Flash News


Court procedures for asylum in Germany take a long time. What should be done?

Court procedures for asylum in Germany take a long time. What should be done?

Judge Jennifer Panzer is negotiating the future of a man from Tajikistan at the administrative court in Cologne. Court proceedings for asylum applications in Germany should actually take only three to six months. So the German federal government and the federal states decided at the beginning of November 2023.

At the Administrative Court in Cologne, the reality looks different. The average duration of the procedure here is currently: 27.7 months. "We would do our best to meet the three months if we had the necessary judges available," says Panzer.

Politicians want to speed up the process

Overloaded judges, too many cases, too long processing times. This is also the reason that on January 1, 2023, the law on the acceleration of judicial processes for the granting of asylum entered into force at the federal level, that is, almost a year and a half ago.

The goal was confirmed in early November 2023 with a decision by the federal and state governments to complete asylum court proceedings within three to six months in the future. And the average procedure time has decreased since then. This is not only because old cases from 2015 to 2017 were finally processed in many courts.

The reality in many courts is far from clear time limits set by policy. The differences between the Länder are significant: while administrative courts in Hesse still take an average of 29 months to reach a first-instance decision, Rhineland-Palatinate is the only Länder showing that the policy guidelines can actually be implemented.

Differences in lande

There are several reasons for this. This land has centralized all judicial proceedings for asylum in the Administrative Court in Trier - which is the only place where such processes take place. Judge Andreas Hermann thinks this is good: "In this way, of course, the countries of origin can be assigned to special panels and as a judge you get a high level of specialization".

For example, he himself has a year and a half specialization at the Administrative Court in Trier for countries of origin such as Iraq, Russia, Georgia and recently El Salvador.

"We deal with it every day," Hermann says. It saves a lot of time if it does not have to deal with other cases.

Specialization, framework, digitization

Another reason for the speed of asylum proceedings in Trier is, he says, the high degree of digitization in the administrative court. "We have had so-called electronic judicial documents in court for a year now, because paper is no longer needed and everything can be done electronically," says Hermann.

This saves a lot of time, he says. This is where a good electronic exchange with other bodies comes in. The new digitization saves a lot of time. There is also a good staff: there are currently 23 judges in active service. If necessary, additional employees would be hired from time to time to get through the difficult phases with quality.

Therefore, the oldest case is from 2023 at the Administrative Court in Trier, says Hermann. At peak periods, immediately after so many asylum applications were submitted in 2014 and 2015, 38 judges processed asylum cases. That's why there are no old subjects here, he says.

Routes and procedures in other countries

Other countries also emphasize that they have already taken certain measures. For example, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) also relies on digitalization and announced a few weeks ago that it wants to consolidate at least processes from countries of origin, which rarely appear, in some courts.

NRW Justice Minister Benjamin Limbach is convinced: "This will ensure that these courts can specialize in a certain region of the world," said the environmentalist politician. For the opposition in NRW, this is not entirely true: "This does not affect the largest asylum seeker countries at all. These are countries from which very few asylum seekers come to Germany and then to NRW, and for this there must be a responsibility special," says FDP politician Werner Pfeil, chairman of the Committee for Legal Affairs in the NRW Parliament.

Is there a shortage of staff?

In addition: 123 positions for judges and public prosecutors are currently vacant in NRW. However, the Minister of Justice rejects calls from the opposition and the judiciary to provide additional personnel. According to the minister, there are enough staff.

"I'm not one of those who are the first to call for the opening of new jobs, but I say: We have to see if we can speed up the process with organizational measures and other measures," said Limbach. "I think it is a reasonable measure in this tight budget situation."

At the Administrative Court in Cologne, the burden is currently being reduced, says Judge Panzer. But this is also about solving the backlog from 2015 to 2017. But the number of asylum applications is increasing again from 2021, which is an additional burden for Panzer and her colleagues. DW

Latest news