Annual Report: Germany 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Germany 2010

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Head of state Horst Köhler
Head of government Angela Merkel
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 82.2 million
Life expectancy 79.8 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 5/5 per 1,000

The absolute prohibition on torture continued to be undermined by government adherence to a policy of deportation with assurances, placing individuals at risk of serious human rights violations. Parliament concluded its inquiry into renditions (unlawful transfer of suspects between countries) and other counterterrorism related abuses. Irregular migrants were denied their economic, social and cultural rights.

Counter-terror and security

Two criminal cases involving terrorism suspects raised concerns about the use of evidence allegedly obtained through torture.

In a case tried before the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz between December 2008 and July 2009, the prosecution's indictment relied partly on statements made by the accused while in custody in Pakistan,where he claimed he was beaten and deprived of sleep.

In April, it became known that, in June and September 2008, German investigators had interrogated a detained witness in the presence of the Uzbekistani National Security Service in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where torture is systematic. The interrogation formed part of the criminal investigations in a case tried before the Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf.

Regulatory rules governing the Aliens Act entered into force in October. They provide for the use of "diplomatic assurances" to justify returning terrorism suspects to places where they are at risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in contravention of international obligations. Such assurances are unreliable and do not provide an effective safeguard against torture.

The authorities continued to accept "diplomatic assurances" from the Tunisian government as sufficient to eliminate the risk of torture in cases of planned forcible returns of Tunisian nationals suspected of terrorism-related activities.

  • In March, the Administrative Court in Düsseldorf ruled in the case of a Tunisian national that "diplomatic assurances" undermine the absolute ban on torture and prohibited the forcible return of the plaintiff. The authorities challenged this ruling and the case was pending at the end of the year.

Parliament debated the report of its inquiry into renditions and secret detention in July. The report concluded that the government and intelligence services had no direct or indirect involvement in renditions and secret detention. However, Amnesty International found that both the inquiry and report provided enough evidence to conclude that Germany was complicit in human rights violations, and criticized parliament for failing to propose any measures to prevent such abuses in future. On 17 June, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the government had violated Constitutional Law by not providing the parliamentary committee of inquiry with relevant documents, which the government said should remain classified in order to protect the welfare of the state. The committee of inquiry did not resume its investigation.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

The number of rejected asylum-seekers forcibly returned to Syria increased considerably after a German-Syrian re-admission agreement came into force in January. Following reports of returned Syrian asylum-seekers being detained, the government ordered a risk assessment re-evaluation and recommended a de facto moratorium on deportations to Syria in mid-December.