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November 16, 2019
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German Govt approves measures to combat right-wing extremism, requires social media firms to report IP addresses of users making death threats

9.11.2019 12:24
In the eastern German community of Ostritz a two-day festival was held on 20 and 21 April 2018 at which neo-Nazis from the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland celebrated the birthday of the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. (PHOTO:  ČTK)
In the eastern German community of Ostritz a two-day festival was held on 20 and 21 April 2018 at which neo-Nazis from the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland celebrated the birthday of the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. (PHOTO: ČTK)

Last month the German Government approved a package of measures against right-wing extremism and the dissemination of hate through the Internet in response to the attack by a right-wing radical on a synagogue in Halle in the eastern part of the country. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said he continues to consider right-wing extremism and terrorism to pose a significant threat.

Seehofer confirmed the danger when presenting the measures in Berlin. He reminded the public of the crimes committed after the turn of the millenium by the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a neo-Nazi group that murdered 10 people, most of whom were of Turkish origin, between 2000 and 2007, as well as the murder this year of Walter Lübcke, a politician with the governing Christian Democrats, to which a right-wing extremist has confessed.

The German Interior Minister's list of such crimes includes that recent attack by an antisemitic radical on the Halle synagogue, which has shocked the country. In order to prevent such crimes in the future, the Government has decided to tighten the rules for weapons possession and the obligations of online social networks.

Social media companies will not just be legally required to delete hateful commentaries or death threats, but also to report them to the police along with the IP address of the account that posted them, thanks to which it will be possible ascertain the identity of the perpetrator. Up to now it has been very complicated for detectives to investigate such incidents because of what they allege is insufficient collaboration from the social network companies.

"It is out of the question for hatred and incitement to be allowed to fall on fertile ground in this country," emphasized German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, according to whom it must be clear that the law applies online. For his part, the German Interior Minister expressed his appreciation for a proposal that counts on tightening the norms about weapons possession.

The innovation there is that when reviewing firearms permit applications, the authorities will have to verify whether the applicant is listed as an extremist by the counter-intelligence service. If the applicant has so been identified, he or she will not be given a gun permit.

"We must do all we can to make sure firearms do not get into the hands of extremists," the German Interior Minister said. Other measures that the German Parliament will be reviewing in the next few months, whether as amendments or bills, count on better protection for local politicians against gross insults and better prevention of antisemitism and right-wing radicalism.

The German authorities recorded the existence last year of 24 100 individual right-wing extremists, roughly half of whom (12 700) are prepared to use violence, according to counter-intelligence. Last year right-wing radicals in Germany committed a total of 20 431 felonies, slightly lower than the year before, when they committed 20 520 felonies.

SB, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Extremism, Germany, Internet, Neo-Nazism



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