Date: 21 February 2016

The German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has suggested that asylum-seekers ability to choose their place of residence might soon be restricted even after the successful conclusion of their legal proceedings. The initiative, widely supported among both parties of the ruling grand coalition, is aimed at preventing the ‘ghettoization’ of certain groups and an overburdening of large German cities, where most refugees are headed as soon as they have obtained the right to stay in the country. Opposition politicians of The Left party criticised the plan as a breach of European and of human rights law, which grant full freedom of movement. The imposition of prolonged residential obligations on refugees is not without precedent in Germany, however: in the 1990s and 2000s, the so-called ‘Spätaussiedler’ – ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe coming to the country after the fall of the iron curtain – were compelled to reside at specified locations for a certain amount of time.

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