German Minister Threatens Sanctions on Countries Who Refuse to Take Back Migrants

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere gives a press conference on March 14, 2017 in Berlin after a meeting with the steering committee of the German Conference on Islam. De Maiziere said Ankara was playing the role of the victim with its broadsides against NATO allies, as it seeks to …

The German government is putting pressure on African countries to take back their citizens who have failed to claim asylum by threatening economic sanctions.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière announced Tuesday that countries who refuse to take back their citizens who illegally entered Germany will face potential economic sanctions and the loss of development aid. He also said the government could make it more difficult for politicians of those countries to enter the European Union (EU) if they chose not to cooperate, Der Spiegel reports.

Mr. de Maizière made the proposal at a meeting of federal government ministers who broadly agreed with him. He demanded the EU take a more active role in negotiating with countries to take back their nationals and said the policy must be directed at promoting readiness and willingness for the countries to take back their citizens.

“It is obligatory under international law to take back their own citizens,” de Maizière said adding that if the EU acted as a whole it would make the negotiations stronger and more likely to be accomplished.

According to German statistics, around 207,000 foreigners are in Germany illegally and were supposed to voluntarily leave or be deported by the end of 2016. 99,000 of those were individuals who had been rejected for asylum by the government.  54,000 people left Germany voluntarily and 27,000 were forcibly deported, most of them being from the Balkan region.

North African migrants have been the hardest for the German government to deport as many of the countries make demands on the Germans which can skyrocket the cost of deportations to as much as €55,000 per person.

Very few North Africans are granted asylum status in Germany as most of the countries in the region are considered safe. In 2015, only two migrants out of over 2,000 from the Maghreb were granted asylum status.

In 2016, over 8,000 migrants were rejected for asylum, but only 368 were actually deported between January and November. As well as making costly demands, some governments in North Africa have simply chosen not to accept their nationals back, particularly if the governments of those nations deem their citizens lack the proper paperwork.

Minister de Maizière is a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the party is looking to a stricter deportation policy ahead of this Autumn’s federal election.  The CDU and de Maizière have also advocated sending migrants back to Greece, though the Greek government has said they cannot handle the number of migrants they currently have.

 Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at


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