[JURIST] Authorities in Germany arrested an unidentified 26-year-old Algerian man on Monday on suspicion of committing sexual assault during New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne. The man, who is reported to be an asylum seeker, is accused [The Guardian report] of groping a woman and stealing her mobile phone. He was arrested at a refugee home in the nearby town of Kerpen over the weekend. The arrest comes in the wake of an investigation into a string of sexual assaults that triggered a debate about integration in Germany. According to a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, Ulrich Bremer, 497 women have reported sexual assaults, including three rapes. Twenty-one other individuals have been charged with non-sexual offenses including pick-pocketing, luggage theft and drug-related offenses allegedly committed during New Year's Eve, while many more have been detained by police. According to police, some of the detained include [WSJ report] individuals suspected to be living illegally in Germany.
Germany has been struggling in its attempt to balance the rights of refugees against the security interests of its own citizens. Last September, Germany invoked temporary border controls [JURIST report] at the nation's southern border with Austria, after thousands of immigrants entered the country within days. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel [official profile, in German] has presented various initiatives [WSJ report] in recent months aimed at discouraging individuals from leaving their countries for Germany for purely economic reasons and to deport those who have no chance of gaining asylum or who have committed crimes. Also in September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] the global community to develop comprehensive solutions to allow for safe and legal migration. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants similarly urged the EU to create [JURIST report] a new human-rights-minded migration policy to empower migrants.