The Personal Interview for Asylum Seekers in Germany
The personal interview
The information on this article is collected from BAMF website.
The personal interview is the applicant’s most important appointment within his/her asylum procedure. Organisations providing aid or charitable associations therefore offer advice when it comes to preparing for the interview. The Federal Office has also been implementing group information and individual counselling sessions on the
asylum procedure at the AnkER facilities since August 2018 (see p. 37). It is the “decision-makers” at the Federal Office who are responsible for holding the interviews. They invite applicants to attend this appointment, where an interpreter will also be on hand. Applicants absolutely must attend this appointment, or they must state in good time why they are unable to attend. If they do not do so, their asylum application can be turned down or the proceedings discontinued.
The interviews are not public, but they may be attended by an attorney or by a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and by a guardian in the case of unaccompanied minors. It is fundamentally possible for another person enjoying the applicant’s trust to attend as an advisor. This individual must be able to identify himself or herself, and may not personally be in the asylum procedure.
The objective of the interviews is to learn of the individual reasons for flight, to obtain more information and to resolve any contradictions. To this end, the decision-makers are familiar with the circumstances prevailing in the applicants’
countries of origin. Applicants are afforded sufficient time during the interview to present their respective reasons for taking flight. They describe their biographies and situations, tell of their travel route and of the persecution which they have personally suffered. They also assess what would await them were they to return to their country of origin. They are obliged to state the truth at all times and to provide any evidence which they have been able to obtain. These may be photographs, documents from the police or other authorities, and possibly also medical reports. The descriptions are interpreted and minutes are taken, and are then translated back for the applicants after the interview. This enables them to add to what they have said, or to make corrections. They are then presented with the minutes for them to approve them by signing them.
Participation by the UNHCR
In order to improve identity determination, the Federal Office has introduced
assistance systems as part of the “Integrated identity management: plausibility,
data quality, and security aspects (IDM-S)” programme. These systems provide
supporting information when it comes to carrying out factual investigations. This
provides decision-makers with additional indications that can make it easier for
them to determine the facts of the case.
• Image biometrics – Analysing biometric images enables automatic face recog
nition based on unique individual biometric features. Image biometrics also
Serve as a further means of identification in addition to fingerprint matching.
• Name transliteration and analysis – Name transliteration involves a standardised conversion (transliteration) from Arabic to Latin script.
• Speech biometrics – A voice recording is used to biometrically recognize the (major) dialect spoken by the applicant. This information allows conclusions to be drawn as to the country of origin, and can provide valuable information for use in the interview.
• Evaluating mobile data media – Analysing mobile data media helps to determine identity and origin on the basis of metadata stored on the mobile phone These assistance systems, which are based on modern data analysis methods, enable the information on asylum-seekers collected during the asylum procedure to be immediately checked for plausibility. This leads to better data quality.
Should any doubts remain as to applicants’ identity, the Federal Office carries out an examination using language and text analyses with the involvement of language experts. Such cases can be reported to the Federal Office’s own Security division where appropriate. The division works closely with the Joint Extremism and Counter-Terrorism Centre (GETZ) and with the Joint CounterTerrorism Centre (GTAZ). What is more, it carries out an automatic data comparison with the security authorities within the bounds imposed by privacy laws.
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