The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture has accused German police of choking and squeezing the genitals of an Afghan asylum seeker who was being expelled from the country, according to Al Jazeera. Politico reported that the incident occurred during the returnee’s flight back to Kabul last August, where officers responded to the man’s resistance by putting pressure on his throat and later squeezing his genitals for periods of time to elicit compliance. The report called for the immediate end of these two techniques.
“To ill-treat a person by squeezing the genitals, a technique which is clearly aimed at inflicting severe pain to gain compliance, is both excessive and inappropriate,” the report said. However, it also found that the deportation flight was overall “well prepared and carried out professionally.” German officials have responded to the report by saying it has forwarded the report’s recommendations to federal police.
This abuse of an asylum seeker adds insult to injury to Germany’s policy of deporting Afghans who are not granted asylum. According to CNN, Germany began its policy of deporting failed asylum seekers to Afghanistan at the end of 2016. CNN reports there was a surge in deportations, especially to Afghanistan, to which it has been deemed safe to repatriate asylum seekers despite ongoing violence. In 2017, 470 Afghans were deported from Germany while over 3,000 people were killed and 7,000 injured due to violence in the country. These deported asylum seekers fear being targeted when they return home, and CNN even reports a case where a man took his own life after being deported to Afghanistan.
The flight that flew the Afghan asylum seeker from Munich to Kabul also carried 46 other Afghans whose asylum requests had been denied, according to Al Jazeera. The flight also carried three representatives from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and 100 German police officers, six of which were involved in detaining the asylum seeker. These policies have caused the number of people seeking asylum in Germany to drop from 722,000 in 2016 to 198,000 in 2017, according to data from CNN. Numbers are projected to fall even further.
This call from an international body to reform the process should open Germany’s eyes to the violence it subjects asylum seekers to, not only during repatriation but also when they return to countries with ongoing violence. The Council of Europe’s participation in overseeing these return flights – of which they have overseen five so far – will be crucial to protecting asylum seekers who are repatriated. However, it could do much more to stop the repatriation of these refugees altogether.