The German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR) published its second annual report on the human rights situation in Germany on Wednesday. Covering the period from July 1 2016 to June 30 2017, it is to be presented on International Human Rights Day to the German parliament.
The report covered five main areas: Germany within the system of human rights protection, developments since July 2016, organizing everyday life in communal accomodation facilities, refugees with disabilities and the right of children to contact with a parent held in prison.
The report highlighted the situation for some 400,000 asylum seekers - finding poor conditions of hygiene in some of the collective housing and facilities which were difficult to access. Some were reported to be sub-standard. Good integration was being prevented, the DIMR said with limited access to language courses. It also cited consequences from families being separated.
A culture of human rights
"We need a culture of human rights - in all areas of politics and life," Beate Rudolf, the DIMR director said at a press conference. As an independent human rights institution, the DIMR has a legal mandate to submit an annual report on the situation and development of human rights in Germany. It carries out its own studies and analyses publicly available data.
A number of people were found not to be well informed about their rights and rarely made complaints about conditions.
Rudolf said there had been reports of resident being banned from the housing centers for minor rule violations "with the result that the individual became homeless."
There were cases of "abuse of power" in some of the centers and the DIMR called for independent complaints offices to be set up.
The DIMR director also called for families to be reunited with a view to improving integration. "We know and see that family reunification facilitates the integration of people," Rudolf said. "The human right to family life must not become the plaything of politics."
Refugees with disabilities face particular challenges, according to DIMR. While official figures are not available studies indicate that between 16 and 55 percent of all refugees arriving in Germany have been traumatized.
"Only if a disability is detected can a person be adequately accommodated and cared for," Rudolf said. There currently no systematic way to help and identify refugees with disabilities at an early stage and to deal with them adequately. The DIMR Director called on the Bundestag to initiate such a procedure. "In the accommodation, the special needs of refugees with disabilities are hardly considered," the DIMR reported.
Germany has taken in more than a million refugees in recent years. The majority of people arrived in 2016, from Syria and Iraq
bk/jm (dpa, AFP)