U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2002 - Germany
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||31 March 2003|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2002 - Germany , 31 March 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3e918c4010.html [accessed 13 March 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 31, 2003
The Federal Republic of Germany is a constitutional parliamentary democracy; citizens periodically choose their representatives in free and fair multiparty elections. The head of the Federal Government, the Chancellor, is elected by the Bundestag, the first of two chambers of Parliament. The powers of the Chancellor and of the Parliament are set forth in the Basic Law (Constitution). The 16 states represented in Parliament in the Bundesrat enjoy significant autonomy, particularly regarding law enforcement and the courts, education, the environment, and social assistance. The judiciary is independent.
Law enforcement was primarily a responsibility of state governments, and the police are organized at the state level. The jurisdiction of the Federal Criminal Office was limited to counterterrorism, international organized crime, particularly narcotics trafficking, weapons smuggling, and currency counterfeiting. Police forces in general were well trained, disciplined, and mindful of citizens' rights; however, there have been instances in which police committed human rights abuses.
A well-developed industrial economy provided citizens with a high standard of living. The population was approximately 82 million.
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; although there were problems in some areas, the law and judiciary provided effective means of addressing individual instances of abuse. There were some limits on freedom of assembly and association. There was some discrimination against Scientologists and members of the Unification Church, and one regional court upheld a ban on the wearing of Muslim headscarves by teachers in public schools. Some minority religious groups reported instances of societal discrimination. Violence against women and children continued to be a problem, which the Government took steps to address. Instances of societal violence and harassment directed at minority groups and foreign residents continued. Women continued to face some wage discrimination in the private sector, as did minorities and foreigners. Trafficking in persons, particularly women and girls, was a problem. Germany was invited by the Community of Democracies' (CD) Convening Group to attend the November 2002 second CD Ministerial Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea, as a participant.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports during the year of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life committed by the Government or its agents.
The case of Aamir Ageeb, a Sudanese asylum seeker who died in 1999 during a deportation flight while in the custody of Federal Border Police, remained pending before a Hesse state appeals court. Ageeb allegedly resisted deportation violently and was restrained on the plane by police. An investigation was initiated following allegations that the police had restrained Ageeb in such a way as to hinder his breathing. In February the Frankfurt City Public Prosecutor's Office brought charges of negligent homicide against three Federal Border Police officers; however, the accused appealed the indictment. A court decision on the appeal is expected in 2003.
On May 11, Cologne police arrested a 31-year-old man for rioting, and allegedly beat the man while in custody in a police station. The man was taken to a hospital, where he fell into a coma and died 2 weeks later. The Cologne city prosecutor initiated a criminal investigation against six police officers allegedly involved in the beating. However, according to an expert medical opinion, the man did not die as a result of the beating, but rather as a result of a pre-existing medical condition. Therefore, the prosecutor's office announced it would seek charges against the police officers for bodily injury. The officers were suspended from duty during the investigation, and a trial is expected to take place in 2003.
During the year, the case of Dr. Hans-Joachim Sewering, who allegedly sent children with congenital disabilities to a hospital for euthanasia during the Nazi period, resurfaced. The Munich city prosecutor's office closed its investigation of the case in 1995, citing lack of evidence. Following interest expressed by foreign governments in the case, the Munich chief prosecutor indicated his willingness to reopen the investigation if new evidence is developed. Joint plaintiffs announced that they would appeal; however, there has been no court action on the appeals.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits such practices; however, in 2001 the U.N. Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern about "repeated reports of racist incidents in police stations as well as ill-treatment by law enforcement officials against foreigners" in the country.
The Government investigated abuses and prosecuted police who mistreated persons in custody (see Section 1.a.).
There were a number of violent rightwing attacks on minority groups and foreigners (see Section 5).
Prison conditions generally met international standards. A hunger strike by thirty-two prisoners in Berlin's Tegel prison in 2001, in which prisoners were protesting what they called poor living conditions (the prison was built in the 19th century and renovations were constrained by its status as a state historic site), ended when authorities responded to some of the prisoners' demands. Men were held separately from women, juveniles were held separately from adults, and pretrial detainees were held separately from convicted criminals.
The Government permitted visits by independent human rights monitors, although there were no reports that such visits were requested during the year.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Basic Law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government generally observed these prohibitions. A person can be arrested only on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by a competent judicial authority, unless the person is caught in the act of committing a crime, or the police have strong reason to believe that the person intends to commit a crime. If there is evidence that a suspect might flee the country, police may detain that person for up to 24 hours pending a formal charge. Any person detained by police must be brought before a judge and charged within 24 hours of the arrest. The court then must issue an arrest warrant stating the grounds for detention or order the person's release.
Police at times detained known or suspected rightwing and leftwing radicals for brief periods when they believed such individuals intended to participate in illegal or unauthorized demonstrations (see Section 2.b.). The rules governing this type of detention are different in each state, with authorized periods of detention ranging from 1 to 14 days, provided judicial concurrence is given within 24 hours of initial apprehension. There were no reports of such detention during the year.
Detainees have access to lawyers. Only judges may decide on the validity of any deprivation of liberty. Bail exists but seldom is employed; the usual practice is to release detainees unless there is clear danger of flight outside the country. In these cases, a person may be detained for the course of the investigation and subsequent trial. Such decisions are subject to regular judicial review, and time spent in investigative custody applies toward the sentence. In cases of acquittal, the Government must compensate the individual.
The Basic Law prohibits forced exile, and the Government did not employ it.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Basic Law provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice.
Ordinary courts have jurisdiction in criminal and civil matters. There are four levels of such courts (local courts, regional courts, higher regional courts, and the Federal Court of Justice), with appeals possible from lower to higher levels. In addition to the ordinary courts, there are four types of specialized courts: Administrative, labor, social, and fiscal. These courts also have different levels, and appeals may be made to the next higher level.
Separate from these five types of courts is the Federal Constitutional Court, which is the supreme court. Among other responsibilities, it reviews laws to ensure their compatibility with the Basic Law and adjudicates disputes between different branches of government on questions of competencies. It also has jurisdiction to hear and decide claims based on the infringement of a person's basic constitutional rights by a public authority.
The judiciary provided citizens with a fair and efficient judicial process, although court proceedings at times were delayed because of increasing caseloads. For simple or less serious cases, the Government adopted a procedure allowing for an accelerated hearing and summary punishment at the local court level. The maximum sentence for such cases was limited to 1 year, and if a sentence of 6 months or more was expected, a defense counsel was required to be present.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Basic Law prohibits such actions, and government authorities generally respected these prohibitions; violations were subject to effective legal sanction. For example, one regional court upheld a ban on the wearing of headscarves by Muslim teachers in public schools (see Section 2.c.).
Several hundred organizations were under observation by the federal and state Offices for the Protection of the Constitution (OPC). The OPCs were charged with examining possible threats to the constitutional democratic system; they had no law enforcement powers, and OPC monitoring by law could not interfere with the continued activities of any organization. However, because the OPCs published a list of organizations being monitored, being on the list could have a negative influence on an organization's reputation, thus disturbing its normal activities. In observing an organization, OPC officials sought to collect information, mostly from written materials and first-hand accounts, to assess whether a threat existed. At times more intrusive methods, such as the use of undercover agents, were used, but they were subject to legal checks (see Section 2.c.).
In May the European Court for Human Rights in Strassbourg issued a ruling in the "Kutzner Case," in which a local court in the state of Lower Saxony in 1997 removed a couple's two daughters from their custody because the couple were "not intellectually capable of providing their daughters with a proper upbringing." The couple, both of whom have been employed continuously and who had not been diagnosed medically with neurological abnormalities, fought the social service system's actions to remove their children, claiming the removal was arbitrary. The court in Strassbourg agreed, ruling that the German authorities had violated the family's human rights, commenting that "...the fact that a child might be afforded better development in a different environment does not in itself justify forcible separation of the child from its biological parents."
In March the federal Administrative Court ruled that wiretap recordings of Helmut Kohl collected by the East German secret police (Stasi) be sealed. The court stated that protection for Stasi victims outweighed the value of releasing spy records on public figures.
2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Basic Law provides for freedom of the press, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to ensure freedom of the press and of speech; however, there were some limits on freedom of speech. Distribution of the propaganda of proscribed organizations, statements inciting racial hatred and endorsing Nazism, and denying the Holocaust, are illegal, and the authorities seek to block what they consider dangerous material on the Internet.
There were more than 800 radio stations and nearly 400 television stations in the country. In addition, there were hundreds of daily and weekly newspapers and periodicals. Foreign broadcasts and publications were available readily, particularly in the major cities. The media was independent; a wide range of political and other opinions were expressed freely.
There were approximately 120 Internet service providers. The law bans access to prohibited material (for example, child pornography and Nazi propaganda) on the Internet, and the Government explored ways to expand bilateral and multilateral cooperation in countering Internet crime. German officials estimated that there were approximately 800 Internet sites with what they considered objectionable or dangerous rightwing extremist content. The Federal Court of Justice held that the country's laws against Nazi incitement may apply to individuals who post Nazi material on Internet sites available to users in the country, even if the site resides on a foreign server.
In February and again in September, the Duesseldorf city administration, through the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) media regulatory agency, ordered several Internet service providers (ISPs) to deny access to certain web sites with rightwing extremist content. Fifteen ISPs separately have filed suits against this order in various NRW courts; decisions were pending at year's end.
The Government did not restrict academic freedom.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The law provides for freedom of assembly, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, outlawed organizations were not permitted to hold public assemblies. Permits must be obtained for open-air public rallies and marches, and state and local officials have the authority to deny such permits when public safety concerns arise or when outlawed organizations attempt to hold public assemblies. For example, rallies and marches by neo-Nazis and rightwing radicals commemorating the death of Nazi official Rudolf Hess were banned routinely.
The law provides for freedom of association, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, the Basic Law permits the banning of organizations whose activities were found to be illegal or opposed to the constitutional democratic order as established by the Basic Law. The Federal Constitutional Court is the only body that can outlaw political parties on these grounds; under this provision, the Court in the 1950s banned a neo-Nazi and a Communist party. Federal or state governments may ban other organizations on these grounds, but legal recourse against such decisions is available. Such banned organizations included a number of groups that authorities generally classified as rightwing or leftwing, foreign extremist, or criminal in nature. Several hundred organizations were under observation by the federal and state OPCs (see Section 1.f.).
In 2000 the Government established a commission of experts to examine whether evidence against the rightwing extremist National Democratic Party (NPD) would meet the threshold to support a legal ban, which was demanded widely after a surge of rightwing extremist activity. The Bundestag and Bundesrat filed separate petitions for the banning of the NPD with the Court. A decision remained pending before the Federal Constitutional Court at year's end.
The mayor of Munich banned all demonstrations during the February Conference on Security Policy held in that city, citing a danger of violence. Anti-globalization groups had advertised plans for large, coordinated demonstrations at the Conference. Activists challenged the ban, but it was upheld in the local court.
In December 2001, the Federal Interior Minister banned the extremist Islamic organization Caliphate State on the grounds that the organization "actively worked to undermine the country's constitutional order." The ban was possible due to enactment of the Interior Ministry's first "Security Package," specifically to a section of the new law that removed a previous exception for religious organizations. Members of the organization have filed several suits in NRW courts against the ban and the accompanying searches and seizures of the organization's assets; however, on November 27, in each case the courts found for the state and upheld the ban.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Basic Law provides for the freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, there was some discrimination against minority religious groups.
Church and state are separate, although historically a special relationship existed between the State and those religious communities that had the status of a "corporation under public law." If they fulfill certain requirements, including assurance of permanence, size of the organization, and no indication that the organization is not loyal to the State, organizations may request that they be granted "public law corporation" status, which, among other things, entitles them to levy taxes on their members that the State collects for them. Organizations pay a fee to the Government for this service, and all public law corporations do not avail themselves of this privilege. The decision to grant public law corporation status is made at the state level.
Religious organizations were not required to register; however, most were registered and were treated like nonprofit associations and therefore enjoyed tax-exempt status.
Several states, noting their responsibility to respond to citizens' requests for information about nontraditional religious groups, have published pamphlets detailing the ideology and practices of these groups. While many of the pamphlets were factual and relatively unbiased, others could harm the reputations of some groups through innuendo and inclusion in a report covering known dangerous "cults," "sects," or "psychogroups." Scientology was the focus of many such pamphlets, some of which warn of the alleged dangers posed by Scientology to the democratic political order and free-market economic system and to the mental and financial well being of individual Scientology practitioners. For example, the Hamburg OPC published "The Intelligence Service of the Scientology Organization," which claimed that Scientology tried to infiltrate governments, offices, and companies, and that the church spied on its opponents, with the aim of defaming and "destroying" them.
Within the federal system, the states showed large differences with respect to their treatment of the Church of Scientology. One state, Schleswig-Holstein, did not have Scientology under observation by its OPC. Bavaria, on the other hand, announced in November that it might seek to ban Scientology based on recommendations of a recently released study commissioned by the state. The basis for the ban would be medical malpractice associated with Scientology's "auditing" techniques. The Bavarian Interior Ministry is expected to test a ban in courts during 2003.
A July ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court clarified the Government's "warning" function with respect to nontraditional religions. In a case pending since the 1980s involving the "Bagwan/Osho Spiritual Movement," the Court ruled that the Government is allowed to characterize such nontraditional religions as sects, "youth religions," and "youth sects," and is allowed to provide accurate information about them to the public; however, the Government is not allowed to defame them by using terms such as "destructive," "pseudo-religion," or "manipulative."
The Church of Scientology, which operated 18 churches and missions, remained under scrutiny by both federal and state OPCs, which contended that its ideology is opposed to democracy. Since 1997 Scientology has been under observation by the federal and state OPCs, with the exception of Schleswig-Holstein's (see Section 1.f.). The federal OPC's annual report for 2001 concluded that the original reasons for initiating observation of Scientology in 1997 still were valid, but noted that Scientology had not been involved in any criminal activity. When the issue of OPC observation was discussed at the annual gathering of state interior ministers in Bremen in December, the ministers also acknowledged that Scientology had not been involved in illegal activities.
In December 2001, the Berlin Administrative Court ruled that the Berlin OPC was barred from using undercover agents or other covert means for observing Scientology activities. However, the observation of Scientology activities through other means (e.g., open sources or electronic surveillance) was not affected by the ruling, which applied only to the city-state of Berlin.
Government authorities contended that Scientology was not a religion but an economic enterprise and therefore at times sought to deregister Scientology organizations previously registered as nonprofit associations and required them to register as commercial enterprises. With the exception of the Church of Scientology in Baden-Wuerttemberg, no Scientology organization in the country had tax-exempt status.
Until March 2001, the federal Government required firms to sign a declaration when bidding on government contracts stating that neither the firm's management nor employees were Scientologists. In March 2001, the Economics Ministry persuaded the federal and state interior ministries to accept new wording that would only prohibit use of the "technology of L. Ron Hubbard" in executing government contracts. Firms owned or managed by or employing Scientologists could bid on these contracts. The private sector on occasion required foreign firms that wished to do business in the country to declare any affiliation that they or their employees may have with Scientology. Private sector firms that screen for Scientology affiliations frequently cited OPC observation of Scientology as a justification for discrimination. The Federal Property Office barred the sale of some real estate to Scientologists, noting that the federal Finance Ministry had urged that such sales be avoided, if possible.
In August the federal Interior Ministry extended its refusal of entry to the country (refusal to issue a visitor visa) to the founder of the Unification Church, Reverend Sun Myong Moon, and his wife, Hak Ja Har Moon. The couple had been refused entry to the country (and through the Schengen Treaty visa ineligibility, to other Schengen countries) since 1995, when the Chief Office for Border Security issued a notice of refusal of entry for an initial period of 3 years. The stated reason for refusal of entry was that Reverend Moon and his wife were considered by the federal government to be leaders of a "sect" that endangered the personal and social development of young people; therefore, their entry to the country would not be in the national interest. The Government had extended the refusal of entry repeatedly, last in August for a period of 2 years, citing only the original basis for the refusal. Unification Church legal challenges to the refusal of entry were unsuccessful, but continued at year's end.
In March the Baden-Wuerttemberg Administrative Court ruled that Scientologists were not permitted to sell books and brochures in pedestrian zones in the cities of Stuttgart and Freiburg. The court noted that such activity required a permit, which the Church of Scientology never applied for. The Church of Scientology argued that this restriction violated the basic right of religious freedom; however, the court did not accept this argument.
In September 2001, responding to an appeal by a Scientologist who ran an au pair agency in Rheinland-Pfalz, the State Social Court upheld the Kassel court's finding, ruled out further appeals, and barred the woman from running the au pair agency.
On June 26, an administrative court upheld a 1998 ban in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemburg on Muslim teachers wearing headscarves in the classroom. In July the Federal Administrative Court affirmed the lower court's ban on teachers wearing headscarves. Muslim students were free to wear headscarves.
Most public schools offered religious instruction in cooperation with the Protestant and Catholic churches and were prepared to offer instruction in Judaism if enough students expressed interest. A nonreligious ethics course or study hall usually was available for students not wishing to participate in religious instruction. The issue of Islamic education in public schools continued to be controversial; however, since 2000, the Islamic Federation has qualified as a religious community and must be given the opportunity to provide religious instruction in Berlin schools.
Scientologists continued to report instances of societal discrimination; however, there were fewer reports during the year. In the state of Bavaria, applicants for state civil service positions were required to complete questionnaires detailing any relationship they may have with Scientology. Currently employed civil servants were not required to provide this information. The questionnaire specifically stated that the failure to complete the form would result in the employment application not being considered. However, previous court cases have ruled in favor of employees who have refused. According to Bavarian and federal officials, no one in Bavaria lost a job or was denied employment solely because of association with Scientology; Scientology officials confirmed this fact. A number of state and local offices shared information on individuals known to be Scientologists. There were numerous unconfirmed reports from Scientologists that they were denied banking services when the account was to be opened under the name of the Church of Scientology, and were denied the right to rent facilities to hold meetings and seminars.
The Catholic and Lutheran churches in the country employed "sect commissioners" to investigate and publish their opinions on those groups they considered "sects, cults, and psycho-groups."
With an estimated four million adherents, Islam was the third most commonly practiced religion in the country (after Catholicism and Lutheranism). All branches of Islam were represented in the country, with the large majority of Muslims coming from other countries. At times this led to societal discord, such as local resistance to the construction of mosques or disagreements over whether Muslims can use loudspeakers in residential neighborhoods to call the faithful to prayer. There also remained areas where the law conflicted with Islamic practices or raised religious freedom issues.
In January the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that Muslim butchers could apply for waivers of animal slaughtering regulations, like other religious communities.
In the past, opposition to the construction of mosques was reported in various communities around the country. There was no further discussion of the dispute in Heslach regarding the construction of a mosque.
There also was a case of a planned mosque in the Frankfurt suburb of Roedelheim. Neighbors expressed concerns about an increase in traffic if visitors came to attend services at the mosque. There were newspaper reports of open opposition to the project voiced at citizen meetings with the city administration. Leading city officials appeared to support the construction of the mosque, but the case was pending at year's end.
During the year, anti-Semitic incidents in the country received increased media and law enforcement attention amid comments by several Jewish community leaders that German Jews increasingly felt threatened. Such incidents had occurred in the past; however, the context this time was marked by significant pro-Palestinian public sentiment, harsh criticism of Israeli policy by some well-known German politicians, and anecdotal evidence of growing indignation toward Israel on the part of Germany's Muslims.
It was common during the year to see groups of Hamas and Hizbollah members and supporters marching together with antiglobalization activists and even Green Party members of the German Bundestag at anti-U.S. demonstrations. The Muslim extremist Hizb-ut-Tahrir organization was able to rent space at a public university in Berlin in order to have an anti-Israel meeting, attended also by leaders of German neo-Nazi organizations. Both at anti-U.S. demonstrations and in Muslim extremist meetings and seminars, calls to violence against Jews were common. State and federal authorities have begun to investigate possible links between neo-Nazi and Muslim extremist organizations.
Crimes that were classified by the police as anti-Semitic are: propaganda inciting racial hatred (e.g., distribution of anti-Semitic literature, hate letters sent to Jewish institutions), destruction of property (e.g., desecration of Jewish memorials by graffiti, bombing or vandalism of Jewish sites), and assaults on persons (e.g., physical and/or verbal abuse of a person wearing a Jewish symbol). During the first few months of the year in Berlin, there were approximately 50 attacks compared with 106 in 2001. Desecration of memorial sites dedicated to victims of Nazi crimes was common. In September an attack on a museum dedicated to a Nazi death march in Brandenburg involved the planting of sophisticated incendiary devices, which resulted in extensive property damage.
Government authorities on all levels took anti-Semitic activities very seriously and consistently have taken a strong stance against it. Police forces continued to provide protection for Jewish sites and some Jewish leaders, and in some cases have increased the level of protection.
For a more detailed discussion see the 2002 International Religious Freedom report.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Basic Law provides for these rights, and the Government generally respected them in practice. For ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the Basic Law provides both for citizenship immediately upon application and for legal residence without restrictions. The law provides that children born to legal foreign residents may be granted citizenship. Individuals may retain both German citizenship and that of their parents until the age of 23, when they must choose one or the other. The law reduced the period of residence legal foreign residents must spend in the country in order to earn the right to naturalize from 15 to 8 years.
Legislation aimed at rationalizing immigration law passed the Bundestag during the 2002 legislative session; however, the federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled in December that the procedures followed during Bundesrat ratification were unconstitutional. New immigration legislation is expected to be taken up again during the 2003 session.
The Basic Law and subsequent legislation provide for the granting of asylum and refugee status in accordance with the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Both the Federal Government and state governments cooperated with the office of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees, although immigration matters were primarily a state-level responsibility.
Individuals attempting to enter via a "safe third country" (any country in the European Union (EU) or adhering to the Geneva Convention on Refugees) were ineligible for asylum and could be turned back at the border or returned to that "safe third country" if they managed to enter the country. Persons coming from any country which officials designated as a "safe country of origin" could not claim asylum, and individuals whose applications were rejected on these grounds had up to 2 weeks to appeal the decision. Individuals who arrived at an international airport and who were deemed to have come from a "safe country of origin" could be detained at an airport holding facility. In these cases, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees was required to make a decision on an asylum application within 48 hours or allow the person to enter the country. The person could appeal a negative decision to an administrative court within 3 days, and the court was required to rule within 14 days or allow the individual to enter the country. Although stays in the airport facility in theory are limited to a maximum of 19 days, applicants whose claims were rejected, but who could not be deported immediately, have been held at the airport for months, a practice criticized by some refugee assistance groups and human rights advocates (see Section 1.c.).
Applicants who entered the country and were denied asylum at their original administrative hearing could challenge the decision in court, and 80 percent of applicants denied asylum did so. Approximately 3 to 4 percent of such rejections were overturned. The rejected applicant was allowed to remain in country during the course of the appeal, which usually took at least a year and sometimes significantly longer. Applicants received housing and other social service benefits during this time. Since 2000 applicants for asylum and civil war refugees have been allowed to work after a 1-year waiting period. Individuals who failed to cooperate during the deportation process or who were deemed liable to flee to avoid deportation could be held in predeportation detention, with the average detention period lasting 5 to 6 weeks.
Some foreigners whose asylum applications were rejected, but who would be endangered if they were returned to their home country, such as those fleeing civil wars, received temporary residence permits; however, they were expected to leave when conditions in their home country allowed for their safe return. The vast majority of the approximately 345,000 Bosnians and the approximately 200,000 Kosovars whom the Government admitted during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia fell into this category; most of these persons since have been repatriated or resettled outside of the country. For the remaining Bosnians and Kosovars, once their residence permits expired, they could be deported, although some exceptions were made for certain vulnerable groups, such as members of ethnic minorities, including Serbs, Roma, Ashkalia, and Muslim Slavs. In a number of cases, there also were exceptions made for medical reasons. The Government continued to support voluntary return programs for refugees from the former Yugoslavia, providing financial incentives of between $765 and $2,250 (765 and 2,250 euros) to help cover travel and resettlement costs; many states provided additional resettlement funds. However, failure to accept voluntary repatriation subjected these refugees to the threat of deportation, forced them to leave their personal property behind, and excluded them from reentering the country for a 5-year period.
In some cases, unsuccessful asylum seekers attempt to thwart their deportation by refusing to disclose to authorities their country of origin or their identity. This situation was prevalent among asylum seekers from West Africa; however, it is also not unusual among asylum seekers from the former Soviet Union. Bavaria attempted to speed up repatriation of uncooperative rejected asylum seekers by opening "departure facilities," i.e., communal accommodations where foreigners are housed while authorities obtain valid information regarding their identity and citizenship. A new departure center was opened on a trial basis in Fuerth, and was planned to house 50 unsuccessful uncooperative asylum seekers from the former Soviet Union. Some refugee-rights and church organizations criticized the Fuerth center as inhumane. They claimed that the basic amenities and relative lack of freedom of movement exerted psychological pressure on the residents. Bavarian authorities countered that the center's emphasis on counseling and job skill development promoted the residents' willingness to depart voluntarily and enhanced their chances of success in their home countries.
During the year, police in Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, allegedly forced an Armenian asylum applicant to submit to an examination of his genitalia. The police asserted that the applicant submitted voluntarily to the examination, and that the examination was necessary to determine his nationality. The applicant claimed that the examination was forced. Refugee rights groups requested an investigation and that the police officers be held accountable. The police investigated the incident; no indictments were handed down by the Public Prosecutor by year's end.
The right of most Kosovar refugees to stay in the country expired in spring 2000 and most states began regular deportations in March 2000. During 2001 approximately 4,500 Kosovar refugees were deported and approximately 8,200 returned home on a voluntary basis. Some national officials, the UNHCR, and domestic refugee support organizations have cautioned that the refugees' place of origin and ethnicity should be given careful consideration in the implementation of Kosovar returns. Incentive programs for the voluntary return of Bosnian and Kosovar refugees remained in effect, but on a reduced scale compared to earlier years. In the first 6 months of the year, 1,160 refugees from Kosovo returned voluntarily, compared with 2,239 during the same period in 2001.
State authorities, working in close cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UNHCR, and other domestic nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), continued to repatriate Bosnian refugees, unless they qualified for an extension of stay on certain humanitarian grounds. In 2000 the Federal and State Interior Ministers decided at their annual meeting to grant severely traumatized Bosnians and their family members, including unmarried adult children, temporary residence permits for the duration of their medical treatment. In addition, the Government would permit some older Bosnian refugees, as well as some categories of Kosovars (such as orphaned children, ethnically mixed couples from areas with no minority protection, and war crimes tribunal witnesses) to stay in the country.
Refugee assistance organizations have expressed concern regarding courts' interpretations of certain provisions related to the right of asylum, notably the practice of excluding "quasi-governmental" persecution as a basis for granting asylum. In 2000 the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that lower courts had erred in denying asylum to three Afghan applicants because their persecutors were not a state government but members of a Mujahadeen group – a quasi-governmental entity. The case was remanded back to the lower court with instructions to reconsider the issue of quasi-governmental persecution. The lower court confirmed that "quasi-governmental" persecution is excluded as a basis for asylum decisions. In response to the Constitutional Court ruling, the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees postponed making decisions in all pending asylum cases involving quasi-governmental persecution until the lower court reissues its ruling.
In July the case of the ethnic Turkish juvenile delinquent Mulis A. ("Mehmet") resurfaced. Mehmet, a Turkish citizen, was born in Germany to Turkish parents resident in Germany for 30 years. By the age of 14, he had committed several criminal offenses. In 1999 Munich authorities cancelled Mehmet's residence permit; however, his parents refused to leave the country. The court ruled that Mehmet could be deported without his parents, and he was forcibly expelled to Turkey, where he lived with relatives for more than 2 years. In July the Federal Administrative Court ruled that Mehmet's crimes were not serious enough to warrant revocation of his residence permit and ordered that it be restored immediately. The city complied, and Mehmet returned to Bavaria (now as an adult).
An investigation into the 1999 death of a Sudanese asylum seeker who died during a deportation flight while in the custody of the Federal Border Police remained pending at year's end (see Section 1.a.). As a result of this incident, the Federal Interior Ministry instituted new deportation procedures that prohibit methods that could hinder breathing.
3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The Basic Law provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections. Members of Parliament's first chamber, the Bundestag, are elected every 4 years from a mixture of direct-constituency and party-list candidates on the basis of universal suffrage and secret balloting. The second chamber, the Bundesrat, is composed of delegations from state governments; there are no collective Bundesrat elections.
In the Bundestag, there were two major political parties, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), as well as two smaller parties, the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens. Parties that failed to win either 5 percent of the vote nationwide or three seats in head-to-head contests ("direct mandates") were not allotted their proportional share of seats (although they retain any seats won directly). In the September 22 national elections, the PDS won two direct mandates, but failed to gain the 5 percent needed; therefore, there were only two PDS deputies in the new Bundestag. The federal Constitutional Court may outlaw political parties that actively work to undermine the liberal democratic order (see Section 2.b.).
The law entitles women to participate fully in political life, and a growing number are prominent in the Government and the parties. Less than 31 percent of the members of the Bundestag were women. Women occupied 7 of 15 Federal Cabinet positions. On the Federal Constitutional Court, 5 of the 16 judges were female, including the Chief Justice. Two of the parties represented in the Bundestag were headed by women: The CDU and the Greens/Alliance 90 (co-chaired by a woman and a man). All of the parties had undertaken to enlist more women. The Greens/Alliance 90 Party required that women constitute half of the party's elected officials; and 57.5 percent of the Party's federal parliamentary caucus members are women. The Social Democrats had a 40-percent quota for women on all party committees and governing bodies, and they met that goal. The Christian Democrats required that 30 percent of the first ballot candidates for party positions be women, a goal that they met.
There were two Turkish-German Bundestag deputies, and one German-Indian mixed race deputy in the Bundestag.
4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A wide variety of international and domestic human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were very cooperative and responsive to their views.
In 2000 the Bundestag voted to create the National Institute for Human Rights, an autonomous foundation whose function will be to monitor human rights domestically and abroad and to promote education and scientific research in the field. The Institute was founded in 2001 and is expected to begin full operation during 2003.
5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The law prohibits the denial of access to housing, health care, or education on the basis of race, disability, sex, ethnic background, political opinion, or citizenship.
Violence against women was a problem and was underreported. In 2001 countrywide, 7,891 cases of rape were reported, 5 percent more than in 2000. The law prohibits violence against women and the Government has implemented a vast array of legal and social structures to combat it. Societal attitudes toward such violence are strongly negative, and legal and medical recourse are available. During the year, the Government conducted campaigns in schools and through church groups to bring public attention to the existence of such violence and supported numerous pilot projects to combat such violence throughout the country. For example, there were 435 "women's houses," including 115 in the eastern states (excluding Berlin), where victims of violence and their children could seek shelter, counseling, and legal and police protection. In the last few years, the Federal Ministry for Women and Youth has commissioned a number of studies to obtain information on violence against women, sexual harassment, and other matters.
Prostitution is legal in the country. Lawmakers have approved new rules affording prostitutes more benefits such as the chance to enter the social security system and to use the courts to obtain payment for their services.
Trafficking in women was a serious problem (see Section 6.f.).
There were no reports that women were victims of sexual harassment.
The Government continued to implement its multiyear action plan, "Women and Occupation." The program promoted the equality of women and men in the workforce, including increased vocational training for women, greater representation of women in political advisory councils, and the promotion of female entrepreneurs through government grants and participation in regional projects earmarked for women. The Federal Ministry for Families, the Elderly, Women, and Youth also announced a multiyear initiative designed to increase the number of women and girls who receive training in information technology (IT) and in media careers, with the goal of raising the number of IT-training slots to 60,000 by 2003 and the share of female IT-trainees to 40 percent by 2005. The law provides for equal pay for equal work; however, in practice many employers categorized individual jobs held by women differently from the same job held by a man, thereby creating inequalities in pay for men and women. Union contracts typically identified categories of employment in which participants are to be paid less than 100 percent of the wage of a skilled laborer covered by the same contract. Women were represented disproportionately in these lower-wage scale occupations. In general a women's average monthly income was lower than a man's average monthly income. However, if factors such as differences in age, qualification, occupational position, structure of employment or seniority are taken into consideration, women usually were not discriminated against in terms of equal pay for equal work, although they were underrepresented in well paid managerial positions.
In 2000 the European Court of Justice ruled that the Government's prohibition on women in combat roles in the armed forces violated EU directives against discrimination based on gender. The Government accepted the ruling and in 2000 amended the Basic Law to open all military jobs to women on a voluntary basis. The first group of 244 women reported for duty in January 2001. The integration of women into new armed forces roles took place without problems.
The Government was strongly committed to children's rights and welfare; it amply funded systems of public education and medical care. Public education was provided free of charge through the university level and was mandatory through the age of 16; almost all children attended school on a daily basis.
Child abuse was a problem. The law stresses the need for preventive measures, and in response the Government has increased its counseling and other assistance to abused children.
The Criminal Code provides for the protection of children against pornography and sexual abuse. For possession of child pornography, the maximum sentence is 1 year's imprisonment; the sentence for distribution is 5 years. The law makes the sexual abuse of children by citizens abroad punishable even if the action is not illegal in the child's own country. Due to increased law enforcement efforts in this area, 2,745 arrests for possession or distribution of child pornography were made in 2001, an increase of 72 percent over 2000.
Trafficking in girls was a serious problem (see Section 6.f.).
Persons with Disabilities
The Basic Law specifically prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, and there were no reports of discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, or in the provision of other state services. The law mandates several special services for persons with disabilities; they are entitled to assistance to avert, eliminate, or alleviate the consequences of their disabilities and to secure employment commensurate with their abilities. The Government offered vocational training and grants for employers who hired the disabled. Persons with severe disabilities could be granted special benefits, such as tax relief, free public transport, special parking facilities, and exemption from radio and television fees.
The Government set guidelines for the attainment of "barrier-free" public buildings and for modifications of streets and pedestrian traffic walks to accommodate persons with disabilities. All 16 states incorporated the federal guidelines into their building codes, and 98 percent of federal public buildings follow the guidelines for a "barrier-free environment." There were no reports of societal discrimination against persons with disabilities.
The authorities' concerns about terrorism in the last year have led to a reduction of police resources directed at right- and left-wing extremism. The OPC Report for 2001 stated that during the year there were 709 violent right-wing extremist crimes; of these, 18 were anti-Semitic and 374 were anti-foreigner. There were also 9,345 non-violent right-wing extremist crimes, mostly propaganda offenses (6,336). During 2001 there were 750 violent left-wing extremist crimes, and 1,145 non-violent left-wing extremist crimes. Also in 2001 there were 84 violent crimes perpetrated by members of extremist foreign organizations for political reasons, and 427 non-violent crimes perpetrated by these foreigners.
Harassment of foreigners and racial minorities, including beatings, remained very common throughout the country. Media reports indicated that several such incidents occurred per week. In May an ethnic German immigrant from Russia was stoned to death by a group of neo-Nazis in the town of Wittstock (Brandenburg), the location of a government housing facility for 300 Russian immigrants. This high-profile case and the known concentration of leaders of the "right-wing scene" in the area led Brandenburg authorities to form a special police task force to address right-wing extremist crime in northwest Brandenburg. In December a group of approximately ten "skinheads" taunted a black man with racist slurs and beat him with a baseball bat in the town of Voerde (North Rhine-Westphalia). The man was left lying on a rapid-transit train platform where the attack occurred. The perpetrators escaped by boarding a train.
"Membership" in rightwing organizations was difficult to ascertain; however, authorities estimated that there were approximately 1,500 persons nationwide who were leaders of rightwing activities. Authorities estimated an additional 10,000 persons were sympathizers.
A 24-year-old rightwing extremist was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Alberto Adriano (from Mozambique); his two 16-year-old accomplices were each sentenced to 9 years in prison. All three were imprisoned at year's end.
After a 17-month trial by a court in Cottbus (Brandenburg), 3 of the 11 juvenile defendants in the Farid Guenduoul case were acquitted and the rest were found guilty and given "warning" sentences that did not require jail time. The court found that the youths, from the town of Guben, had followed and harassed Guendoul and two other foreigners, and that Guendoul, out of fright, had jumped through a window and sustained fatal injuries. Relatives of Guendoul from Algeria were contemplating an appeal of the sentences.
The Federal Government and state governments remained firmly committed to combating and preventing rightwing violence, although police resources increasingly were allocated to address the terrorist threat. In 2000 Federal and State Interior Ministers agreed on a slate of measures to combat extremist violence, which included increased physical protection of Jewish and other potential targets, the creation of a national register of violent rightwing extremists, increased patrolling or video monitoring by the border police in transit stations, and the prosecution of illegal rightwing content on the Internet (see Section 2.a.). The Federal Border Police also established a hot line for concerned citizens to report rightwing crimes. The Government announced that it would use $34 million (34 million euros) from the EU Social Fund for antirightwing initiatives, to be cofinanced by the states or communities wishing to apply for project funds. In addition a number of state and local governments continued programs to crack down on rightwing extremist activities and to engage young persons considered most "at risk" for rightwing behavior.
In April the 8th Party Congress, the PKK (Kurdistan Communist Party) declared that its historic mission was completed and called for a halt to all activities by members. However, during the year there was a signature collection drive for a petition by PKK members in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). This led to the authorities' discovery of the identities of many PKK members, many of whom were indicted on charges of extremist leftwing activity, consistent with the Government's ban of the PKK.
The Government protected and fostered the languages and cultures of national and ethnic minorities that traditionally lived in the country (for example, Serbs, Danes, Roma, Sinti, and Frisians). Although the Government recognized the Sinti and Roma as an official "national minority" since 1995, the federal and state interior ministries resisted including Romani among the languages to be protected under relevant EU statutes. Critics contended that the Sinti/Romani minority was the only official national minority that did not have unique legal protection, political privilege, or reserved representation in certain public institutions.
Resident foreigners and minority groups continued to voice credible concerns about societal and job-related discrimination. Unemployment affected foreigners disproportionately, although at times this was due in part to inadequate language skills or nontransferable professional qualifications of the job seekers (see Section 6.e.). The Federal Government and all states established permanent commissions to assist foreigners in their dealings with government and society.
6. Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The Basic Law provides for the right to associate freely, choose representatives, determine programs and policies to represent workers' interests, and publicize views, and workers exercised these rights. Approximately 28.5 percent of the total eligible work force belonged to unions. The German Trade Union Federation (DGB) represented approximately 85 percent of organized workers.
The law effectively protects workers against antiunion discrimination. Labor courts are courts of first instance; therefore, complainants file their cases directly with the labor courts. Specialized labor court judges render decisions in these cases.
The DGB participated in various international and European trade union organizations, including the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the International Confederation of Foreign Trade Unions (ICFTU).
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The Basic Law provides for the right to organize and bargain collectively and workers exercised these rights. Collective bargaining was widespread due to a well-developed system of autonomous contract negotiations; mediation was used infrequently. Basic wages and working conditions were negotiated at the industry level. However, some firms in the eastern part of the country refused to join employer associations or withdrew from them and then bargained independently with workers. In addition, some firms in the west withdrew at least part of their work force from the jurisdiction of employer associations, complaining of rigidities in the industrywide, multicompany negotiating system; however, they did not refuse to bargain as individual enterprises. The law mandates a system, known as co-determination, whereby workers are able to participate in the management of the enterprises in which they work through "works councils" and worker membership on boards of directors.
The Basic Law provides for the right to strike, except for civil servants (including teachers) and personnel in sensitive positions, such as members of the armed forces. In the past, the International Labor Organization (ILO) criticized the Government's definition of "essential services" as overly broad. The ILO continued to seek clarifications from the Government on policies and laws governing the labor rights of civil servants.
In May more than 100,000 workers from 85 firms organized a week-long strike, demanding pay increases and more jobs. It was the country's first large-scale strike in 7 years. This was followed by a construction industry strike in June, the first since World War II.
There were no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Bonded Labor
The Basic Law prohibits forced or bonded labor, including by children, and there were no reports that such practices occurred.
In 2000 agreement was reached among eight nations, German companies, and victims' representatives on the establishment of a German foundation that will distribute funds for payments to private and public sector Nazi era forced and slave laborers and others who suffered at the hands of German companies during the Nazi era. The Government and German companies each will contribute $2.3 billion (2.3 billion euros) to the "Remembrance, Responsibility, and the Future Foundation," which was established under the law. The Foundation concluded agreements with partner organizations such as the IOM that are to receive Foundation funds in order to process and pay claims according to agreed procedures and subject to audit. Payments to former forced laborers began in July 2001. Since then the Foundation has paid approximately $2 billion (2 billion euros) to more than one million claimants worldwide.
In October the Foundation signed an agreement with the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, marking another important step in the country's cooperative efforts to address the injustices of World War II and the National Socialist era. This agreement on procedures should enable the International Commission to compensate unpaid or confiscated Holocaust-era insurance claims.
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits the employment of children under the age of 15, with a few exceptions: Those 13 or 14 years of age may do farm work for up to 3 hours per day or may deliver newspapers for up to 2 hours per day; and those 3 to 14 years of age may take part in cultural performances, albeit under stringent curbs on the kinds of activity, number of hours, and time of day. The Federal Labor Ministry effectively enforced the law through its Factory Inspection Bureau.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There was no legislated or administratively determined minimum wage; wages and salaries were set either by collective bargaining agreements between unions and employer federations or by individual contracts. Covering approximately 90 percent of all wage and salary-earners, the collective bargaining agreements set minimum pay rates and were enforceable by law. These minimums provided a decent standard of living for a worker and family.
Federal regulations limit the workweek to a maximum of 48 hours, but the number of hours of work per week was regulated by contracts that directly or indirectly affect 80 percent of the working population. The average workweek for industrial workers was 36 hours in the western part of the country and approximately 39 hours in the eastern states; rest periods for lunch were accepted practices. Provisions for overtime, holiday, and weekend pay varied depending upon the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
There was an extensive set of laws and regulations on occupational safety and health. A comprehensive system of worker insurance carriers enforces safety requirements in the workplace. The Labor Ministry and its counterparts in the states effectively enforced occupational safety and health standards through a network of government bodies, including the Federal Institute for Work Safety. At the local level, professional and trade associations – self-governing public corporations with delegates both from the employers and from the unions – oversaw worker safety. The law provides for the right to refuse to perform dangerous or unhealthy work without jeopardy to continued employment.
Foreign workers legally in the country were protected by law and generally worked in conditions equal to that of citizens; however, wage discrimination affected legal foreign workers to some extent. For example, foreign teachers in some schools were paid less than their German counterparts. In addition, seasonal workers from Eastern Europe who came to the country on temporary work permits often received wages below normal German standards. Workers from other EU countries at times were employed at the same wages that they would receive in their home country, even if the corresponding German worker would receive a higher wage. Foreigners who were employed illegally, particularly in the construction industry in Berlin, were likely to receive substandard wages.
f. Trafficking in Persons
The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, trafficking in persons, primarily women and girls for sexual exploitation, was a serious problem.
The law specifically prohibits trafficking in persons and trafficking in persons is punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment. The Federal Criminal Office and state police actively investigated cases of trafficking and published their findings in an annual trafficking report. In the 2001 report, officials counted and registered 746 trafficked victims – 26 percent fewer than in 2000. However, these numbers referred to trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation only and did not include trafficking for other purposes. The Federal Ministry for Families, the Elderly, Women, and Youth headed an interagency working group to coordinate the efforts of state and federal agencies to combat trafficking and to aid victims of trafficking. The Federal Criminal Office offered a 2-week seminar twice a year to train police officers from all over the country in the handling of trafficking cases. The federal and state Governments worked actively with NGOs and local women's shelters in combating human trafficking. The Government published a brochure that provided information on residency and work requirements, counseling centers for women, health care, warnings about trafficking, and information for sex-industry workers that was printed in 13 languages and distributed by NGOs and German Consulates abroad.
The Federal Government continued a multiyear "Action Plan to Combat Violence Against Women." This effort included the creation of a number of combined federal and state working groups, with the participation of relevant NGOs, to address possible legislative changes, public educational campaigns, and opportunities for greater institutional cooperation. Under this program, the Government planned to spend approximately $373,000 (373,000 euros) over 3 years to establish a "National Coordination Group Against Trafficking in Women and Violence Against Women in the Migratory Process."
In September police in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland arrested 14 persons, including an army colonel, for running a human trafficking ring. The arrests were the result of effective collaboration between German and Polish authorities, who obtained incriminating information from a woman arrested in Poland.
Germany was a destination and transit country for trafficking in persons, overwhelmingly women and girls. Most trafficking victims were women and girls between the ages of 16 and 25 who were forced to work as prostitutes; according to police statistics, less than 0.5 percent of trafficking victims were men or boys. Estimates varied considerably on the number of women and girls trafficked to and through the country; they ranged from 2,000 to 20,000 per year. Approximately 80 percent of trafficking victims came from Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union, primarily from Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia, and the Czech Republic. Frequently crime rings would traffic women who already had been caught in, and deported from, one European country to another European country. The other 20 percent of trafficking victims came from Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Traffickers used fake employment offers, arranged marriages, fraud, and coercive measures to find victims and used various methods to insure their compliance, including threats of "selling" the victim to other traffickers, threats against family members in the country of origin, physical violence, and the withholding of documents.
The Ministry has lobbied states successfully to provide victims of trafficking who had been detained by police 4 weeks to leave the country, rather than have them face immediate deportation. The 4-week grace period allowed the victims time to decide whether to cooperate with police on investigations of those suspected of trafficking. During this time, the women were housed, fed, and provided counseling. However, the interagency Working Group on Trafficking in Women and NGOs claimed that the directive allowing a 4-week grace period was not applied uniformly or correctly. According to the Working Group, victims often were deported immediately after being taken into custody. Those who cooperated, although they are very few in number, were granted a temporary stay for at least part of the proceedings and could be eligible for witness protection at the state level. In three past cases, the children of women in such witness protection programs were brought to the country to prevent possible retaliation against them due to their mother's testimony; however, protection ends once the case is concluded.
Because victims technically were illegal residents, they were not allowed to work during the period of a trial, and because they do not have a residence permit, they only qualified for financial assistance under the federal Law on Payments for Asylum Seekers, which were lower than regular welfare payments. Trafficking victims who could not afford to pay for their return tickets home could be eligible for state and federal funds for transportation and some pocket money.
The Federal Government continued its funding of six counseling centers for women from Central and Eastern Europe, and most states and many communities cofinanced institutions that helped counsel and care for victims of trafficking. The Government also funded the "Coordination Network" (Koordinierungskreis der Fachberatungsstellen/KOK), a network of more than 30 NGOs that participated in processing the caseload of victims of human trafficking. There were more than 30 organizations that fell under the network of the KOK. These organizations provided food, shelter, and counseling to victims.
The country worked with the OSCE on social programs aimed at preventing trafficking in persons. These programs targeted "at risk" young women in their countries of origin and provided information about the dangers of trafficking as well as offering job skill development assistance.