Germany institutes IDs for refugees in bid to tighten control

Refugees in Germany are to receive federal identity cards linked to a centralized data system under a new law adopted by the parliament in Berlin, aimed at cutting chaos in the management of asylum seekers arriving by the thousands daily.

Instead of only receiving German ID after their applications have been decided, new arrivals will be immediately photographed and fingerprinted.

The move aims to stop refugees moving where they please or using multiple identities and will help police vet them. Last year 1.1 million arrived in Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel is under heavy pressure to crimp the current inflow of 3,000 daily.

Opposition parties abstained in the Thursday evening vote on the bill, charging that the system breached Germany's hallowed principles of privacy by storing too much personal data and failing to set up adequate limits on who could access the data.

The new law would see refugees receiving one photo ID document containing all information relevant to their asylum request - fingerprints, country of origin, contact details and information about health and qualifications.

The "Ankunftsnachweis" (arrival confirmation) is printed on thick paper, folded in three.

The ID will be distributed from February and the new system fully implemented across the country by the summer, officials said in December when the bill was presented.

All government agencies including the Federal Criminal Office BKA would have access to the data.

The move highlights the chaotic process of registering new arrivals, which is currently handled by five different government agencies.

Officials have warned of loopholes in the current decentralized system that have allowed refugees to fake their identities.

Heavy criticism of Merkel's light-touch migration policies has been compounded by revelations last week that asylum seekers mostly of North African origin were involved in a series of sexual assaults that took place in Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve.

Last update: Fri, 15/01/2016 - 12:54

More from Europe

Poll: 'no' vote at 54 per cent in Italian constitutional referendum

Support for a 'no' vote on Italy's upcoming constitutional referendum has taken a 54-46 per cent lead, according to...

German minister hopeful shunned after "liking" right-wing party

A German prosecutor tapped for a cabinet position in an east German state is out of the running after "liking" the...

EU parliament chief raises hopes of salvaging Canada trade deal

An embattled trade EU-Canada trade deal should be signed as planned next week, European Parliament President Martin...

Police suspect tear gas in London City airport "chemical incident"

Police said they suspected CS gas could have caused a "chemical incident" that led to a three-hour evacuation of ...

EU summit fails to break Belgian impasse over Canada trade deal

EU leaders ended two days of talks Friday with a failure to break a regional blockade to a landmark deal the bloc is...