Justice department opposes plans to monitor children

justice department opposes plans to monitor children

Interior minister horst seehofer’s (CSU) plans to allow the constitutional protection agency to store information on radicalized children have met with resistance from his coalition partner and the opposition.

The house of justice minister katarina barley (SPD) does not want to support the draft law and refrain from a more in-depth legal evaluation of the individual regulations, government sources confirmed to the german press agency. Earlier, the newspapers of the funke mediengruppe (wednesday) had reported that.

Barley’s ministry considers the scope of surveillance measures with which the federal office for the protection of the constitution should be equipped in the future to be clearly exceeded. The ministry also misses a strengthening of the parliamentary control of the intelligence service agreed in the coalition agreement. A spokeswoman for the ministry said on wednesday that she could not provide any details because the draft law was currently being discussed among the ministries.

Until now, the constitutional protection agency has not been allowed to store information about radicalized children. Although facts involving children are already allowed to be recorded in the files of the federal office for the protection of the constitution (bundesamt fur verfassungsschutz, bfv), the ministry is not satisfied with the fact that many people are now willing to sacrifice all legal assets for the fight against terrorism. But an entry in the intelligence information system (NADIS), in which the federal government and the states exchange data, is not permitted. Three years ago, the grand coalition lowered the age limit for monitoring from 16 to 14 years old.

The idea behind the minimum age limit of 14 years, which has been in force up to now, was that anyone who ends up on the radar of the constitutional protection agency as a result of parental indoctrination or their own aberrations in childhood should not be at a disadvantage later on – for example, with the foreign authorities. Or if he applies as an adult for a position for which a security clearance is required. Now seehofer wants this barrier to fall as well.

Mathias middelberg, the spokesman on domestic policy for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, defended the plan. "You only have to remember the case of the 12-year-old from ludwigshafen in 2016, who had already advanced his plans for a bomb attack," he said. He referred to "the high number of children born in IS combat zones, some of whom may enter germany". The plans had two objectives: "on the one hand, it is about averting existing dangers for our population". On the other hand, it is also about being able to take appropriate measures to deradicalize these children."

Criticism came from the coalition partner and the opposition. SPD member of parliament helge lindh (SPD) called the push to store children’s data "inappropriate". The reform is not acceptable – also because the children are usually monitored anyway through the storage of data on their radicalized parents. He said: "we cannot sacrifice all legal assets for the fight against terrorism."

Irene mihalic (grune) also warned against the plans. "Radicalization processes among children must be countered as best we can with prevention," she demanded. One observation counters this. The deputy leader of the FDP parliamentary group, stephan thomae, also expressed skepticism. "The monitoring of children is highly sensitive," he explained. "It must be ensured, for example, that this episode does not hang around their necks like a millstone for the rest of their lives and block their opportunities in life."

The padagogue thomas mucke told SWR aktuell that he considers the plan to be wrong. "We need to protect children from extremism, but we don’t need to protect society from these children. The children do not have a closed world view. If you monitor them, you get the impression that they are an active threat to democracy and our constitution." This is not the way to look at children. Mucke is co-founder of the non-governmental organization "violence prevention network", which is active in the field of extremism prevention as well as in the field of deradicalization of extremist motivated violent criminals.


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