US News Opinion: The high hurdles of the rule of law

03:15  24 october  2020
03:15  24 october  2020 Source:   dw.com

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The alleged attack in Dresden causes discussions: Should foreign offenders be deported as quickly as possible? However, to sacrifice the rule of law is not a solution, says Hans Brandt.

Abschiebung (Symbolbild) © Daniel Kubirski / picture-alliance Deportation (symbol picture)

After the fatal knife attack in Dresden on two visitors from the Rhineland , there are increasing calls for the immediate deportation of threats known to the police. In this case, a 20-year-old Syrian was arrested as the alleged perpetrator, who had been known to the security authorities for years as a violent Islamist - and was even observed by the authorities in Saxony on the day of the crime.

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It goes without saying that such a man - should he be found guilty of the act - is not allowed to run around freely and is not welcome in Germany. This provides the basis for a deportation - in order to actually carry it out, considerable legal and practical requirements are required Hurdles to be overcome. They range from German legal provisions and constitutional bases to international human rights conventions and agreements with the perpetrator's country of origin.

Deportation stop for Syria

Deportations from Germany are currently excluded for Syria. For the civil war country, there has been a complete ban on deportations since 2012. This is renewed every six months by the conference of interior ministers of the federal states. This last happened in June and is back on the agenda in December. The basis for the decision is a confidential situation report on Syria, which is prepared by the Foreign Office in Berlin. So far, it has emerged from this that the conditions in Syria are so uncertain that deportation is under no circumstances justified - not even for the most serious offenders.

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When Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer now says that he will "be very committed to ensuring that we check whether it is not possible to deport to the pacified areas in Syria", then it is a declaration of intent that assumes that the Foreign Office will change its assessment of the situation. That seems unlikely at the moment. But even if "pacified areas" were to be identified in Syria, that would not mean that deportations would be possible quickly.

model Afghanistan?

The situation in Afghanistan is comparable: rejected asylum seekers are already brought to "pacified areas" of the country. Years of negotiations with the Afghan government were necessary before this became possible, to which development funds were promised in return. For the federal government, the political price for the agreement is still considerable: The criticism, for example from refugee organizations in Germany, continues to this day.

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The rule of law is one of the longest established common law fundamental principles of the governance of the United Kingdom, dating to Magna Carta of 1215, particularly jurisprudence following its late 13th century re-drafting.

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DW-Hauptstadtkorrespondent Hans Brandt © DW / S. Kinkartz DW's capital city correspondent Hans Brandt

Such an agreement with Syria, with the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad, is currently unthinkable. The German embassy in Damascus is closed and diplomatic relations are interrupted. Syria is out of the question as a country for deportations as long as no new political order is found there.

In addition, deportations are by no means self-evident, even to countries with which there are agreements. An example that is cited again and again is Anis Amri, the Islamist who drove a truck into the Christmas market at Berlin's Memorial Church in December 2016 and killed eleven people. Amri was known to the security authorities as a threat; he should long ago have been deported to his home country Tunisia. But the Tunisian authorities did not issue him with the necessary papers. Amri stayed in Germany.

A great good is at stake

Amri or the alleged perpetrator from Dresden could not have been detained for an unlimited period of time. This is foreseen, but it must remain proportionate and must conform to the principles of the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. And this procedure should never be questioned. Because it is about a great good that is bestowed on all people in Germany, regardless of where they come from: It is about the rule of law. There are good reasons why convicted murderers have rights that they can enforce in court. That is what makes the deportation process in Germany so complex and lengthy.

Nevertheless, it is no alternative to give up constitutional principles in order to get rid of individual Islamist violent criminals. That would weaken the German position and ultimately play into the hands of the extremists. All that remains is the laborious control and monitoring of such threats as provided by law. In the Dresden case it tragically failed.

Author: Hans Brandt

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