his sanctuary in a church in Darmstadt.
The Mainz-Bingen foreigners authority from Rhineland-Palatinate stopped the deportation of 35-year-old Syrian Abderrahman G. from a so-called church asylum on Thursday. After the expiry of a deadline in the Dublin procedure, responsibility for his asylum application now passes to Germany. Originally, this application was to be examined in Malta.
The man had arrived in Malta by boat after a nine-day journey across the Mediterranean. According to the EU Dublin Regulation, an asylum application must be processed in the country where the applicant first entered the EU. If this person travels on to another country, he can be deported back to the responsible EU state within six months. In the case of Syrian G., this transfer period ended at midnight on Thursday.
After arriving in Germany, G. had initially been taken to a reception center in Hermeskeil, Rhineland-Palatinate. An asylum application filed there was rejected with reference to EU member Malta.
In order to check the legality of the church asylum, the foreigners authority had announced itself on Thursday morning for an inspection in Darmstadt. Various organizations therefore feared that the church asylum could be broken and the Syrian could be deported against his will with police support. About 150 people had come to a solidarity rally organized for this reason early Thursday morning.
During the visit, the representative of the foreigners authority wanted to make sure whether G. was actually in the church sanctuary. Because otherwise his Dublin transfer period to Malta could have been extended to 18 months.
The day before, the city of Darmstadt also spoke out in favor of respecting the church asylum in a statement. This is “an important shelter that means stability and security for refugees in desperate situations,” according to Mayor Hanno Benz (SPD). Darmstadt’s head of public order, Paul Wandrey, criticized the fact that his foreigners authority had not been contacted by colleagues from Rhineland-Palatinate. Also the authority responsible for deportations, the Darmstadt regional council, had not been involved.
Timmo Scherenberg, the executive director of the Hessian Refugee Council, expressed his enthusiasm for the great support for the case in an interview with “nd”, referring also to the city of Darmstadt. He calls the church asylum an “important instrument of civil society to counteract undesirable developments in the European asylum system.”
Church asylum is not a contractual agreement between religious communities and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. However, it is usually respected by the foreigners’ offices, which are subordinate authorities responsible for processing asylum applications.
In July, however, the foreigners authority of the city of Viersen had broken this agreement and arrested a Kurdish couple in a community center in Nettetal-Lobberich (North Rhine-Westphalia). They were subsequently taken to a detention center for deportees in Darmstadt. After protests, the city of Viersen revised the decision, and the couple’s asylum application was then to be reconsidered.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: Protest in Darmstadt (Seebrücke Frankfurt).