19 Jun 2024, 17:04

Germany weighs expulsions to Afghanistan via 3rd countries

BERLIN, June 19, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Germany is in talks with third countries to find ways to deport criminals to Afghanistan without dealing directly with the Taliban, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said Wednesday.

"We are working hard to ensure that we can once again deport dangerous Islamists and violent criminals to Afghanistan," Faeser told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung daily.

"We are pursuing confidential negotiations with various states to open ways to make deportations to Afghanistan again," she said.

"German security interests clearly come first," she added.

Germany completely stopped deportations to Afghanistan and closed its embassy in Kabul following the Taliban's return to power in 2021.

The debate over resuming such expulsions re-emerged after a 25-year-old Afghan was accused of killing a police officer in a knife attack last month.

Officials have explored the possibility of carrying out deportations via third countries such as Uzbekistan, Der Spiegel daily reported.

The subject will be high on the agenda at a meeting of regional interior ministers Wednesday, along with the possibility of processing asylum cases in countries outside the European Union.

Faeser's ministry has commissioned a report on the feasibility of asylum processing centres in third countries, similar to arrangements between Italy and Albania or Britain and Rwanda.

The idea has been supported, among others, by figures from the opposition conservatives.

But the report, seen by AFP, says many experts have "expressed scepticism and criticism about the legal and practical implementation" of such a model.

Berlin has taken a harder line on immigration as it looks to counter the popularity of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has made much of the issue.

The party came second in Germany in recent European Parliament elections, ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats.

The push to resume deportations towards Afghanistan has however been questioned by other senior government figures.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said earlier this month that deportations to Afghanistan "cannot avoid key constitutional and, above all, security issues".

"How do you expect to work with an Islamist terrorist regime with whom we have no relations at all?" Baerbock said.

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