Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the German National Agency for the Prevention of Torture, which acts as National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), reported that the country had not implemented a moratorium on immigration detention orders after the onset of the pandemic; however, some detainees had been released as a consequence of the crisis, in particular because of the grounding of removal flights. The NPM also said that only Niedersachsen, Hamburg, and Nordrhein-Westfalen were testing detainees for Covid-19. In addition, they reported that extensive protection and hygiene measures have been introduced in all detention facilities. The staff and immigration detainees were all informed about measures such as social distancing. Only in Niedersachsen’s Hannover detention centre do staff members have to wear mouth and nose protection. The NPM mentioned that new detainees are separated from others for two weeks and placed in quarantine.
As regards deportations, the NPM said that the decision to which countries removals take place to are left to the Länder. Deportations were never completely suspended in Germany, but largely reduced (see 17 July Germany update on this platform).
On 1 July, Germany’s Development Minister, Gerd Müller, said that Germany may see a new “wave of refugees” from poorer countries due to the pandemic. He announced that Germany has earmarked €3 billion for aid to developing countries. In addition, on the day Germany assumed presidency of the Council of the European Union, Müller also criticised the EU budget assigned for aid to developing countries and urged that more aid be provided: “The EU has only assigned €1 billion per year to Africa. … This is blatantly inadequate. … That is not the way to overcome future problems to do with the pandemic, climate change and economic recovery for the rapidly rising African population. … That’s why I am calling for a €50 billion ‘Recovery and Stabilisation’ program from the EU.”
The country’s prisons have largely been spared from Covid-19 and it was only on 14 July that the first prisoner tested positive for the disease in Saxe-Anhalt, shortly after his arrival. Upon arrival, he was placed in quarantine in the medical department of the Burg correctional facility. Despite being asymptomatic, he tested positive for the virus a few days later.
- National Agency for the Prevention of Torture, Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, 28 July 2020.
- Mitteldeustsche Zeitung, “In JVA des Halle-Attentäters Erstmals Corona-Infektion in Gefägnis Nachgewiesen,” 14 July 2020, https://www.mz-web.de/sachsen-anhalt/in-jva-des-halle-attentaeters-erstmals-corona-infektion-in-gefaengnis-nachgewiesen-37013934
- E. Douglas, “Coronavirus: Germany Warns of ‘Wave of Refugees’ Unless Aid Budget Increased,” DW, 1 July 2020, https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-germany-warns-of-wave-of-refugees-unless-aid-budget-increased/a-54008036
- Two Refugees Standing at the Fence of the Suhl Refugee Reception Centre, (Ingmar Björn Nolting, DOCKS Collective, “A German Photographer Captures Ordinary People Adapting to Life Under Lockdown,” Time, 30 April 2020, https://time.com/5829215/germany-coronavirus-crisis-photos/)
- Jennifer Trunk (National Agency for the Prevention of Torture), email correspondence with Michael Flynn (Global Detention Project), 28 July 2020.