Amnesty International concerned about freedom of assembly in Germany

Fundamental right
Violence and repression by authorities: Amnesty International sees freedom of assembly in Germany at risk

Recently, the Berlin police were once again criticized for using supposed “pain attacks” in connection with climate protection protests of the “last generation”. Overall, Amnesty International complains that the authorities are taking increasingly tough action against demonstrators in this country.

© Hannes P. Albert / DPA

For the first time, Germany is rated by the human rights organization Amnesty International as a country in which freedom of assembly is threatened by state authorities.

The verdict should be a wake-up call for a country that sees itself as a democratic constitutional state, at least: “In In Germany, state authorities sometimes perceive protests as a threat to public safety and order and therefore restrict them,” says Paula Zimmermann, an expert on freedom of expression and assembly at the human rights organization Amnesty International (AI).

For the first time, the Federal Republic is listed on AO’s “Protest Map”, together with countries such as Belarus, Russia and China. The digital map shows states in which, according to the human rights organization, freedom of assembly is restricted by state authorities. According to the evaluation, unlawful violence was used against peaceful demonstrators in a total of 86 of 156 countries examined last year. Beating, arbitrary arrest, torture, disappearances and killing are therefore part of the arsenal of many unjust states.

Amnesty International criticizes German authorities

In Germany, AI sees questionable actions by state authorities, especially when dealing with climate protection protests. “Protest is sometimes criminalized and demonized instead of respecting it as a human right and recognizing it as the core of a vibrant civil society,” continues Paula Zimmermann. The authorities’ actions are causing her organization “great concern.”

AI particularly criticizes unlawful violence, the misuse of non-lethal weapons by the police, repressive legislation and the viewing of protests as a threat rather than a human right.

Among other things, the organization refers to the preventive detention of climate protection activists in Bavaria. Preventive detention is used for deterrence purposes instead of, as originally intended, to prevent serious violent crimes.

AI also criticizes the use of “pain grabs” by police officers to break up road blockades: “Pain grabs often violate proportionality, especially when they are used against peaceful protesters who could easily be carried away to break up the protest.” said Paula Zimmermann.

All Germans have the right to assemble peacefully and without weapons without registration or permission.

Article 8, paragraph 1 of the Basic Law

The use of “pain grips” is being discussed again these days in connection with the climate protection protests in Berlin. After criticism of such techniques, a spokeswoman for the capital’s police said in an interview with star, these are “legally permissible” within the framework of so-called direct coercion (read more about this here). The Berlin police added on defending/blocking person. They are therefore regularly the mildest, most suitable and necessary means.” AI expert Zimmermann says: “In some cases, these techniques can even represent degrading or inhumane treatment and thus violate the ban on torture.”

In view of the increasing repression of protests observed, Amnesty International is calling for the basic right guaranteed in the Basic Law to be guaranteed: “We appeal to the federal and state governments to comprehensively protect freedom of assembly in Germany.”

You can see Amnesty International’s “Protest Map” here

Sources: Amnesty International, Berlin police, Basic LawDPA news agency


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