Asylum-seekers ‘abused’ in German refugee centres

September 29, 2014 4:47 pm
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Private security agents are seen at a refugee centre in Burbach, Germany where police are investigating abuse claims, on September 29, 2014/AFP
Private security agents are seen at a refugee centre in Burbach, Germany where police are investigating abuse claims, on September 29, 2014/AFP
BERLIN, Germany, Sep 29 – German police Monday started an investigation into six private security guards at a refugee centre accused of assaulting and humiliating asylum seekers in ways that drew comparisons to abuse against Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Police also questioned hundreds of refugees after disturbing photo and video footage emerged at the weekend, including an image showing a security guard pinning a handcuffed Algerian man to the floor with his boot on the man’s neck.

Police said they launched their investigation after a journalist passed on to them cellphone video footage that showed security guards forcing an elderly man to lie on a mattress covered in vomit while threatening to beat him.

North Rhine-Westphalia state Interior Minister Ralf Jaeger pledged to pursue “with utmost determination” the case in the refugee centre in Burbach, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Cologne, vowing to ensure “that this never happens again”.

“These are images of the kind we’ve seen from Guantanamo Bay,” said Frank Richter, police chief of the nearby city of Hagen, referring to the controversial US military detention facility in Cuba.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said that if investigations confirm that “refugees were abused and humiliated, then these would be repulsive acts”.

“We are a humane country. In Germany, the dignity of man is respected… and that must be true in asylum centres and refugee camps,” said Steffen Seibert.

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