Date: Tuesday, 13 June 2023
BERLIN taz | A week after one taz report it looks like Eritrean people in need of subsidiary protection will now get a travel document for foreigners nationwide. They should no longer be sent to the Eritrean missions abroad in order to have to get an Eritrean passport there under unreasonable conditions. That said Markus Grünewald, Secretary of State for the Interior in Potsdam, in the Brandenburg State Parliament’s Interior Committee.
Mehmet Ata, spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior, confirms the taz: “In order to ensure uniform application of the law, we will make recommendations for action.” If these come about, then a corresponding judgment by the Federal Administrative Court of October 2022 would finally be implemented nationwide with a delay of eight months.
The judgment obliges German immigration authorities to issue a travel document for foreigners to Eritrean persons entitled to asylum. Because you can only get a passport and other consular services in the Eritrean embassy if you declare in writing that you regret fleeing Eritrea and that you are going to face the Eritrean judiciary for this act. This also involves paying a large sum of money to the Eritrean state.
As the taz reported, Brandenburg and Bavaria have not yet implemented the verdict. In circulars from these countries to the local immigration authorities, which the taz has available, it says that it is not at all certain that Eritrea’s embassy will demand such a declaration of remorse in each individual case. The refugees should therefore go to the embassy and then prove that this is required of them.
But proof is impossible, because you are not allowed to take witnesses, mobile phones or cameras into the embassy, and you are not allowed to copy any documents there. In Brandenburg, some immigration authorities even go further and require Eritreans to get an ID card from the embassy to prove their identity. Even that does not exist without a declaration of remorse.
A spokesman for the Brandenburg district office in Ostprignitz-Ruppin tells the taz that until there is a nationwide regulation, travel documents for foreigners will only be issued if they present proof of identity from the embassy.
“So far we have assumed that this declaration of repentance will not be required of all Eritreans, hence our instructions,” said State Secretary Markus Grünewald in the state parliament’s interior committee. But the Federal Ministry of the Interior had now verbally explained to Potsdam that Eritrean diplomatic missions abroad received these declarations from all Eritreans of draft age demand who left the country illegally. These are almost all Eritrean asylum seekers in Germany. “If the federal government explains this to us in writing, we will change our instructions,” said State Secretary Grünewald.
Brandenburg left-wing MP Andrea Johlige, who raised the issue in the committee, is pleased “that the Ministry of the Interior has followed our arguments and will now ensure that refugees from Eritrea have access to passport documents. We will keep a close eye on how the local immigration authorities are now implementing this.”
Meanwhile, around 1,400 people have signed a petition to the Ministry of Integration in Rhineland-Palatinate demanding a travel document for Eritreans. In Rhineland-Palatinate there are no state directives, so the local immigration authorities make different decisions.