Proposed Foreign Intelligence Law threatens media freedoms

Expression

The Foreign Intelligence Agency bill (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND), proposed by Germany's Federal Government for parliamentary debate on 28th June, does not contain enough protective provisions for journalists, and would allow the intelligence services to place foreign reporters under surveillance. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, said that the amendments contained in the BND bill pose a threat to media freedom, and called on the Bundestag to revise it. Led by Reporters Without Borders, an international alliance of human-rights organisations, journalists’ associations and media outlets also launched a global campaign to protect foreign journalists from surveillance by the German Federal Intelligence Agency. The draft law had its first reading in the German Parliament on 8th July and is currently pending approval.

Peaceful Assembly

On 30th July, thousands of people across Germany protested against Angela Merkel's open-door policy towards migrants and refugees, blaming it for the recent terrorist attacks in the country. The march was organised by a coalition of German anti-immigrant groups and took place under heavy police presence. In Berlin, several hundred people counter-demonstrated against the anti-migrant protest, also with a strong police contingent.

On 31st July, around 50,000 people marched through Cologne in support of Turkish President Erdogan, after the attempted coup against him on 15th July. About 3,000 police were deployed, ensuring the demonstration remained peaceful and that counter-demonstrations could also take place. On the eve of the event, the German Constitutional Court had banned the broadcasting of President Erdogan's speech at the rally, and Turkish authorities criticised the decision stating that this prohibition was an unacceptable violation of the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly.