Three construction sites in the fight against right-wing extremism in security agencies – and what should change

Police officers at the train station in Reutlingen during a demonstration against corona measures in March 2022.

Police officers at the train station in Reutlingen during a demonstration against corona measures in March 2022.Image: www.imago-images.de / imago images

Your questions – our answers

The fact that right-wing violence in Germany is currently “one of the greatest security policy challenges” was also shown this week by the Federal Criminal Police Office’s annual report. The willingness to use violence is increasing, especially in the corona denial scene. Right-wing extremism is also a problem for the security authorities.

Laura Czypull

A new situation report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution shows: In the past three years there have been 327 cases of suspected or proven extremists in the federal and state security agencies.

In over 60 percent of these cases there were or are connections to chat groups or personal contacts with the right-wing extremist scene.

These numbers are frighteningsays Thomas Haldenwang, President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, at a press conference with Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser in Berlin on Friday.

It is the second status report on right-wing extremism in security agencies. This time cases from the “Reichsbürger” and “Selbstverwalter” scene as well as from the armed forces taken into account in the survey.

In addition to the Federal Police, security authorities also include the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Bundestag Police, customs, the Federal Intelligence Service and the Federal Armed Forces.

“Each of these cases is one too many and must be pursued”, emphasizes Faeser. Because they pose a high risk. Officials in security agencies would not only have Access to sensitive data, but also access to weapons. Here one is obliged to take a closer look, she says.

Three points that should change now:

Promotion of the prevention of right-wing extremism

In response to the 327 cases of right-wing extremists in security agencies, 500 labor and disciplinary measures have been initiated over the past three years. Haldenwang emphasizes that this is an important step forward. In 60 cases, employees have already been made redundant or will soon be made redundant.

The number of cases is nine times higher than in the last report and the actual cases are three times as many as before. However, this does not mean that the situation in the security authorities has become more extremist. Rather, it is due to the successful work in reaction, detection and prevention of right-wing extremism.

In the area of ​​prevention, action can be taken when selecting personnel, says Haldenwang. There are contact points on site and the training opportunities for employees have been expanded. The federal government has also provided teaching material that the states can now work with.

This is already having an effect: “The display behavior has changed significantly”, says Haldenwang when asked by a journalist. The situation reports and reporting on right-wing extremism initiated a process of raising awareness. And the low-threshold measures would make it easier to report suspected cases.

Specification of the 10-point plan against right-wing extremism

At a press conference on Tuesday about the increasing willingness to use violence among corona deniers, great hopes were placed in Federal Interior Minister Faeser.

Etris Hashemi, survivor and relative of the racist attack in Hanau, called Faeser’s 10-point plan presented in March a “necessary and long overdue step”. However, there is no concept of how these points should be enforced in the current legislative period.

Until now.

The so-called 10-point plan against right-wing extremism is linked to the 89 measures taken by the previous government at. Among other things, he stipulates that the right-wing extremist scene should be disarmed, its finances dried up, online hatred combated, extremists thrown out of public service and prevention strengthened.

Nancy Faeser at the presentation of the situation report on politically motivated crime on Tuesday.

Nancy Faeser at the presentation of the situation report on politically motivated crime on Tuesday.Image: www.imago-images.de / imago images

In response to watson’s question as to whether there are concrete plans on how to implement the action plan against right-wing extremism in this legislative period, Faeser said on Friday, implementation has already begun: for example, by dismantling right-wing networks, such as the ban on the successor network to Combat 18. The right-wing extremist group Combat 18 was already banned under Faeser’s predecessor Horst Seehofer in 2020.

She further says:

“We are currently preparing legal preparations to tighten gun laws and we will implement the disciplinary law for faster removal from public service later this year.”

We are in the process of implementing the 10-point plan step by step. “The sooner the better,” adds Faeser.

Amendment of the Disciplinary Law

There are effective mechanisms in disciplinary law to take action against enemies of the constitution, says Faeser. “But the disciplinary proceedings take far too long – sometimes even several years.” Faeser therefore wants to present a draft law to amend the Federal Disciplinary Act this year.

However, it has not yet been decided exactly what that will be: agreements are being made, Faeser replies when asked by a journalist. But: “There is an instrument that I find very interesting and that Baden-Württemberg is now using: the reversal of the burden of proof.”

This means that employees can be removed from service if there are indications of unconstitutionality. They then have to prove themselves that this is a false assumption.

It is currently being examined whether this reversal of the burden of proof legally represents a permanent possibility for the Disciplinary Act.

With this picture of the situation on increasing right-wing violence in civil society and in security authorities, there is still a lot to do for Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

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