The number of women claiming to have been victims of a spate of sexual assaults and muggings in Cologne on New Year’s Eve rose to 516 on Sunday, amid new evidence that police were completely overwhelmed by the violence, largely blamed on foreigners.
The figures were a rise of more than a third from the 379 cases that had been reported by Saturday. Some 40 per cent of the complaints included sexual assault and there were two reports of rape. Police in Hamburg said they have lodged 133 similar charges.
Officers deployed outside Cologne’s main railway station where the attacks occurred arrested only four suspects on the night and merely took the names of 71 other possible offenders, according to a police report published by Germany’s Die Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
On Sunday afternoon groups of angry women braved the cold and stood on the steps of Cologne’s cathedral, opposite the railway station, to continue the protest against what they said was “utter incompetence” by the police.
“We want those responsible for the sex attacks to be brought to justice,” said Laura Stöckmann, a 20-year-old Cologne textile design student who witnessed the attacks. “But so far the police seem to being doing nothing,” she said.
They were joined by a group of Syrian refugees who held up placards proclaiming, “Syrians are decent people”. But Abdul Rahman a 25-year-old Syrian who arrived in Germany last year, said it was “possible” that some Syrians from his asylum hostel had taken part in the violence.
The attacks have so far been blamed on gangs of predominantly North African immigrants from Algeria and Morocco who are well known to Cologne police as pickpockets and muggers who frequent the station. Many are thought to be illegal immigrants whose asylum requests have been rejected.
Federal authorities say they have identified 18 asylum-seekers among 31 suspects linked to the crimes in Cologne. Also among the suspects were two Germans, an American and others. None was specifically accused of sexual assault.
Countries where sexual violence has become a way of life
Countries where sexual violence has become a way of life
Recommendation: I urge the Government of Afghanistan to adopt legislative reforms to ensure that sexual violence offences are not conflated with adultery or “morality crimes” and to establish infrastructure for the delivery of protection, health and le gal services to survivors. I call on the Ministry of the Interior to accelerate efforts to integrate women into the Afghan National Police, thereby enhancing its outreach and its capacity to address sexual and gender-based violence
2/19 Central African Republic
Recommendation: I urge the authorities of the Central African Republic to ensure that efforts to restore security and the rule of law take into account the prevention of sexual violence and that monitoring of the ceasefire and peace agreement explicitly reflects this consideration, in line with the joint communiqué of the Government and the United Nations on the prevention of and response to conflict-related sexual violence signed in December 2012. I further encourage the authorities to make the rapid response unit to combat sexual violence operational and to establish a special criminal court
Recommendation: I commend the Government of Colombia for the progress made to date and its collaboration with the United Nations, including through the visit of my Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict in March 2015. I encourage the authorities to implement Law 1719 and continue to prosecute cases of sexual violence committed during the conflict to ensure that survivors receive justice and receive reparations. Conflict-related sexual violence should continue to be addressed in the Havana peace talks, as well as in the resulting accords and transitional justice mechanisms. Particular attention should be paid to groups that face additional barriers to justice such as ethnic minorities, women in rural areas, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals and women abused within the ranks of armed groups. I encourage the Government to scale up its protection measures and share its good practices with other conflict-affected countries
Recommendation: I urge the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ensure full implementation of the armed forces action plan against sexual violence, to systematically bring perpetrators to justice and to deliver reparations to victims, including payment of outstanding compensation awards. I call on donors and the United Nations system to support the Government in its efforts and to pay increased attention to neglected areas, including unregulated mining regions
Recommendation: I commend the Government of Iraq for its national action plan for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) and urge its swift implementation, including by training its security forces to ensur e respect for women’s rights. Programmes to support the social reintegration of women and girls released from captivity by ISIL are urgently needed, as is community-based medical and psychological care. The capacity of the United Nations system should be enhanced through the deployment of Women’s Protection Advisers or equivalent specialists
Recommendation: I urge the national authorities in Libya to implement Decree No. 119 and Resolution 904 of 2014 to ensure redress for all victims, including those affected by the current conflict, through the establishment of multisectoral services and the adoption of legislation to categorically prohibit sexual violence
Recommendation: I urge the Government of Mali, with support from United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict, to develop a comprehensive national strategy to combat sexual and gender-based violence and to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers so that services can reach remote areas. I further call on all parties to ensure that conflict-related sexual violence is addressed in the inter-Malian dialogue and that perpetrators of sexual violence do not benefit from amnesty or early release
Recommendation: I urge the Government of Myanmar to continue with its reform agenda and, in the process, take practical and timely actions to protect and support survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and to ensure that security personnel accused of such crimes are prosecuted. Sexual violence should be an element in all ceasefire and peace negotiations, excluded from the scope of amnesty provisions and addressed in transitional justice processes. It is critical that women be able to participate consistently in and influence these processes
Recommendation: I reiterate my call to the Federal Government of Somalia to implement the commitments made under the joint communiqué of 7 May 2013 and its national action plan to combat sexual violence in conflict, including specific plans for the army and the police. I encourage the adoption of a sexual offences bill as a matter of priority
10/19 South Sudan
Recommendation: I urge the parties to the conflict in South Sudan to adopt action plans to implement the commitments made under their respective communiqués. I call upon the Government of South Sudan to address the negative impact of customary law on women’s rights and to reflect international human rights standards in national law. I also encourage the African Union to make public and act upon the report of its Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan
11/19 Sudan (Darfur)
Recommendation: I call upon the Government of the Sudan to grant the United Nations and its humanitarian partners unfettered access for monitoring and the provision of assistance to people in need in Darfur. Given that there has been grave concern over sexual violence in Darfur for more than a decade, I encourage the Government to engage with my Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict to develop a framework of cooperation to address the issue comprehensively
Recommendation: I acknowledge the Government’s invitation to my Special Representative to visit the Syrian Arab Republic and call upon the authorities, in the context of such a visit, to agree on specific measures to prevent sexual violence, including by members of the security forces. I condemn the use of sexual violence by ISIL and all other parties listed in the annex to the present report and call on them to cease such violations immediately and allow unfettered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance
Recommendation: I urge the authorities in Yemen to undertake legislative reform as a basis for addressing impunity for sexual violence, ensuring the provision of services for survivors and aligning the minimum legal age of marriage with international standards. I further call on the authorities to engage with local community and faithbased leaders to address sexual and gender-based violence and discriminatory social norms
14/19 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Recommendation: I urge the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to harmonize legislation and policies so that the rights of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to reparations are consistently recognized and to allocate a specific budget for this purpose. I further call upon the authorities to protect and support survivors participating in judicial proceedings through, inter alia, referrals to free legal aid, psychosocial and health services, as well as economic empowerment programmes
15/19 Ivory Coast
Recommendation: I urge the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to ensure the effective implementation of its national strategy to combat gender-based violence and the action plan for FRCI, and call on the international community to support these efforts. It is critical to accelerate disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and strengthen law enforcement to ensure that ex-combatants who have been reintegrated into the transport sector do not pose a risk to women and girls who are reliant on those services. The Government and the international community must provide monitoring and awareness-raising to mitigate the possibility of a recurrence of sexual violence in the context of the presidential elections to be held in October 2015
Recommendation: I call on the Government of Liberia to continue its critical efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence including through the United Nations-Government of Liberia Joint Programme, and in the context of recovery from the Ebola virus epidemic
Recommendation: I encourage the Government to ensure that survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are recognized under the law as “conflict victims”, which will enable them to access services, judicial remedies and reparations. I further call on all parties involved in the transitional justice process to ensure that the rights and needs o f survivors of sexual violence are addressed in institutional reforms and that these crimes are excluded from amnesties and statutes of limitations
18/19 Sri Lanka
Recommendation: I call upon the newly elected Government of Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of sexual violence, including against national armed and security forces, and to provide multisectoral services for survivors, including reparations and economic empowerment programmes for women at risk, including war widows and female heads of household
Recommendation: I encourage the Government to implement its national action plan on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) to ensure that women’s protection concerns are mainstreamed throughout its security operations. I also call upon the authorities to guarantee security in and around internally displaced persons camps and to extend medical and psychosocial services to high-risk areas
A leaked police account of the Cologne violence, compiled by North Rhine-Westphalia’s Federal Criminal Bureau, described in harrowing detail what the female victims suffered. “The attackers stuck their fingers through the tights and the underwear of their victims, they were surrounded on all sides, grabbed and fingered,” the report said. It said most attackers had “bloodshot eyes” and were probably either drunk or on drugs.
The Federal Criminal Bureau said that such a form of mass sexual molestation was hitherto unknown in Germany but that similar violence had occurred in Egypt on Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring.
Police also published a note scribbled on a large piece of paper which had been found at the scene of the attacks with the message “I want to f***” written in German and Arabic.
On Sunday Cologne police officer who declined to be named told the German media that he and other officers had questioned around 100 suspects who were briefly detained on New Year’s Eve and discovered that most were Syrian refugees who had only recently arrived in Germany. “They showed us the documents they get after they apply for asylum,” he said.
Similar sexual assaults also occurred in Hamburg, Stuttgart and Bielefeld. The Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, said there was no doubt in his mind that the violence was co-ordinated. “Nobody can tell me that all this was not pre-arranged and organised,” he said. Police have yet to confirm his claims.
The Interior Minister, Thomas de Maizière, has pledged to increase the number of police video cameras across Germany to deter future incidents of mass crime.
The apparent origin of many of the attackers has continued to fuel critics of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policies, which have enabled more than one million migrants to enter Germany over the past year.
On Saturday, she announced plans to speed up the expulsion of criminal asylum-seekers. She has refused to accede to the demands of many in her party who want an upper limit set on the influx, although she has pledged to take in fewer refugees over the next 12 months.
The Cologne attacks have also been seized upon by far-right and anti-Islamic movements to justify their virulently anti-immigrant views.
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