Refugee policy
People smugglers

If borders are sealed off, refugees can only reach their destination with the help of smugglers. If Pakistan or Lebanon were to close their borders, it would have disastrous consequences. A commentary by SEBASTIAN BLATZHEIM

Translated by Gunnar Ahrens and Christine Crawford.

After crossing a country's borders, refugees are asked to sign a document agreeing to pay smugglers a large amount of money. Due to the large amount of money demanded they agree to pay in instalments. The refugees do not actually pay the money and so then, the smugglers file a lawsuit against them.

What is inconceivable today, was once straightforward and acceptable to the German Federal Court back in 1977: "A contract by which one party agrees to pay the other party a fee (an escape agent contract) for the so-called discharge [...] does not conflict with a legal ban or infringe on common decency."1

People smugglers today are often equated to traffickers. Headlines focussing on the overcrowded boats expose the reprehensible attitude of smugglers. Past and present political circumstances are certainly not comparable. However, how is it possible that at one time those acting as escape agents were actually honoured with the Order of Merit, yet today they are sent to prison? Are their actions really so different?

The EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini is right to view the misery in the Mediterranean "[...] not only as a humanitarian emergency, but also as a security policy crisis [...]"2. Although, she isn't referring to the security of the refugees, she is referring to the state of the borders. The decisions that she has made, based on these findings are also quite grotesque. Together with EU leaders, she is planning to destroy vital tug boats off the Libyan coast.

How classification of the "tug-boats" is to be handled, is currently undecided and unknown. The EU currently requires a UN mandate for the operation within Libyan territorial waters. Mogherini gave her assurance, that relevant negotiations with Libya were "constructive" and that nothing would happen without Libya's agreement.3 The only question is, why is there a need for a UN mandate? and who exactly did the EU carry out negotiations with in that "failed state"?

Why not allow refugees a safe ferry crossing, after which they can then submit their asylum applications? Those who care about border security, must offer an explanation as to why they can guarantee the presence of guards on the mainland, but not on coastal areas sharing the same border. Finally, boats can only dock in ports, which can be controlled much easier than land borders.

More than 50 million people worldwide are refugees.4 This will not change by removing their means of escape. Many people in Germany and other states are very much aware of this.5 Political leaders are not (yet) ready to disclose this fact to the rest of the world. This could result in some countries beginning to allow refugees in.

Ten years ago, Ilka Schröder, a former member of the EU Parliament's Green Party, proposed financial support for smugglers. This was the only way to ensure EU asylum rights.6 Internal party reaction to this proposal resulted in her leaving the party.7

How is this possible?

[1] BGHZ 69, 295, URL:, 21.05.2015.
[2] Cf. e.g. URL:, 21.05.2015.
[3] URL:, 21.05.2015.
[4] URL:, 21.05.2015.
[5] URL:,1472798,30557138.html, 21.05.2015.
[6] URL:, 21.05.2015.
[7] URL:, 21.05.2015.


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Sigismund Ruestig   11:04 Uhr 06.07.2015

Die derzeitige Ausländer- bzw. Asylpolitik ist insbesondere in Deutschland noch geprägt von parteiideologisch aufgeladenen Positionen ("Deutschland ist kein Einwanderungsland", "Wer betrügt, der fliegt", "Mia san mia" etc.) der - auch noch jüngsten - Vergangenheit. Man sollte sich daher nicht wundern, wenn neben der erfreulichen Entwicklung von Befürwortern und Helferkreisen für Flüchtlinge und Einwanderer aber auch Ausländerfeinde weiterhin, und wie die Kriminalitätsstatistiken belegen, verstärkt ihr Unwesen treiben.
Selbst die Wirtschaftsverbände sprechen sich mittlerweile - aufgrund des infolge der demographischen Entwicklung absehbaren Mangels auf dem Arbeitsmarkt - für eine aktive Einwanderungspolitik aus.
Es wird daher Zeit, vom Schutz der Grenzen auf den Schutz der Menschen umzuschalten und auch Ausländern im biblischen Sinne als unseren Brüdern und Schwestern zu
begegnen. Nicht zuletzt könnten Sie Deine Schwiegersöhne/Töchter, Schwäger/innen, Nichten/Neffen, Cousins/Cousinen etc. sein, wie auch Sigismund Rüstig in seinem Song "Ich bin, ich hab, mia san mia" thematisiert:
Viel Spaß beim Anhören!

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