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In today's Germany, as in most other countries of the world, two issues are acute: countering discrimination and expanding the rights of minorities, as well as increasing the effectiveness of the fight against hate crimes. Accordingly, the recommendations we offer will work in this direction:

I. Countering Discrimination, Empowering Minorities.

  1. It is necessary to heed the recommendations of experts in the field of anti-discrimination legislation and to adopt changes to the General Equality Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, AGG) as soon as possible, extending and clarifying the catalog of discriminatory actions and the criteria for their definition. Changes to this law can be made by a simple parliamentary majority, which the ruling coalition has. Court decisions not in favor of plaintiffs or the need to appeal to the European Court of Justice show that insufficiently clear and detailed criteria in some cases lead to a lack of legal responsibility for discriminatory actions.
  2. "The Berliner Landesantidiskriminierungsgesetz" (LADG) should be taken as a basis for similar legislation in other federal states. Criticism by opponents of the law cannot be considered valid. It is people with a migration background, due to insufficient knowledge of the German language, limited financial opportunities, negative experiences in the country of origin, where there is no real possibility to complain about the actions of an official, as well as insufficient knowledge of German law and the rules of interaction in society, become victims of police abuse, full or partial non-observance of their rights. One of such forms of rights violation is discrimination. The negative attitude toward the system of lawsuits through organization by the opponents of LAGD does not correspond to the already existing legal practice of the Federal Republic of Germany. This type of action has long been used in various areas of German law in which the plaintiff cannot file a complaint on his or her own. These include environmental protection, animal protection (seven federal states have even approved a list of NGOs that can file such a complaint), protection of the rights of the disabled, and in some cases also consumer protection. It would also make sense to give these powers to reputable human rights organizations in the field of anti-discrimination. This would increase the number of lawsuits and increase the chances of success in the courts. We also cannot agree with the criticism of strengthening control over the actions of the police and other civil servants.
  3. It is extremely important to achieve synchronization of legislation, compliance of regulations in terms of anti-discrimination and protection of minority rights, while being aware of the historical significance of federalism for Germany. In Germany, legal amendments aimed at improving the existing situation, but not as separate projects, are being passed at the federal and especially at the Länder level. The "First Thuringian Catering Law Amendment Act" (Erstes Gesetz zur Änderung des Thüringer Gaststättegesetzes) of 2017, the title of which has no direct reference to anti-discrimination measures, increases the administrative penalty (fine) for discrimination because of ethnic or religious background when preventing a guest from entering a discotheque during a face control or when visiting a catering establishment.
  4. In order to form a positive public opinion the executive authorities need to be more active in informing the population about the details of the draft laws against discrimination and aimed at suppressing hate crimes. A positive example is the aforementioned materials posted on Berlin's city website. This helps the population to obtain truthful first-hand information, contributes to the transparency of the authorities, and excludes negative conclusions based on unverified information obtained, for example, through "alternative" media in social networks, etc.
  5. The experience of state expert and migrant organizations shows that people with a migration background who are discriminated against are often unaware of their rights, in particular the possibility of filing an administrative or judicial complaint, contacting the local anti-discrimination commissioner and/or the integration commissioner. In order to change this situation, it is necessary to inform the population as widely as possible about the possibilities offered by the current legislation. Internet sites, newsletters, notices and brochures in town halls can be used for this purpose. In addition to German, it is recommended to use minority languages (mother tongues and/or languages they understand): Turkish, Arabic, Russian, English, French, Spanish, Polish, Greek, Serbian and Croatian, possibly other languages in areas with a high diaspora population. Such permanent information campaigns should be carried out at all levels, up to the communal (municipal) level.
  6. Expert circles in a number of Länder, such as Hesse, consider it necessary to involve the Councils for Foreigners and Integration Councils (Ausländebeirat, Integrationsbeirat) more actively in discussions of relevant draft laws. These structures, consisting of activists with a migration background, usually without German citizenship or with two citizenships, are advisory bodies in their own right. At the same time, they advise the executive branch with little participation in the public debate on the laws that are passed. In view of the fact that bills that are introduced are published in advance on the websites of the Bundestag and the Landtags, the councils could make important amendments and propose them to the deputies. Also, involving the councils in this process would help to increase their popularity. In a number of German regions, these bodies are formed on the basis of competitive elections, with election campaigns running concurrently with legislative elections. While a significant number of foreigners show interest in the council in the larger West German federal states, in the smaller states as well as in the east there is markedly less interest. Turnout is uniformly low throughout Germany. Participation in the lawmaking process, even if not directly, would increase the willingness of proactive citizens with a migration background to serve on councils.
  7. Despite the counter-arguments of some experts, it is necessary to begin a procedure of surveillance by special services not only of individual functionaries and intra-party currents, but of the party as a whole. On the basis of the results of observation it will be possible to decide on further actions.
  8. It would be advisable to expand the practice of the three federal states and create independent bodies in each federal state to which complaints about police misconduct can be lodged across the full spectrum: discrimination, racism, excessive violence, refusal to record certain circumstances of wrongdoing, etc. It is the wide range of tasks that would help such a structure avoid "accusations" from parts of society of addressing "only one" problem and "ignoring" others. Given the technical and structural difficulties, it is necessary to develop a new mechanism for evaluating the effectiveness of national programs to strengthen tolerance and introduce preventive measures against hate ideologies. The government's approval of a new plan, which will involve revising or reformatting some programs and starting others, is a good moment to develop such a mechanism.

II. Combating Hate Crime.

Developing concrete proposals to enhance the effectiveness of preventive measures to combat hate crimes appears to be a complex task. Such measures, starting with tracing the chains of those potentially involved in terrorist activities, are carried out by special services in a closed regime. There is a demand in German society for a more active fight against Islamism. According to open sources, a wide range of different steps are being taken today - from preventive work (for example, the national program and individual programs of various levels) to forceful actions (arrests and prosecution of extremists and terrorists, prohibition of relevant organizations and their symbols). Proposals from political parties, NGOs and individual experts regarding counteracting specific manifestations of extremism, such as banning certain groups, require thorough and multifaceted examination, and cannot claim to make an unequivocal assessment. Based on the above, we offer the following recommendations:

  1. In the area of combating Radical Right. The relevant structures need to take into account the marked changes in the right-wing radical environment: the continued radicalization of the Alternative for Germany (AfG) party, including the fact that the Wing faction continues to operate with its formal dissolution; the penetration of the right-wing worldview into the German security structures such as the Bundeswehr, and other trends described in the section. It should also be noted that the active participation of the far-right in demonstrations against the restrictions on public life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic brings some of them into the "open space. This allows for more effective observation of individuals and cells, tracing interconnections between radicalized elements, and, in turn, their contacts with legal politics.
  2. In the area of combating Islamism. Authorities need to take into account the findings of experts in the field of combating Islamism presented in this section. While in the short term, i.e. in the sense of preventing the immediate terrorist threat, the greatest danger is posed by individual radical loners, such as IS supporters, in the long term, in the sense of threats to society, "legal Islamists" are more dangerous. It is recognized as advisable to continue to intensify the open process of discussing various measures aimed at combating Islamism (changes in laws, instructions, deportation practices, withdrawal of passports from German citizenship holders, possibilities of preventive arrests, etc.). It is desirable to enable various social and political groups, including German Muslim representations, to participate more actively in the discussions. These representations have the strongest interest in the prevention of radical tendencies in communities. Religious communities that oppose radicals should be supported.

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