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German nun fined for granting church asylum to Nigerian women facing deportation

A nun from the Franciscan nunnery at the Oberzell monastery in Southern Germany has been found guilty of aiding two Nigerian asylum seekers. She was fined 500 euros.

The nun, Juliana Seelamn 38 , aided two women from Nigeria who said they were trying to escape forced prostitution in Italy where they had first fled to. German officials had tried to send them back to Italy where the two women knew they would be forced into prosituiyio again.

They were able to find their way into the church’s protections under a practice often referred to in Germany as ‘ church asylum’.

Church asylum means the temporary admission of refugees by a parish in order to avert deportation. The aim is the resumption or reexamination of the asylum or immigration procedure for the individual refugee. The practice has a long history in Germany.

There occurred an influx in the number of asylum seekers in Germany in 2015 and 2016 which resulted in many applications being rejected.

Churches prevents 498 deportations in the first quarter of 2018, but come the next year authorities rejected almost ll church asylum cases.

The nuns and priests point to article 4 of the German constitution, which guarantees the freedom of faith and conscience.

That is also what nun Seelmann cited in her defence.

German prosecutors argue that church premise do not enjoy any legal exceptions or special status. And police and the public prosecutor’s office must have access to the people staying there to conduct deportations if these have been ordered.

Several priest or nuns who gave refugees refuge on church premiss have ben prosecuted for violating German law. Seelmann’s case is the third to go down within the span of only a few years.

Source: DW