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Police force migrant out of German church

Police force migrant out of German church
German police have forcefully removed a man seeking church asylum from a monastery. Church leaders are in shock and said the man's case was one of exceptional hardship.

Church leaders in the German city of Münster were shocked after police entered a monastery on Tuesday to forcefully remove a migrant seeking church asylum.

Police said there was an altercation when they tried to remove the 31-year-old Ghanaian, who bit a police officer when being handcuffed.

The police and other local officials said they were merely acting on orders of the Federal Ministry of Migration and Refugees (BAMF) to deport the man to Hungary.

The Ghanaian first registered for asylum in the European Union in Hungary. Under European Union rules, the member state where an asylum seeker is first registered is responsible for processing the application.

Church asylum is a tradition in Germany whereby refugees or migrants without legal residence status can be temporarily hosted by parishes. The goal is to prevent someone in hardship or in potential danger from facing the threat of immediate deportation so that their case can be reviewed again.

In response to criticism, BAMF said that church asylum was only valid in special hardship cases. In the case of the Ghanaian, it said facing deportation to another EU member state did not constitute a justifiable case of hardship.

The bishop of Münster, Felix Genn, said there had been an understanding between the church and the state on church asylum, and that they were just about to provide authorities a file justifying the man's hardship.

"It shocks and concerns me that during an ongoing process the man was taken by police without any notice," he said.

The bishop added that there was no reason for the police to take the man into custody.

The Church Asylum Network also protested, saying that with the anti-immigrant environment in Hungary, it was doubtful the man would receive a fair review of his asylum application. The group also said the man had a heart condition and required special medicines.

An administrative court in Münster issued a temporary injunction on the man's deportation for 48 hours.

cw/sms (epd, KNA)

www.dw.com/…/a-19496599