Germany Forcibly Expels Suicidal Romani Woman to Serbia and Montenegro

13 November 2006

Ignoring a direct appeal to stay expulsion as well as compelling evidence concerning her extreme psychological state, Berlin authorities forcibly expelled a Muslim Romani woman and her four children to Serbia on 16 August 2006. The ERRC received information on 14 August from the Berlinbased non-governmental organization Initiative Against Expulsion Detention (Initiative gegen Abschiebehaft) concerning the planned forced expulsion from Germany of Ms K.T. and her five children, aged 7-16 years. The family are Muslim Romani, a particularly threatened group in predominantly Christian Serbia. Ms K.T.'s husband, the father of her five children, committed suicide by hanging in 2002 out of fear of expulsion from Germany. Ms. K.T. has raised her children alone since then.

Ms K.T. reportedly suffered from severe psychological problems for which she underwent psychological treatment for years in Berlin. According to her psychologist, she is extremely unstable. In situations of stress, Ms K.T. develops attacks of hyperventilation and experiences convulsions of her hands, arms, feet and legs. Moreover, Ms K.T. reported that she has a mental image her dead husband hanging in front of her eyes and that she thinks constantly of how to commit suicide herself. In addition, Ms K.T.'s 16-year-old daughter L.T. has told her mother's therapist that she herself thought continuously of her dead father, and that her main fear was that her mother would also commit suicide. Ms K.T. has been hospitalised in Berlin on several occasions due to her psychological illness, most recently from 22 to 28 June 2006.

The Berlin court reviewing Ms K.T.'s appeals to be allowed to remain in Germany with her children refused to recognize her psychological illness, despite the testimony of medical professionals to the effect that her condition is very serious. On 15 August, the ERRC faxed a letter to Berlin Interior Minister Dr Ehrhart Körting, urging Senator Körting to: (1) Intervene to stop the forced expulsion of Ms. K.T. and her children from Germany; and (2) Ensure that, without delay, they are provided with a residence permit securing durable and long-term stay in Germany, such that she may seek and receive treatment for her condition without the further arbitrary application of undue pressure. The following day, German authorities forcibly expelled Ms K.T. and her children to Belgrade.

According to information from the Readmissions Office of the Service for Human and Minority Rights, service staff members met Ms K.T. and her family at the airport and provided advice and support. The family was reportedly together in Sremska Mitrovica, where accommodation was being sought for them. The Service was maintaining contact with both the family and the local Centre for Social Work as of 21 August. In a letter dated 18 September 2006, the Berlin Interior Ministry responded to the ERRC's letter, asserting that the expulsion had been fully legal.

(ERRC, Initiative Against Expulsion Detention)

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