The government of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is planning to massively tighten the existing police law. The aim is to pass the law quietly and quickly before the parliamentary summer break. The proposed law undermines basic constitutional principles, such as the division of powers and the presumption of innocence.
The proposed police law will allow the police to stop and search any person on the street without suspicion, put them in preventive custody for up to one month or place them under house arrest. They will be allowed to hack into smartphones and messenger apps such as Whatsapp – not only suspects’ devices but also their social contacts’ privacy will be scrutinized without their knowledge. Furthermore, video surveillance will be expanded in public areas.
At the core of the new police law stands the introduction of the new legal concept of “threatening danger” (“drohende Gefahr” in German). Through the term “threatening danger” the police will be enabled to act on the mere assumption of danger. While it may seem desirable to take preventive measures against crime, the proposed law puts unsuspicious and constitutionally protected behavior in the realm of suspicion and thus threatens the presumption of innocence. The rights to impose punishment and to intervene on the suspicion of danger blurs the line between police and intelligence operations and disregards the separation of powers.
Every person will be affected by these attacks on basic rights. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is enough to become a “suspect”. However, there is no doubt that some will be affected more than others – namely those who are already particularly targeted by the police. The expansion of strategic searches, as foreseen in the proposed law, will result in even more vehement racial profiling. The homeless, the mentally ill, political activists, strikers, football fans and many more will also feel the severity of these new measures.
In 2017, Germany had the lowest crime rates of the last twenty-five years. Still, police laws are being tightened in several states at this time. Abstract terror threats and a vague feeling of insecurity are enough for state governments to justify these new laws. This is the road that leads to a police and surveillance state!
That is why we say –as has been said in many other German states- NO to the new police laws in NRW, NO to the massive encroachment on the fundamental rights of millions of people, and NO to mass surveillance disguised as security and order!
We are publicly informing about the changes in the police law and its affects. For this reason, we will organize events in various cities across NRW. Feel free to contact us regarding events in your city.
We urge the NRW parliament not to adopt the legislative changes. We will critically accompany the debates on the law in the state parliament in Düsseldorf and will observe the public hearing on June 7th. You can follow all updates on this website.
With a mass demonstration on 07/07/2018, just days before the likely final session on the law, we want to carry our protest to the streets of Düsseldorf – join us and mobilize for the demonstration in advance.
We will not stop to actively oppose this law, even if it should be passed. We will not sit idly by while the state government is limiting our basic rights.
We are the alliance “No to the new police law NRW”. We consist of different civil society groups and extra-parliamentary activists; we are individuals of different organizations and political parties. Even if we may not agree on every position in our daily activism, we are united in our struggle against this new police law because it affects us all – in our daily lives, on the streets, in school and universities, and at work.