Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings

Application of Legislation, Criminal Cases, Court Rulings

In general, this legislation in observed. To improve the effectiveness of German anti-discrimination legislation, an Anti-Discrimination Agency has been established in accordance with the Equal Treatment Act. The Agency is an independent organisation that provides assistance for the victims of discrimination.

It assists persons who have been subjected in their daily life to racist or anti-Semitic attacks, or subjected to discrimination on the grounds of nationality, ethnic origin, disability, etc.

In 2014, Germany adopted a Human Rights Action Plan for 2014-2016, which provides for extensive measures of combatting racism, xenophobia, discrimination and supporting the rights of migrants and refugees.

On July 9, parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia decided to implement a special account of crimes motivated by Islamophobia. Until now, special statistical data was only available for anti-Semitic and homophobic incidents.

Federal Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution organised two permanent exhibitions dedicated to right wing extremism, annually attended by 100 000 people. In 2011, a hotline was set up for victims of extreme right activists or threatened by them.

In 2012, police and special services established a Reaction Centre against Right Wing Extremism and Terrorism.

NDP Leader in Frankfurt was dismissed in May after his extreme right-wing political views came to light. His subsequent appeal was not supported by court. Detection of hate crime in Germany is at approximately 60%.

European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance published a report on Germany in February 2014, where it commended its authorities for their efforts in combatting xenophobia. However, ECRI criticised German law enforcement of excessively focusing on organised extreme right forces, while other forms of racism and discrimination remain unnoticed in Germany. In particular, ECRI pointed to anti-Semitic statements in the Muslims circles and multiple cases of homophobia in public.

Currently, incitement to hatred is punished only if it poses a threat to public order. However, this is often hard to prove. This leads to “impunity” that must be eliminated. Nevertheless, German authorities are being very active in curbing racism in its roots – particularly after the exposure of an underground neo-Nazi group in 2011. More attention is thus paid to prevent propaganda of racism online. In spring 2013, Federal Criminal Police Service shut down the largest German online forum Thiazi-Net, and its founders were brought on charges of “creation of a criminal group” and “incitement of hatred between peoples”. Investigations in this regard were also held in the army in 2012-2013. In addition, authorities (especially in federal states) started focusing on the prevention of hate crime and to this end are actively cooperating with civil society organisations whose activities are aimed at combatting radical nationalism.

Currently Germany has a large number of NGOs aimed against neo-Nazism. Some of them work in education, others monitor manifestations of anti-Semitism online, etc. Most notably, ethno-racial profiling is implicitly present in the German Federal Police Act and may de facto lead to racial discrimination, especially considering the arbitrariness of the criteria that involve notions such as “feel for a certain situation” or “the persons’ external appearance”.

A brutal example of police violence occurred this spring in Hanover, where a 39-year-old police officer allegedly abused two migrants, force-feeding rotten pork to one of them. In reaction to this case, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, Nils Muizneks, explicitly pointed to the existence of institutional racism in Germany. Although there was no government response to this criticism at the legislative level, the officials nevertheless took preventive measures against the further escalation of violence. According to Wolfgang Brandt, the representative of the Ministry of the Interior of Brandenburg, the police work closely with federal migration authorities to "facilitate the integration of asylum seekers in local municipalities" and "are on high alert to identify, assess and combat racist crime".

After the discovery of the National-Socialist Underground in Germany in 2011, and particularly following its trial in 2013, German police started paying more attention to extreme right-wing groups.

Increased hate crime and frequent attacks on refugee centres (more than 200 in 2014) have prompted German authorities to reinforce the security of such institutions. In the first months of 2015, German police conducted raids across the country and arrested four men who were planning attacks on mosques and refugee housing centres. Police say that the suspects were affiliated with a recently established right-wing extremist group that calls itself the Old School Society. The four suspects had purchased explosives with the plan to carry out terrorist attacks, police said .

In 2017, almost four-year process ended, connected with an attempt to ban the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) as a neo-Nazi and right-wing extremist party. In January, the Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany decided to deny the lawsuit of the federal states banning the NPD. In its verdict, numbering about 300 pages, the judges concluded that the activities of the NPD contradict the Basic Law of Germany, and its rhetoric contains parallels with the National Socialists.

But at the same time, according to the court, the party does not bear the immediate threat of democracy, because it operates exclusively at the level of proclamations. According to the court, no confirmation was provided that the NPD is taking, or is willing to take, any measures to implement its rhetoric. There is no trace of how this could be done. In other words, the judges, in accordance with the German laws, which established traditionally high barriers to the banning of parties, recognized the NPD as an insignificant political force.

Specialists (experts in the field of combating right-wing extremism, lawyers, politicians), in general, approved the court's verdict. An important unofficial argument was voiced on the sidelines: it is more convenient for special services to control radicals when they have a formalized representation of interests. In the event of a ban on the NPD, the extremists would go underground. Despite this, there were voices of objection and bewilderment in social networks. Internet users, in particular in the German-speaking segment of the Facebook social network, wrote that the NPD, with its racist and misanthropic propaganda, is poisoning the public climate in Germany, so it would be advisable to ban it, even if the party does not have the opportunity to implement its right-wing extremist program in practice.

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