In May 2016, the Bundestag decided in response to the New Year's events in 2015 at Cologne's main railway station, to declare Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as “safe countries of origin”. But so far, the Federal Council has not ratified the corresponding draft law. In the second chamber, three voices were missing to obtain the majority. After the terrorist attack in Berlin last December and the following events in the New Year’s eve 2016 in Cologne, politicians of different political colors have once again raised the debate and publicly challenged their previous positions.
But are the three Maghreb countries really safe?
According to the German “Grundgesetz” (constitution) and the EU procedural guidelines, a state can only be designated as a “safe state of origin” if, as a general rule, neither persecution nor torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment nor threat of arbitrary violence in an international or domestic armed conflict are existent or imminent. Whether or not these conditions are met for the Maghreb countries, different opinions are coexisting.
Within the framework of the evening event, experts from Germany and the region will discuss the concept of a safe country of origin, the previous experiences (for example in the Western Balkans) and the possible consequences of such a classification for Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
Last but not least, there is also the question of what this classification process would mean in practice, but also politically and legally, for the German asylum system.