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Germany

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Last updated on 08.02.2019 at 13:01

Germany-Overview

Civic freedoms, including freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression are widely respected in both law and practice in Germany.

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 Thousands protest for more sustainable EU agriculture policy in Berlin

Thousands protest for more sustainable EU agriculture policy in Berlin

Under the slogan “We have enough of the agribusiness industry”,on 19th January 2019, around 35.000 people protested against the negative impacts of EU agricultural subsidies in Berlin.

Peaceful Assembly

Under the slogan “We have enough of the agribusiness industry”, on 19th January 2019, around 35.000 people protested against the negative impact of EU agricultural subsidies in Berlin. The protest was organised in the context of the annual Berlin International Green Week, an international trade fair for processors and marketers in agriculture, horticulture and various food industries. Protesters highlighted, among other issues, that big agricultural farms benefit a lot more from subsidies than their smaller counterparts. Furthermore, according to the organisers, the subsidies also have a negative impact on climate change, and lead to the extinction of species and a decrease in small farms. The demonstration was peaceful and no incidents were reported. 

Expression

According to digital rights organisation European Digital Rights (EDRI), the number of police laws increased in Germany in 2018. Under the aim of fighting against terrorism, governments at the regional level are introducing "drastic measures of surveillance: governmental hacking via state trojans, more video surveillance, more police controls in the public space, lifelong restraining orders, weeks of imprisonment without legal aid and arming the police forces with machine guns."

Some protests took place, including by opposition politicians, unions and even fans from rival soccer clubs across the country who say the legislation expands police powers without enough protections for citizens. During the protests, groups carried banners featuring slogans such as "I'm a Feminist not a Terrorist!", “No to the new police law!” and “Fighting together for democratic rights,” as well as “Defend fundamental rights.”

Association

Article 9 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany guarantees the right of all Germans to form corporations and other associations.

Article 9 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany guarantees the right of all Germans to form corporations and other associations. In practice, NGOs, formal and informal associations, and trade unions are free to operate without state interference. Non-state interference with the activities of CSO and human rights defenders appears to be on the rise however. In 2016, the German Institute for Human Rights reported: ‘with the new refugee situation and assistance in Germany, those active in work with refugees have become a target for hatred and violence. According to the estimates of civil society organisations, this threat is often not sufficiently recognised by government agencies.’

Peaceful Assembly

Article 8 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany guarantees the right of all Germans to assemble.

Article 8 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany guarantees the right of all Germans to assemble peacefully and unarmed, and without prior notification or permission. Protests are common, and the right is respected in practice, with exceptions for groups espousing Nazism or opposing democratic order.

Expression

Freedom of expression is protected in the constitution, and journalists and the media are largely free and independent.

Freedom of expression is protected in the constitution, and journalists and the media are largely free and independent. Hate speech, advocating Nazism, and denial of the Holocaust has long been punishable under German law. Germany’s criminal code currently contains a provision which makes it illegal to insult foreign heads of state. In April 2016, German authorities acceded to a request from Turkish President Erdoğan, to commence investigations against a German satirist, Jan Böhmermann, prompting concerns about the German government’s commitment to free speech. However, In October 2016, prosecutors announced that charges would not be pursued against Böhmermann. Rights groups have documented a rise in hate speech via social media in Germany, with most of it targeted at non-Germans, refugees and LGBTI people.