BGS leaves the “dirty” work to the Algerian police

To the media
To refugee organisations
To human rights organisations

Berlin, May 25, 1999

BGS leaves the “dirty” work to the Algerian police

The German government is preparing for mass deportations to Algeria.

As of June 1, Algerian police are supposed to carry out the deportations of rejected Algerian asylum seekers from Germany.
As of June 1, 1999, refugee deportees will be met at German airports by Algerian security personnel and will be flown to Algeria. This plan was derived from a March 31, 1999 writing by the German Interior Ministry to the Interior Minister and Interior Senators of the German States and from a “Memorandum on the second meeting of experts concerning the practical application of the protocol between the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria and Germany with regard to identification and readmission from February 17 and 18, 1999.”
At these expert meetings (April 27-28, 1998, and February 17-18, 1999), the modalities for the execution of the February 14, 1997, signed readmission protocol between the Algerian and the German governments were discussed and the following points of agreement were established:

The points of agreement written in the protocol are to be carried out as of June 1, 1999.

The Border Control authority will carry out the deportations by handling the flight arrangements through the “relevant airline agencies or through an authorised travel agency,” by notifying the DGSN (Direction Générale de la Sûreté Nationale) of the deportations and by paying for the cost of the deportations.

The DGSN will provide “specialized security personnel” that will receive the deported individuals at the door of the airplane at the German airports. The number of refugee deportees is not to exceed 30 per flight and during the preliminary stage “will be set at five deportees with a ratio of two security escorts per accompanied person.”

The documents that serve to identify the person are to be handed over to an authorised employee of the airline or to Algerian security personnel.

An experts meeting is planned for September 1999, to be attended by representatives of the countries, which will focus on “an increase in the number of returning persons and also a renewed discussion as to possibility of the use of charter flights.”

The points of agreement with regard to the practical execution of the deportations were preceded by a February 1997 readmission agreement that specifies the procedure for the identification of the deportees. The procedures for determining Algerian citizenship however are relaxed significantly through the new agreement. If the relevant person does not have a passport or a personal ID, the Algerian consulate general will issue a Laissez-Passer upon the presentation of various documents, of which the following are sufficient: a military ID; an residence permit application presented to a German agency; a visa application presented to the German administration; an Algerian driver’s license ; a birth certificate; a declaration that was made to the German judiciary or administrative agencies and was recorded (is an asylum application a document that is eligible for the issuance of a Laissez-Passer?); or, a copy of those above, etc… In case Algerian citizenship cannot be established via these methods, a hearing of Algerian consulate staff will take place.

The agreement, which was signed by the CDU/FDP government, has already been employed with regard to the identification of the deportees. So far however, Algerian security forces have not arrived at German airports in order to facilitate the return of their country(wo)men from Germany. The modalities of that section of the agreement were agreed upon under the red-green government.
In light of the German practice of denying Algerian asylum seekers (1.7% grant rate), the fear is that many of the deportees are either members of the Islamic opposition, deserters of the army and the police or conscientious objectors that would be in great danger of being tortured or killed upon being deported. Moreover, in Europe, the activities of the Algerian secret service are known to consist of monitoring Algerian refugees and attributing “subversive” activities to them when they, for example, regularly visit a mosque or live near an active refugee group.

Human rights and refugee organisations have long pointed to the danger faced by returning Algerian refugees and have called for a halt on deportations to Algeria. Approximately 7,000 rejected asylum seekers are affected by the accord. It is known that many deported refugees are tortured upon arrival and subsequently either disappear or are arbitrarily held in custody. The German police leave the “dirty” work to their Algerian colleagues, who, as is generally known, do not proceed with much restraint. It is expected that the refugees, who are to be brought into the plane before any of the other passengers, will be handled in such a way to break down any resistance to the deportation. Upon their arrival in Algeria, they will be placed directly into police custody where they will be subject to interrogation. What happens to them while in custody and thereafter is entirely in the discretion of the militant Algerian security service.

The massive human rights violations committed by the Algerian regime have been documented and condemned by many organisations for years: in the seven years that the war has continued over 100,000 people have been killed and over 4,000 have been recorded as “disappeared;” in the commissariats, torture is systematic; thousands have been extrajudicially executed; the judiciary and the media toe the government line; and still today, no investigations have been initiated to shed some light on the huge massacres of 1997/1998. Furthermore, the last Presidential elections in Algeria demonstrated that the military junta is not yet ready for a process of democratisation since they allowed for the election of their favorite candidate – Abdelaziz Bouteflika – in a masquerade election despite the withdrawal of the six opposition candidates.

fter his election to President, the situation in the country did not improve: protest marches by the opposition were banned, people continued to be massacred, and approximately 100 opposition officers were arrested, etc…

All of this however does not deter the German government from unconditionally supporting the Algerian government: with economic ties continuing to intensify (see the “5th German-Algerian Economic Forum” in December 1998, in which 100 German representatives and 30 representatives of the biggest Algerian firms were present) and with the Department for Foreign Affairs developing euphemistic country condition reports that are out of touch with reality (see the analysis of the country condition report from algeria-watch in: Infomappe 7, January 1999), the German Interior Ministry has now decided to deport Algerian refugees in big contingents from the country.

As of June 1, the preparations for the future mass deportations will begin.

As long as the Algerian military junta is certain of the support of the European Community – including Germany – it will not authorise any fundamental political and economic changes that could endanger its position of power.

Therefore, we call upon the German government to:

Annul the readmission accord with the Algerian government;
Prevent deportations to Algeria;

Develop realistic and unpolished country condition reports;

Call upon the Algerian government to authorise the establishment of independent investigatory commissions;

Ensure respect for human rights from the Algerian government through economic and political pressure.

Support the Algerian opposition in its efforts to introduce a true democratisation process (see the manifesto of the 6 presidential candidates from May 14, 1999).

We are calling upon organisations, people and institutions to sign and pass along by May 27 the attached appeal for the nullification of the readmission accord.

Please contact algeria-watch with respect to the signatures, since the signed appeal should be sent to the Interior Minister and the media before June 1.

Protest letters can be sent to the following address:
Bundesministerium des Inneren
z.Hd. Otto Schily
Graurheindorfer Straكe 198
53117 Bonn
Telephone: (0228) 681-0
Fax: (0228) 681-4665
Email: [email protected]