Crime fighting laws and the rule of law – an introduction
by Norbert Pütter, Heiner Busch and Wolf-Dieter Narr
During the last few years, the Federal Constitutional Court on several occasions declared police powers unconstitutional, thereby forcing the federation and the Länder to implement new laws. However, the court’s demand for the protection of the „core areas of private life“, which police and secret services are not allowed to infringe upon during their surveillance operations, does not solve the fundamental problem: any powers designed to fight criminal acts which might possibly occur in the future through the secret collection of data, inevitably lead to undefined legal concepts and destroy the limiting character of the law.
Law-makers ignore constitutional court decision
by Martin Kutscha
In its recent decisions on bugging operations (Lauschangriff) as well as interception of telecommunications, the Federal Constitutional Court laid down requirements to be upheld by the federation and the Länder. However, new legislative proposals show that the legislative is reluctant to implement the rulings of the constitutional court. On the contrary, the Länder are using this new law-making opportunity to create new and more police powers.
New limits for the surveillance of telecommunications
by Sönke Hilbrans
In its decision of March 2004 on bugging operations (Lauschangriff), the Federal Constitutional Court made clear that the state could not infringe on the „core areas of private life“. This limitation also applies to the interception of telecommunications. In another decision from July 2005, the court criticised powers enshrined in Lower Saxony’s police law on preventative interception of telecommunications.
New technology under old law
by Alfred Becker
Technological development creates new forms of surveillance and secret forms of data collection. The deployment of such technology is developing not so much according to the clear intention of the legislator, but rather according to the „wishes of (police) practice“. The newly created facts are then made legal by retrospectively creating increased legal powers and remits. This retrospective sanctification, however, does not put an end to the infringement of fundamental rights.
The legal control of undercover operations
by Udo Kauß
In 1991/92, the regional crime police office (Landeskriminalamt – LKA) of Baden-Würt-temberg deployed undercover police officers to spy on the left-wing scene. It took eleven years before the LKA was finally forced to admit this operation in Freiburg, it took another two years for a ruling of the regional administrative court to declare the police operation illegal. This legal victory was only possible because one victim realised he was being spied on and because he had the stamina to see through the 13 year long legal battle.
Terrorists without terrorism – a new European Convention
by Tony Bunyan
With its new draft law on terrorism the British government wants to create a new criminal act of „glorifying terrorism“. It thereby bases itself on the Council of Europe Convention on the „prevention of terrorism“, signed in May 2005, which does not criminalise terrorist behaviour but public speaking. The EU Member States, who had rejected similar US plans only in the summer of 2004, took active part in drafting the Convention.
New developments in Swiss police law
by Viktor Györffy
Recent laws and draft legislation show that police regulations in Switzerland’s Cantons are undergoing a slow but steady change. Up to now, the Canton of Zurich, like many other Cantons, only had a rudimentary police regulation and based police conduct almost exclusively on the general clause that empowers police to act against concrete, that is immediate threats. The powers envisaged in the draft regulation, amongst others to control and ban persons from public places, extend this narrow definition to include purely preventative policing.
EU: Data retention of traffic data
by Mark Holzberger
Telecommunications companies now have to retain traffic data resulting from all electronic telecommunications within the EU for up to two years. This is what the justice and home affairs ministers have decided in December 2005 – with approval from the European Parliament.
Internal security and the plans of the big coalition
by Norbert Pütter
In her first government declaration, the new chancellor promised to dare implementing more „freedom“. However, the government’s plans for next years‘ internal security policy contain more state intervention than ever. Extending the criminal code, increasing preventative police powers, conflating police and security services, mixing remits of military and police … At the end of the „second period of promoterism“ that Angela Merkel announced in her government declaration, the German security state will have been extended even further.
Press freedom light – raiding editorial offices
by Anja Lederer
In a report from 1997, the media trade union informed that at least once a month, the police raids editorial offices and journalists‘ houses. Various examples from this past year show that the threshold for the state to intervene into press freedom has sunk even further.