Thematic focus: Nothing but counter-terrorism?

Almost suspicious – an introduction
by Heiner Busch

The man who killed twelve people by driving a truck into a Berlin Christmas market on 19 December 2016 was under close surveillance by the police. However, the evidence for making a criminal case was not sufficient. The German government is now planning to expand the powers against so-called “dangerous persons” and aims, among others, to amend the Residence Act and the Federal Criminal Police Office Act.

Left activists from Turkey as “foreign terrorist association”?
Interview with Franziska Nedelmann and Lukas Theune

The criminalisation of the formation of “terrorist organisations” abroad by Section 129b of the German Penal Code also affects Kurdish and Turkish activists. Eleven activists are currently on trial in Berlin and Munich, not accused of violent crimes in Germany but of their alleged relation to assaults in Turkey. Their defence lawyers talk about excessive investigations, the cooperation of the German police with Turkish agencies and political motifs behind the charges.

Electronic monitoring against Salafis?
by Helmut Pollähne

The German parliament is currently discussing a bill by which electronic monitoring of the whereabouts of  “extremist dangerous persons” would be authorised. Yet, it is already possible to order electronic monitoring of convicted Salafis after their release. Thus, it appears that electronic control of extremism may turn into extreme control, as demonstrated by a dubious manoeuver of the political police in Bremen.

Who drives EU counter-terrorism?
by Matthias Monroy and Heiner Busch

Policy-making in the European “Security Union” is still dominated by national governments. A swarm of Council bodies, populated with senior officials from interior ministries and security agencies, seconded by the Counter Terrorism Coordinator is framing the problems and setting agendas – prevailing over both the Commission and the Parliament.

Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases
by Matthias Monroy and Heiner Busch

The emergence of police information systems is propelled by counter-terrorism since the 1970. The current fight against “foreign terrorist fighters” rapidly fills the EU-wide police databases with information on suspected terrorists and “dangerous persons”. Systems initially launched for migration management are made accessible for law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and new systems are under construction. Whereas the focus is no longer only on third-country nationals, all these systems shall become interoperable in the name of total security.

Policing the internet: Europol’s Internet Referral Unit
by Kilian Vieth

In summer 2015, Europol launched its Internet Referral Unit (IRU). The IRU reports “terrorist” and “extremist” content but also websites allegedly facilitating “migrant smuggling” to internet services such as Facebook or Twitter, and requests deletion. Details of this public-private partnership remain unknown.

The state of emergency in France
by Fabien Jobard

In response to the attacks in Paris on 14 November 2015, President François Hollande imposed the state of emergency, which was extended several times. In addition to the special emergency powers, there is an “ordinary” anti-terrorist law, which was tightened in 2016. Everyday life, at least in the French cities, is today characterized by heavily armed police and soldiers.

Arming for counter-terrorism
by Dirk Burczyk

The police are not only fitted with new powers. In addition, staff is increasing significantly, new federal special operations unit are established and existing special forces in the states are equipped with military weapons. Whereas the necessity of the latter is questionable, the new jobs meet long-standing demands after two decades of neoliberal cuts.

Non-thematic contributions

Police shootings in Europe
by Otto Diederichs

Not only the frequency of the police using firearms differs across Europe but also whether and how this ultimate form of the use of force by state agents is perceived. Figures that would allow a comparative perspective are very poor.

Body cams in Germany and the United States
by Volker Eick

For about a decade, police officers are lobbying for the introduction of body cams. The new technology proves to be a good deal. While body cams are often advertised as an instrument for the prevention of police violence in the United States, the cameras are marketed as a means to prevent attacks against police officers in Germany. At a closer look, both claims prove to be false.

Targeting “Outlaw motorcycle gangs”
by Dirk Burczyk

Despite legal concerns, the Association Act was amended in December 2016, broadening the scope of the ban on “outlaw motorcycle gang” symbols. The legal change escalates the fight of the police and interior ministers against the blurred phenomenon of “rocker crime”. Though the instruments to avert dangers by violent rockers are available for a long time, the state is acting tougher on a stigmatized subcultural milieu, which has become synonymous with “organized crime”.

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