Angela Merkel’s party calls for tighter laws after Cologne assaults

Published: Saturday 9th January 2016 by The News Editor

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German chancellor Angela Merkel’s party is calling for stricter laws regulating asylum seekers after a string of New Year’s Eve sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne blamed largely on foreigners.

Reports of the attacks on women by groups of men, described by police as predominantly Arab or North African, have fuelled calls for tighter controls in Germany, which took in nearly 1.1 million migrants last year.

The dpa news agency said leaders of Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats meeting in Mainz agreed on a proposal to strengthen the ability of police to conduct checks of identity papers, and also to exclude foreigners from being granted asylum if they had had been convicted of crimes and sentenced to terms even as light as probation.

The proposal would need parliamentary approval.

Ms Merkel said the proposal would help Germany deport “serial offenders” convicted of lesser crimes.

“This is in the interests of the citizens of Germany, but also in the interests of the great majority of the refugees who are here,” she told party members.

“If people act outside the law… naturally there must be consequences.”

Of 31 suspects temporarily detained for questioning following the New Year’s Eve attacks, there were 18 asylum seekers but also two Germans and an American among others, and none were accused of specifically committing sexual assaults and the investigation is continuing.

Cologne’s police chief was dismissed on Friday amid mounting criticism of his force’s handling of the incidents, and being slow to release information.

Ms Merkel said local authorities must not be perceived to be withholding information and urged that the case be “fully clarified”.

“Everything has to be put on the table,” she said.

“Serial offenders who consistently, for example, return to theft or time and again insult women must count on the force of the law.”

She has steadfastly refused to agree a cap on newcomers, but the proposal did note that “a continuation of the current influx would overwhelm the state and society even in a country like Germany in the long run”, the dpa news agency said.

Published: Saturday 9th January 2016 by The News Editor

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