The German Cabinet [official website] approved new asylum laws on Wednesday in response to the hundreds of thousands of refugees [CFR backgrounder] that have entered the country since the beginning of 2015. The bill [press release] will speed up asylum procedures and related legal appeals and will bar entry into the country for some asylum seekers’ families for a period of two years. Benefits provided to asylum seekers were modified. The cabinet also designated Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia as safe countries of origin and thus it will be more difficult for refugees from those areas to find harbor in Germany. The new asylum bill comes after Germany announced [JURIST report] last September that it was invoking temporary border controls at the nation’s southern border with Austria.
The issue of migrant rights has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. In November UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] addressed [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly and cautioned the international community to avoid discrimination against Muslims, especially refugees and migrants entering Europe, as a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris a week earlier. Earlier that month Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] analyzed [JURIST report] the EU’s approach to the refugee crisis and recommended changes to ensure international law is followed and human rights are appropriately valued. In October Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on [JURIST report] the EU and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights gave the opening statement [JURIST report] at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in September in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis.