Focus: Police state protection

Way out or way off? Democracy with dynamic protective fence

by WolfDieter Narr

Since the involvement of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (FOPC, Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) in the scandal concerning the ‚NationalSocialist Underground‘ demands have been increasingly made in leftwing and leftliberal circles for the abolition of the domestic secret service. Some critics are now of the opinion that the police force, or to put it more clearly, the political police, can undertake the tasks performed until now by the FOPC, as they are better controlled and act more constitutionally. This is an obviously false conclusion. Political penal law, the essential instrument applied by the police force, has always criminalised political convictions. Linked to this are comprehensive procedural criminal and police powers for surveillance. Therefore not only the abolition of the FOPC is necessary, but also a thorough cleanup of the political penal and police laws, which are riddled with imaginary political enemies, together with a democratic reform of the police force as a whole.

Control problem: State protection force as secret police

by Norbert Pütter

Control of the political police, the police force endowed with state protection powers, has proven to be just as difficult as that of the secret services. There is a lack of transparency even in essential structural data such as personnel numbers and particularly as to how the state protection force carries out its tasks. This especially applies to the use of secret methods, which only requires a judge’s order if applied in the framework of criminal proceedings. Only a small part of the state protection practice can be checked by way of data protection. And parliamentary control fails, as a rule, due to the lack of political will and devotion to secrecy.

Police state protection in Germany

by Mark Holzberger and Albrecht Mauer

The German police have state protection departments  at the federal, regional (Länder) and even municipal level. The one run by the Federal Crime Police Authority (Bundeskriminalamt – BKA) has a current staff of 700 and is not only the largest but also the most influential. It played a significant role in the hunt for Communists in the 1950s and 60s, in the struggle against the Red Army Faction in the 70s and 80s and has – after a slight reduction in staff in the 90s – since gained in personnel and power once again. Collaboration by the police state protection departments with the intelligence services has always existed and has reached a new stage with the creation of cooperative centres such as the Terrorist Defence Centre (Terrorismusabwehrzentrum) in Berlin and the Extremism and Terrorism Defence Centre (Extremismus und Terrorismus Abwehrzentrum) in Cologne and Meckenheim.

Whether hen house or castor: the police state protection force sees all

Interview with defence lawyer Martin Lemke

From his 20 years of experience as a defence lawyer in Hamburg, Martin Lemke knows that the police state protection force jumps into action even for trifling matters, whether in connection with nuclear waste transports to Gorleben or for local protests against giant chicken fattening farms. The whole arsenal of observation techniques is thereby applied, from police informers and telephone monitoring to the hacking of private computers.

State protection files: not at all piecemeal

Interview with lawyer Sönke Hilbrans

Sönke Hilbrans is a board member of the German Association for Data Protection and of the Republican Lawyers‘ Association, one of the progressive legal bodies in Germany. In an interview he paints a broad panorama of the databases of the state protection force: it thereby becomes clear that masses of data are involved. The case file ‚Inner  111 Security‘, which is mutually fed by the federal and the regional states (Länder), contains entries on 90,000 people. But individual official files of the Federal Crime Police Authority (Bundeskriminalamt – BKA) can hold tens of thousands of databases. Not much is needed, only a personal check near a demonstration, to be registered in one of the state protection force files. Even an acquittal does not guarantee deletion of the data.

Police state protection force and intelligence services in Europe

by Mark Holzberger and Albrecht Maurer

The police and secret services are being increasingly integrated in Europe. This is shown not only by Europol and the two terrorism working groups in the Council. Various law enforcement bodies are present here which are formally part of the police but perform the functions of a domestic intelligence service. The EU has its own intelligence apparatus with INTCEN (formerly SITCEN) but collaboration between the nonpolice secret services continues outside the framework and the rather ineffective control of EU institutions.

Beyond the focus

The second Oury Yalloh court case

by Dirk Vogelskamp

On 7 January 2005 Oury Yalloh, a 36yearold asylum seeker from Sierra Leone, burned to death in custody at Dessau Police Station, where he was bound hand and foot on a mattress. In an initial court case before the Dessau Regional Court the police officers involved were acquitted of the charge of manslaughter. The Federal Court quashed this sentence in January 2010 and referred the case for review at the Magdeburg Regional Court, which then sentenced the section leader in charge at the time to a fine in December 2012, amongst other things because he had ignored a fire alarm warning from the cell. However, once again, the whole array of violent police behaviour leading up to this death by burning, starting with Yalloh’s unnecessary arrest and ending in his being shackled in his cell, were ignored in the proceedings.