Interior ministers from Germany’s federal states said on Thursday, December 5 that they plan to ease deportation rules to allow Syrians convicted of serious crimes to be returned to the war-torn country.
The move has been pushed by conservative and far-right lawmakers following a series of high-profile crimes involving migrants in recent years.
“The will to deport criminals to Syria as well as Afghanistan is there,” Joachim Grote, chairman of the conference of interior ministers and a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, told reporters after a meeting in Luebeck in northern Germany.
But Grote admitted implementing the policy would be tough as Germany has “no contact person in Syria.”
A further complication is that each German state will have to debate the issue before deportations can resume.
Germany has put deportations to Syria on hold since the start of the conflict, which has killed 370,000 people.
The suspension has been extended every six months.
But major crimes have sparked calls for the policy to be relaxed in the case of criminals such as the 24-year-old Syrian man convicted for killing a German man in the eastern city of Chemnitz last year.
The murder led to protests by far-right groups.
Merkel, in power for 14 years, has been under pressure ever since 2015 when she decided not to close German borders to a mass influx of refugees and migrants.
The move earned her much praise but also sparked an angry backlash that fueled the rise of the anti-immigration and anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has been vocal in calling for deportations.
The Pro Asyl migrant charity said the deportation ban should be extended again “given the disastrous human rights and military situation in Syria.”
It called for “an indefinite extension” to the ban.
Germany’s foreign ministry lists no region of Syria as safe on its website.
With reporting from AFP