Detention of vulnerable applicants



Informationsverbund Asyl und Migration

In terms of the German law, minors and members of other vulnerable groups must not be detained while they have the status of asylum applicants. However, asylum seekers may lose this status as a result of a Dublin procedure and hence be detained for the purpose of transfer to another Dublin Member State (see section on Grounds for Detention).

Section 62(1) of the Residence Act contains the following provision regarding the detention of children and families:

“Minors and families with minors may be taken into detention awaiting deportation only in exceptional cases and only for as long as it is adequate considering the well-being of the child.”

Before 2011, several hundred cases of detention of minors were recorded, but the numbers have been much lower since then.1 The majority of the cases at the time were considered to be “Dublin cases”. No recent cases of detention of minors have been reported. In 2016, 872 minors were transferred to other Member States of the Dublin Regulation (which usually involves that they were taken into custody for a few hours on the day the transfer took place).2 As far as deportations are concerned, the official statistics only record unaccompanied minors. No deportations of unaccompanied minors took place in 2016.3

A few Federal States have regulations in place for the detention of other vulnerable groups (such as elderly persons, persons with disabilities, nursing mothers, single parents), but most do not have any special provisions for these groups.4


  • 1. Diakonie in Hessen und Nassau, Pro Asyl (eds.), Schutzlos hinter Gittern. Abschiebungshaft in Deutschland (Without protection behind bars. Detention pending deportation in Germany). Authors: Marei Pelzer and Uli Sextro, June 2013.
  • 2. Federal Government, Reply to parliamentary question by The Left, no. 18/11112 of 9 February 2017, 13.
  • 3. Ibid, 29.
  • 4. Janne Grote. The use of detention and alternatives to detention in Germany. Study by the German National Contact Point for the European Migration Network (EMN). Working paper 59, July 2014, 21-23 and Annex, 46.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti