Place of detention - Asylum Information Database | European Council on Refugees and Exiles (2024)

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Germany

Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 10/07/24

Author

Teresa Fachinger, Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik and Marlene Stiller

Pre-removal detention centres

Detention pending removal is usually carried out in specialised detention facilities. Since July 2014, when the CJEU ruled that detention for the purpose of removal of illegally staying third-country nationals has to be carried out in specialised detention facilities in all Federal States of Germany,[1] most Federal States which did not have specialised facilities before announced that the necessary institutions would be established; deportees were sent to facilities in other Federal States in the meantime. As of January 2023, not all Federal States have dedicated detention centres, since some Federal States use facilities jointly (see below).

Between August 2019 and June 2022, due to a temporary change in the law, detention pending removal could also be carried out in regular prisons. Since 1 July 2022 the wording of the provision has changed back to: ‘As a rule, detention pending removal is to be carried out in specialised detention facilities.’[2]

The provision was challenged before the CJEU, as critics and serious doubts were raised as to whether Germany was facing such an emergency situation when the provision entered into force in 2019.[3] When issuing its decision on 10 March 2022,[4] the Court did not adjudicate on the existence of an emergency situation, but ruled that national courts would have to examine the question when asked to issue a detention order. However, the CJEU argued that an emergency situation cannot be based solely on a high number of persons who are obliged to leave, and that a failure on the side of the state to provide for sufficient specialised detention facilities cannot justify an emergency situation. Available statistics suggest that Federal States hardly used regular prisons for detention pending removal. Only 10 cases (3 in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and 7 in Saxony Anhalt) had been recorded by the Federal States as of March 2021,[5] while the majority of Federal States reported in August 2023 to not have used regular prisons for detention[6] (for more information see the 2022 Update to this report).[7]

Plans for a combined facility, which nevertheless takes into account the separation of prisoners and pre-removal detainees, were announced in Bavaria during the summer of 2018. According to media reports, both detention facilities are to be built on the same site in the town of Passau. However, the facility for detention pending removal will be separated from the other buildings by a wall and it will be separately accessible from the outside.[8] The facility was still under construction as of January 2024; the opening is planned for 2027.[9] To this day, several pre-removal detention centres are former prisons turned into specialised facilities e.g. Büren in North Rhine-Westphalia, Eichstätt and Erding in Bavaria and Darmstadt-Eberstadt in Hesse.

In January 2022, a new detention centre was opened at Munich airport (Bavaria) which replaced the more provisional detention facility ‘Hangar 3’.[10] In 2021, two new detention facilities had opened: one in Glückstadt, Schleswig-Holstein, which is used by the Federal States Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and has the capacity to accommodate up to 60 people,[11] and one in Hof, Bavaria. The detention centre in Hof can accommodate a total of 150 people, making it the second largest detention centre in Germany. The Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt announced in October 2022 that it was planning to open a detention facility close to an existing prison in Volkstedt.[12]

As of September 2023, facilities for detention and custody pending removal existed in eleven Federal States. The reported capacities are based on an information request to the Federal Government published in September 2023. The detention facility in Erding (Bavaria) is no longer used for detention pending removal since 1 July 2023.[13]

Pre-removal detention facilities in Germany: 2023
Federal StateLocationMaximum capacity
Baden-WürttembergPforzheim51
BavariaEichstätt

Munich Airport

Hof

9020

150

BerlinBerlin (only for ‘persons posing a risk’)10
BrandenburgBER Airport (custody pending removal)20
BremenBremen13
HesseDarmstadt-Eberstadt80
Lower SaxonyHannover (Langenhagen)48
North Rhine-WestphaliaBüren175
Rhineland-PalatinateIngelheim am Rhein40
SaxonyDresden58
Schleswig-HolsteinGlückstadt27
Total14782

Source: Federal Government, Reply to parliamentary question by the AfD, 20/8280, 8 September 2023, available in German at https://bit.ly/47kkxVO, 22; Information collected by the Mediendienst Integration from the Governments of the Federal States in August 2023.

Other types of detention facilities

The Federal State of Berlin has established a specialised facility for ‘persons posing a risk’ only (‘Gefährder’, i.e., terrorist suspects) with a capacity of 10 places.[14]

Persons in custody pending removal under Section 62b of the Residence Act (Ausreisegewahrsam) are usually detained in general detention facilities. However, not all Federal States differentiate between pre-removal detention and custody in available statistics.[15] The Federal States of Berlin and Brandenburg run a facility for custody with 20 places at the Berlin Brandenburg Airport, according to press reports (BER, see above).[16] As of December 2022, planning for the new ‘arrival and departure centre’ at the Berlin airport includes 48 places for custody pending departure (see Airport detention facilities). A similar facility with 25 places of custody pending departure was planned at the airport of Düsseldorf (North Rhine Westphalia), but as of January 2024 it appears that the new State government – in power since June 2022 and including the Greens, who had positioned themselves against the facility during the election campaign – had abandoned the planning process.[17] The custody facility at Hamburg airport was closed on 31 December 2022.[18]

Airport detention facilities

As mentioned in Grounds for detention, asylum seekers subject to the airport procedure are de facto detained in facilities near the airport, as their stay is not legally considered to be deprivation of liberty. Since such facilities are managed by the different Federal States, they can differ in typology and even in name.[19]

For example, the airport detention facility at Frankfurt Airport, located in the the ‘Cargo City Süd’, a large complex of buildings in a restricted area near the airport, is entitled ‘initial reception centre’ (Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung). The centre has a maximum capacity of 105 places. On the other hand, the facility at Munich Airport is located in the ‘visitors’ park’ (Besucherpark) of the airport and its denomination is ‘combined transit and detention facility’ (Kombinierte Transit- und Abschiebungshafteinrichtung).[20] The new facility opened in January 2022 and hosts both pre-removal detention (22 places) and the ‘transit centre’ for persons subject to the airport procedure (29 places).[21] The new airport of Berlin and Brandenburg (BER) currently hosts a ‘reception centre’ (Aufnahmeeinrichtung) that includes a facility to host asylum seekers during the airport procedure, a facility for custody pending departure, as well as a ‘transit facility’ for persons subject to a refusal of entry[22]The opening of a new ‘arrival and departure centre’ is foreseen for 2026. The centre is to include facilities to carry out the airport procedure (60 places are planned as of December 2022) but also facilities and personnel from other authorities which are involved in the return procedure such as the Federal Police, local courts, the public prosecutor’s office and the municipal authority.[23] The plans also include facilities for custody pending removal. Original plans foresaw a total of 64 such places, but this was reduced to 48 after controversies within the Brandenburg government, with the Greens criticising that the facility was oversized compared to actual needs.[24]

[1] CJEU, Joined Cases C-473/13 and C-514/13 Bero v Regierungspraesidium Kassel & Bouzalmane v Kreisverwaltung Kleve, Judgment of 17 July 2014, available at: https://bit.ly/3TyTz9M.

[2] Article 6 of the ‘Second Act for an improved enforcement of the obligation to leave the country’.

[3] Stefan Keßler, Freiheitsentzug ad libitum? Die Auswirkungen des „Hau-Ab-Gesetzes II’ auf die Abschiebungshaft, in: Das Migrationspaket, Beilage zum Asylmagazin 8-9/2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3boa7HM, 44-54 (53).

[4] CJEU, Case C‑519/20, 10 March 2022, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3NtZt6u.

[5] Federal Government, Reply to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/31669, 4 August 2021, 6,8, 20-21.

[6] Information collected by the Mediendienst Integration from the Governments of the Federal States in August 2023.

[7] AIDA, Country Report Germany – Update on the year 2022, April 2023, available at https://bit.ly/3S8iHmD, 163-164.

[8] Passauer Neue Presse, ‚JVA Passau wird mit Neubau eigenständig‘, 3 August 2018, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3cG3bH6.

[9] PNP.de, Neue JVA wird frühestens im Jahr 2027 fertig, 14 Aril 2021, available in German at https://bit.ly/48GOtfJ.

[10] Süddeutsche Zeitung, ‘Hafteinrichtung am Airport: ‘Überteuertes Symbol bayerischer Abschreckung’’, 12 January 2022, available in German at: https://bit.ly/33XJcEG.

[11] NDR, ‘Abschiebehaft in Glückstadt fertig, Insassen sollen bald kommen’, 5 August 2021, available in German at: https://bit.ly/33L1toG.

[12] Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, Land plant Abschiebegefängnis in Volkstedt, 18 October 2022, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3TPjKsF.

[13] Information collected by the Mediendienst Integration from the Governments of the Federal States in August 2023.

[14] Senate Administration for Justice, Consumer Portection and Anti-Discrimination of Berlin, Reply to parliamentary question by Marcel Luthe, 26 April 2021, available in German at: https://bit.ly/48yXIig, 6.

[15] Federal Government, Reply to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/31669, 4 August 2021, available in German at: https://bit.ly/4awfTGM.

[16] Rbb.de, BER-Ausreisegewahrsam bekommt ein Viertel weniger Plätze, 22 December 2022, available in German at: http://bit.ly/3HrlJwJ.

[17] Nd-aktuell.de, Abschiebungen: Abschiebeknast am Flughafen Düsseldorf ist vom Tisch, 17 December 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3wkGxmD.

[18] Senate of Hamburg, Reply to parliamentary question by Dr. Carola Ensslen, 22/10712, 27 January 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/490uvwT, 6.

[19] ECRE, Airport procedures in Germany Gaps in quality and compliance with guarantees, April 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2QgOmAH.

[20] Bayerisches Landesamt für Asyl und Rückführungen, Kombinierte Transit- und Abschiebungshafteinrichtung, available in German at: http://bit.ly/3wrzdCf.

[21] Bayerisches Landesamt für Asyl und Rückführungen, Kombinierte Transit- und Abschiebungshafteinrichtung, available in German at: http://bit.ly/3wrzdCf.

[22] Flüchtlingsrat Brandenburg, Abschiebehaft am Flughafen BER, 22 May 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3IuIik5.

[23] Der Tagesspiegel, Planung für Behördenzentrum am BER: Brandenburgs Innenminister streicht Plätze im Ausreisegewahrsam zusammen, 22 December 2022, available in German at: http://bit.ly/3WwMwMl; Information provided by the BAMF, 10 March 2022.

[24] Der Tagesspiegel, Planung für Behördenzentrum am BER: Brandenburgs Innenminister streicht Plätze im Ausreisegewahrsam zusammen, 22 December 2022, available in German at: http://bit.ly/3WwMwMl.

Germany

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
    • General
      • Flow chart
      • Types of procedures
      • List of authorities intervening in each stage of the procedure
      • Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority
      • Short overview of the asylum procedure
    • Access to the procedure and registration
      • Access to the territory and push backs
      • Registration of the asylum application
    • Procedures
      • Regular procedure
      • Dublin
      • Admissibility procedure
      • Border procedure (border and transit zones)
      • Accelerated procedure
    • Guarantees for vulnerable groups
      • Identification
      • Special procedural guarantees
      • Use of medical reports
      • Legal representation of unaccompanied children
    • Subsequent applications
    • The safe country concepts
      • Safe country of origin
      • Safe third country
      • First country of asylum
    • Information for asylum seekers and access to NGOs and UNHCR
      • Provision of information on the procedure
      • Access to NGOs and UNHCR
    • Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure
  • Reception Conditions
    • Short overview of the reception system
    • Access and forms of reception conditions
      • Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions
      • Forms and levels of material reception conditions
      • Reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions
      • Freedom of movement
    • Housing
      • Types of accommodation
      • Conditions in reception facilities
    • Employment and education
      • Access to the labour market
      • Access to education
    • Health care
    • Special reception needs of vulnerable groups
    • Information for asylum seekers and access to reception centres
      • Provision of information on reception
      • Access to reception centres by third parties
    • Differential treatment of specific nationalities in reception
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
    • General
    • Legal framework of detention
      • Grounds for detention
      • Alternatives to detention
      • Detention of vulnerable applicants
      • Duration of detention
    • Detention conditions
      • Place of detention
      • Conditions in detention facilities
      • Access to detention facilities
    • Procedural safeguards
      • Judicial review of the detention order
      • Legal assistance for review of detention
    • Differential treatment of specific nationalities in detention
  • Content of International Protection
    • Status and residence
      • Residence permit
      • Civil registration
      • Long-term residence
      • Naturalisation
      • Cessation and review of protection status
      • Withdrawal of protection status
    • Family reunification
      • Criteria and conditions
      • Status and rights of family members
    • Movement and mobility
      • Freedom of movement
      • Travel documents
    • Housing
    • Employment and education
      • Access to the labour market
      • Access to education
    • Social welfare
    • Health care
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation
  • Place of detention - Asylum Information Database | European Council on Refugees and Exiles (2024)
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