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

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