German parliament classifies Maghreb states and Georgia as safe countries of origin

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-18 21:54:10|Editor: mmm
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BERLIN, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Following a debate held on Friday, the German parliament (Bundestag) adopted a draft law that classifies the Maghreb states of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco as well as Georgia as safe countries of origin.

Asylum procedures for people arriving from these countries would be accelerated, and the return procedure of rejected applicants to their home country would also be speeded up, Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said during the parliamentary debate on Friday.

Safe countries of origin are countries in which there is neither political persecution nor "inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment," according to the German constitution.

The law would be important in order to avoid creating "false hopes" about a future in Germany among people from the Maghreb states and Georgia, said Helge Lindh, a deputy of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), prior to the parliamentary debate. The change to the law would be "an expression of healthy pragmatism".

A total of 509 parliamentarians voted for the law, 138 deputies rejected the amendment, while four abstained.

"The instrument of 'safe countries of origin' does not solve any of the mentioned problems in Germany and in my opinion it contradicts the criteria of the Federal Constitutional Court," Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock complained prior to the vote. "In view of the democratic efforts in the Maghreb states, it is quite the contrary, even counterproductive."

The law has yet to be approved by the German Federal Council. Back in 2017, the governing grand coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU-CSU group and the SPD failed to win the council's approval with a similar bill.