Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Germany: Right-Wing Extremist Database Proposed

(Feb. 8, 2012) On January 18, 2012, the Federal Cabinet submitted a draft law to the German Parliament that proposes the creation of a database on right-wing extremists (Gesetzesentwurf der Bundesregierung, Rechtsextremismus-Datei-Gesetz, Bundesrat Drucksache 31/12 (Jan. 20, 2012), German Parliament website). The Federal Ministry of the Interior had drafted this legislation in response to the discovery in November 2011 that a neo-Nazi organization had committed numerous politically motivated murders and other crimes since the year 2000 and that these crimes had remained unsolved (Die schlimmste Mordserie der nuller Jahre aufgeklärt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 8 (Nov. 12, 2011)). The group was quite small, consisting of possibly only four members. Some of these people had at times been under observation by German intelligence agencies. In 2003, however, the group had disappeared, and it was not under any surveillance in 2011, at the time its crimes became known (id.)

The gap in crime prevention that these events revealed caused an outcry throughout Germany, and on November 22, 2011, the Federal Diet, the representative chamber of the federal bicameral legislature, discussed these events and how to remedy this state of affairs (Deutscher Bundestag, Plenarprotokoll17/141 [Plenary Proceedings 17/141] (Nov. 22, 2011)[cut and paste Plenarprotokoll 17/141 in Google if hyperlink inoperable]). It is expected that the Federal Diet will soon begin the legislative process on the submitted draft legislation, which its authors have classified as urgent. The proposed database would be shared by the domestic intelligence agencies of the German states and the Federation and by state and federal police agencies. These agencies would contribute relevant data and be permitted to access the database for their law enforcement and intelligence-gathering purposes.

The pending draft legislation is modeled after the Anti-Terror Database Act of 2006 (Antiterrordateigesetz (Dec. 12, 2006), Bundesgesetzblatt I at 3409, as amended) which, for the first time since 1947, allowed regular information sharing between intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Germany. In 1947, the Western Allied Powers of Germany had insisted that the German authorities separate intelligence-gathering from police activities, to protect civil liberties. (Felix Ruhmannseder, Informationelle Zusammenarbeit von Polizeibehörden und Nachrichtendiensten, STRAFVERTEIDIGER FORUM 184 (2007)). By 2006, however, it had become apparent that cooperation between the numerous German intelligence and law enforcement agencies is necessary to combat terrorism (id.) Recent events have convinced the German public that such cooperation is needed to monitor the right-wing extremist scene (Innenminister Stephan Toscani: Wichtiges Signal für Schutz und Sicherheitder Menschen vor Extremismus und Terrorismus, SAARLAND (Jan. 18, 2012)).