German chancellor backs deportation of refugees committing crimes
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she supports legal modifications to make it easier to deport refugees who commit crimes in Germany.
Merkel made the remark during a Friday meeting in the wake of a string of sexual assaults against young women in the city of Cologne during New Year’s festivities. Some of those accused of the harassment are said to be asylum seekers.
At least 120 women have told police they were sexually assaulted or robbed by a gang of men “of North African or Arab appearance” near Cologne’s main train station on New Year’s Eve. Among the women, two were reportedly raped.
The German police say at least 31 people have been arrested in connection with the sexual assaults in Cologne.
Addressing her fellow members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at the meeting in the city of Mainz, the chancellor also said changing the current laws is of great importance both for Germans and the asylum seekers who were not present in Cologne during New Year events.
Under existing laws in Germany, refugees are only forcibly deported if they have been sentenced to jail terms of at least three years, and if their lives are not in danger in their countries of origin.
“The most important thing is that the facts about what happened [in Cologne] are spoken about openly and bluntly. Terrible things happened, and we must respond to them,” Merkel said.
CDU officials are to propose that refugees be deported if they have been jailed for any length of time in Germany.
“We should ask ourselves whether it might be necessary to take (the right to remain in Germany) away earlier — and I have to say that for me, we must take it away sooner,” Merkel said.
More than one million refugees, mostly from crisis-hit countries in the Middle East and North Africa, entered Germany in 2015.
Merkel is under great pressure following the incidents in Cologne, as they have raised some doubts about the chancellor’s decision to allow in so many refugees. Some people in Germany have criticized Merkel’s open-door policy toward asylum seekers.