BERLIN (AA) – German authorities are not properly investigating attacks against migrants and refugees and often ignore racist motives behind these attacks, Amnesty International said Thursday.
The human rights group warned about the sharp increase in racist violence in Germany in recent years and also criticized authorities’ ineffective response, in an 80-page report released at a press conference in Berlin.
Amnesty International researcher Marco Perolini said German authorities are failing to adequately address the rise in far-right violence, and do not provide enhanced protection for migrants and asylum-seekers despite growing threats.
“In Germany there has been a sharp rise in hate crimes between 2013 and the end of 2015. We are talking about a 16-fold increase in crimes against asylum-shelters, and in the same period, we are talking about a rise of 87 percent in racist crimes against minorities,” he said.
According to the report, the number of attacks against refugee shelters in Germany rose from 63 in 2013 to 1,031 in 2015, the highest figure in the country’s modern history.
- Institutional racism in Germany
Perolini criticized German authorities’ reluctance to take necessary measures to investigate, prosecute, and prevent the growing number of racist crimes.
“The failures in the area of the investigation could be due to institutional racism. And we highlight several elements in our report that could point to institutional racism, especially within the police but also to some extent within judicial authorities in Germany,” he stressed.
Perolini said stereotypes about minorities and refugees are still widespread among German officials, leading to failures to properly address racist crimes as well as ignoring the possible racist motives of many crimes where migrants or refugees are victims.
He described the failure of German authorities to resolve the far-right murders of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) as a major example of Germany’s institutional racism problem, and argued that the problem persists today.
“After 2011, although there have been some reforms that German authorities have adopted in the area of hate crimes, we still have documented in this report failures to investigate and prosecute these crimes,” he said, adding that this points to the problem of institutional racism.
- NSU murders
The neo-Nazi group NSU killed at least eight Turkish immigrants, a Greek worker, and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007, all apparently without arousing the suspicions of the German police or its intelligence services.
The German public first learned of the group’s existence in 2011, when two of its members reportedly died in a murder-suicide following an unsuccessful bank robbery.
Until 2011, Germany’s police and intelligence services ruled out any racial motive for the murders and instead treated immigrant families as suspects in the case and even harassed them for alleged connections with mafia groups and drug traffickers.
- Many attacks go uncounted
Amnesty International’s report also criticized German authorities for not registering many far-right hate crimes in official statistics under the category of racist crimes.
“There are many discrepancies between official data and data provided by the NGOs,” Perolini said.
“This means that there are still many racist hate crimes that are treated, that are classified and investigated as common crimes by police,” he added.
“This is of course in violation of the European standards and also international human rights standards on discrimination,” he stressed.
Germany has witnessed growing anti-refugee sentiments in recent years, triggered by the propaganda of far-right and populist parties, which exploited the refugee crisis and fears of religious extremist and terrorist groups.
Around one million refugees arrived in Germany last year, fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, or other parts of the world.