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Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Germany

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 May 2012
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Germany, 24 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fbe393a6e.html [accessed 30 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Head of state: Christian Wulff
Head of government: Angela Merkel
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 82.2 million
Life expectancy: 80.4 years
Under-5 mortality: 4.2 per 1,000

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.

International scrutiny

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.

Torture and other ill-treatment

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.

  • Investigations into excessive use of force during a demonstration in Stuttgart in September 2010 were ongoing. In March, the Stuttgart Local Court fined one police officer €6,000 for the use of pepper spray against a woman participating in a sit-in. The lawyer of four protesters who sustained severe eye damage from a water cannon blast requested that the chief public prosecutor be discharged from the case due to an alleged lack of impartiality.

  • On 4 August, the Frankfurt Regional Court awarded moral damages to Markus Gäfgen for having been threatened by two police officers with the infliction of intolerable pain in 2002 as he was apprehended on suspicion of having kidnapped an 11-year-old boy. The court qualified the threat as "inhuman treatment" under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

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.

Migrants' rights

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.

Counter-terror and security

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 April, the TAZ newspaper reported that the detained Uzbek witness A.S. had died in prison in Tashkent, allegedly of a heart attack. He had been interrogated by German investigators in June and September 2008 in Tashkent in the presence of the Uzbekistani National Security Service, despite findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture that torture was systematic in Uzbekistani prisons.

  • In January, German national Khaled El-Masri withdrew his appeal against the decision by Cologne Administrative Court in December 2010. The court had dismissed Khaled El-Masri's action against Germany for not pursuing the extradition of 13 US nationals suspected of transferring him illegally to Afghanistan in 2004.

Crimes under international law

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.

Arms trade

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.

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