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Security Guards At German Refugee Camp Accused Of Sexual Assault

Women at the camp described an alleged criminal ring among security personnel, who sneak other men into the camp in security uniforms in order to rape and assault refugees.

COLOGNE, Germany — Nine security guards at a refugee camp near the city of Cologne have been accused of sexual misconduct, including assault and rape, by female refugees living there.

Women in the Westerwaldstrasse camp describe in an “open letter” an allegedly organized criminal ring among security personnel, who they say sneak other men into the camp in security uniforms in order to rape and assault refugees.

“They wait in a group for the women going to the toilet on the outskirts of the camp; they intercept them, and they rape them while other people in the group watch,” the letter says.

The letter alleges that a group of nine security guards run a criminal ring — “one leader, four men on the early shift and four men on the late shift.” It also alleges that the perpetrators videotape women while they’re sleeping and showering, and that they psychologically coerce women with promises of independent housing in exchange for sexual favors.

Some of the women who have been assaulted are minors, the letter says.

Several women have been subjected to this kind of abuse and several more witnessed it, the letter says. But the camp management has allegedly done nothing with reports that the letter says were made weeks ago.

The open letter was published online on Wednesday by Dignity4Refugees, but it is not signed. The police said they have so far identified one woman with information about the allegations. Cologne’s major daily newspaper, Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, today reported that it had spoken with three women who made similar accusations.

Adler-Wache, the security company in charge of the camp in question, vehemently denied both the allegations and any knowledge of prior reports.

“We have not heard of a single one of these cases,” Bernhard Deschamps, a manager at Adler-Wache, told the local paper. “If I had known about even one case, I’d have been the first to go to the police.” The company, he said, will use “every legal means to disprove the accusations.”

The Cologne police said in a statement late Wednesday night that it had learned of the allegations only because it was responding to a call from a neighbor complaining about a street protest.

The police answered the call at 2 p.m. to find about 50 women in a “spontaneous” demonstration against poor camp conditions. There, police said, they learned about these accusations through the open letter.

Cologne’s police force has come under criticism for its handling of sexual violence cases earlier this year. Several hundred women have reported to police that they were groped and assaulted at the main train station on New Year’s Eve, contradicting an early characterization by the police of a calm holiday. The police chief was subsequently fired.




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Jina Moore is the international women's rights correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Nairobi. Moore has reported from Liberia at the height of the Ebola crisis and on women’s issues around the world.
Contact Jina Moore at jina.moore@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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