FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY: Despicable Cologne sexual attacks must not be followed by racial hatred and discrimination

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17 Jan 2016
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Refugees and Migrants

German authorities must ensure that the perpetrators of widespread sexual violence in Cologne on New Year’s Eve face justice irrespective of where they come from, while also protecting refugees and migrants from any racist backlash, said Amnesty International today.

Amnesty International has called for a tightening of German sex crime laws following the sexual assaults in Cologne and other German cities. These attacks are a serious violation of women’s right to physical integrity. The offenders showed, in a very disturbing manner, that they do not respect women’s dignity. As a matter of principle, perpetrators of any form of sexual violence against women should feel the full force of the law – irrespective of where they come from.

Sexual violence against women takes place across all sections of society. There has been a longstanding need for the German authorities to tighten vague sex crime laws to make it clear that no means no. A lack of consent to a sexual act must be enough for any sexual offence to be considered a sex crime. Following the alarming events in Cologne, Amnesty International warns that every effort must be made to ensure against an increase in both racism from mainstream society and racially motivated violence against refugees and migrants. Right-wing extremists, as well as some conservative politicians, are fuelling xenophobia and racism by turning the issue of sexual violence against women into a tool to discriminate against refugees and migrants. This sets a dangerous precedent and politicians and the media must not pit the rights of women and the rights of refugees and migrants against each other.

Amnesty International also rejects current calls to step up checks on people even if they are not under suspicion. In practice, this could lead to increased racial profiling.
The inhumane events in Cologne on New Year’s Eve must not have any impact on Germany’s asylum policy. The German government must not allow the crimes committed by a number of men to dictate the fate of over 1.1 million refugees in Germany.

Amnesty International also rejects any possible tightening of the German law on expulsion. German law currently allows for criminal asylum seekers and foreigners to be expelled from Germany if they have been sentenced. In principle, no person may be deported to their homeland if they are at risk of persecution, torture or death; anything else would be a violation of international law.

12 January 2016

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