Federal Republic of Germany
Head of state: Joachim Gauck
Head of government: Angela Merkel

Humanitarian admission programmes for 20,000 Syrian refugees were approved. There were no improvements in the investigation of serious human rights violations by police. The National Agency for the Prevention of Torture remained under-resourced. Discriminatory attacks against asylum-seekers and minorities continued and concerns regarding the investigation and prosecution of these crimes remained. Human rights criteria for arms exports were implemented.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Between 2013 and 2014, Germany started three humanitarian admission programmes for 20,000 Syrian refugees from Syria's neighbouring countries and Egypt. The main aim was extended family reunification. Three hundred refugees were offered resettlement through a UNHCR programme. In December, Germany also decided to offer resettlement to 500 refugees per year starting in 2015. In September, Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were legally defined as safe countries of origin, which reduced opportunities for nationals of these countries to seek protection. A law was passed allowing asylum-seekers to move freely within the country after three months of residence and to have unhindered access to the job market after 15 months. The amended Asylum Seekers Benefit Act, due to enter into force in April 2015, fell short of human rights standards particularly regarding health care.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The authorities failed to address obstacles in the effective investigation of allegations of ill-treatment by police. None of the federal states established an independent complaints mechanism to investigate allegations of serious human rights violations by the police. Except for the federal states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Schleswig-Holstein, there was no obligation for police officers to wear identity badges.

The National Agency for the Prevention of Torture, Germany's preventive mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, remained severely under-resourced, even though there was an increase of funds and a doubling of members for the Joint Commission of the Federal States, one of the two constituent bodies of the Agency. Contrary to international standards, the appointment procedure of the National Agency's members lacked independence and transparency and excluded civil society.

Investigations and proceedings for excessive use of force by the Stuttgart Police in relation to the disproportionate use of water cannons during demonstrations in the city in September 2010 continued.

In September, the Federal Court of Justice upheld the December 2012 conviction of a police officer by the Magdeburg Regional Court, which convicted the officer for negligent homicide in connection with the death of Oury Jalloh, who died in a fire in a cell in a Dessau police station in 2005. The circumstances of Oury Jalloh's death remained unclear.

Also in September, media reports exposed the repeated ill-treatment of asylum-seekers by private security personnel in three reception facilities in North Rhine-Westphalia.


In August 2013, the ad-hoc federal Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry published ground-breaking conclusions regarding the authorities' failure to investigate a series of murders targeting minorities perpetrated by the far-right group National Socialist Underground (NSU). In particular, the authorities had failed to co-operate and to investigate the racist motive of the murders. The Committee recommended reforming the Criminal Code and the system used by police to collect data on "politically motivated crimes", which included information on hate crimes.

In August 2014, the government proposed amending Section 46 of the Criminal Code to require courts to take into account racist, xenophobic or any other "degrading" motive when deciding sentences. The proposal was pending before Parliament at the end of the year.

In the first half of 2014, according to civil society data, there were 155 protests against the establishment of reception facilities for asylum-seekers, mostly by far-right groups. Eighteen attacks against asylum-seekers were also reported.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

The 1980 Law on Changing First Names and the Establishment of Sex Status in Special Cases remained in force, requiring transgender people to comply with mandatory criteria to legally change their gender and names. These included obtaining a psychiatric diagnosis and an expert assessment ordered by courts. These requirements violated transgender people's rights to private life and to the highest attainable standard of health.[1]

Arms trade

In anticipation of more stringent EU regulations on surveillance technologies, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy ordered stricter controls on exports of surveillance technologies to countries which commit human rights violations. Germany ratified the UN Arms Trade Treaty in April and started implementing articles 6 and 7 on human rights criteria for arms exports and transfers before its entry into force, due on 24 December. However, data on arms exports licensed in 2014, including small arms components for Saudi Arabia, raised concern.

Corporate accountability

In November, the Foreign Office, in co-operation with other ministries, business representatives and civil society groups, took steps towards the introduction of a national action plan on business and human rights to implement relevant UN guiding principles.

International justice

The first trial based on the 2002 Code of Crimes under International Law against Rwandan citizens Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni continued at Stuttgart Higher Regional Court.

On 18 February, the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court found Rwandan citizen Onesphore Rwabukombe guilty of abetting genocide. In this first German judgement regarding the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi minority in 1994, Onesphore Rwabukombe was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment for aiding the commission of a massacre at the Kiziguro church compound.

1. The state decides who I am: lack of legal gender recognition for transgender people in Europe (EUR 01/001/2014) www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR01/001/2014/en

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