Germany‘s Federal Administrative Court rules that refugees from Eritrea must obtain a travel document from German authorities. This ruling is by Germany’s supreme administrative court. As a result the refugees must no longer be forced to first obtain papers from the Eritrean embassy beforehand, which require them submitting a “declaration of repentance.” The court ruled that no one should be forced to declare a “crime” to get a passport.
Source: Legal Tribune Online
Eritrean “declarations of remorse” for crimes are unreasonable
Vulnerable people from Eritrea must admit a criminal offense in writing in order to obtain an Eritrean passport. According to the Germany’s Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG), the country’s supreme administrative court, can be forced to do this, so the German authorities must now step in and issue a passport.
Persons entitled to subsidiary protection may not be refused a travel document for foreigners because they can obtain a passport from their country of origin if they submit a “declaration of remorse” with a self-accusation of a criminal offence. The submission of such a declaration is unreasonable, the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) ruled in a judgment on Tuesday (ruling of October 11, 2022, Az. BVerwG 1 C 9.21).
An Eritrean national fled to Germany, where he was granted subsidiary protection. Because those who have left Eritrea illegally are threatened with imprisonment, combined with torture or inhuman and degrading treatment. The refugee later applied to the immigration authorities in Germany for a travel document for foreigners, but the application was rejected. It is reasonable for him to apply for a passport at the Eritrean embassy.
A lower court had ruled that getting a passport application in the Eritrean embassy “reasonable”
On the other hand, the man from Eritrea complained and was successful in the first instance, but the Lower Saxony Higher Administrative Court in Lüneburg agreed with the immigration authorities and did not consider the requirements for issuing a passport to be met. Because according to § 5 paragraph 1 of the Residence Ordinance it is not unreasonable to apply for a passport at the Eritrean embassy if “the person concerned is at risk of serious harm from state authorities”.
In addition, other circumstances such as the endangerment of relatives living in the country of origin would have to be added. Paying a “development or diaspora tax” of two percent of his income and submitting a “declaration of remorse” regretting that he had not complied with his “national duty” and accepting any penalties that may have been imposed is not enough .
The higher Federal Court now ruled against this, and obliged the immigration authorities to issue the man with a passport. Because it cannot be expected of the person in need of subsidiary protection to submit a declaration of this content against his expressly stated will. The court weighed his basic rights against the interests of the state, which would have to take into account the sovereignty of the country of origin, and ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Because no one should be forced to declare a crime, even if the punishment is not increased and the sentence is perhaps even reduced.
ast/LTO editorial team