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Germany, Federal government undermines Data Protection laws for African refugees

African refugees in Germany, also people without a German passport, face undermined data protection laws by the Federal government. Collecting personal data from citizens and then merging them in a central file is unlawful in Germany and this is what will happen to their data.

PRO ASYL, the refugee councils and the Digital courage association, demand that Data protection must also be ensured for refugees. The currently negotiated draft law on the central register of foreigners urgently needs to be revised.

Federal government wants the mandate to collect a large amount of information about refugees in a centralised manner and make it accessible to government agencies. This includes findings from the asylum procedure.

The information collected will be personal details such as sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political views and escape stories.

The Central Register of Foreigners (AZR) can already be viewed by around 16,000 institutions. These include social welfare offices and immigration authorities, customs offices and job centres, police authorities, public prosecutors and German diplomatic missions abroad.

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, more than 150,000 individual users can access the AZR as a source of information, and a large number of them should also have access to asylum files and the like.

“This is a highly dangerous development that opens the door to abuse. Too many access data in an uncontrolled manner, there is a risk that even the countries of origin will receive information, ”warns Andrea Kothen, a consultant at PRO ASYL who has written a detailed statement on the proposed law.

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The draft law disregards the basic right to information self-determination. In the case that the asylum notices of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the decisions of the courts and identity documents should be automatically retrievable in the new central document storage.

The Federal Government does not have to provide a comprehensible declaration of the considerable public interest in making sensitive information about the state of health of a refugee available to an entire group of authorities.

Such disclosing of information about the refugees in Germany could lead to information getting in the wrong hands and can even put families of the refugee, back home, in danger let alone the refugee them self.

This could open the door to a whole lot of abuse.

This disclosure of very personal information to a large number of authorities significantly interferes with the right of those affected to the protection of private life (Article 8 ECHR, Article 17 UN Civil Covenant) and the fundamental right to informational self-determination (Article 2 GG).

PRO ASYL, the refugee councils and the Digital courage association call on members of the Bundestag to reject this draft law. It is impossible to foresee which information flows will be considered legitimate in the course of future “deportation cooperation” with the countries of origin.

Source: PROASYL, Refugee council Berlin

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