Germany considers boosting security measures following extremist attacks

Published August 12th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
Amnesty says the ban is in breach of Belgium's obligations under international human rights law. (AFP/File)
Amnesty says the ban is in breach of Belgium's obligations under international human rights law. (AFP/File)

Security measures making it easier to detain and deport extremist suspects and strip foreign fighters of their German citizenship are all on the table, Germany's top domestic security official said Thursday, trying to calm a country scarred by attacks.

"Nobody can guarantee absolute security, but we need to do everything within our power," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told a press conference on Thursday, laying out issues that will now have to be considered by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government.

The measures include: introducing "threat to public safety" as new grounds for detention; making it easier to deport criminals and those deemed to be dangerous; and stripping dual nationals who join extremist groups in Iraq and Syria of their German citizenship.

Other measures put forward by the Interior Ministry include a crackdown on online sympathizers of extremism.

The plan is intended to boost staffing and equipment for security forces and improve the policing and prosecution of extremist suspects by the end of Merkel's third term in late 2017, de Maiziere said.

Germany has been on high alert since four violent attacks in the space of one week last month - three of them committed by asylum seekers and two of them claimed by Islamic State - left 12 people dead, three of them attackers.

During an annual press conference in the wake of the attacks, Merkel vowed to do "everything humanly possible" to ensure security in Germany.

De Maiziere on Thursday denied claims that one of the measures contained in the plan would water down patient confidentiality rules, making it easier for doctors to report planned crimes to authorities.

He said that the government would work with representatives of the profession to ensure better cooperation under current rules, which already allow doctors to report their patients under certain circumstances.

Several state security officials in Merkel's conservative political bloc have put forward a separate package of measures that include a ban of full-face coverings for Muslim women and forbidding dual citizenship.

De Maiziere said that those measures were still under discussion and that he did not agree with all of them. He added that proposals to ban full-face coverings was incompatible with the German constitution.

"You cannot forbid everything that you reject, and I reject the wearing of the burqa," de Maiziere said, referring to the covering worn by Afghan women.


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