FAt the very end of the draft law is the controversial passage: the comparison with the NSDAP thugs SA and SS during the Weimar period. It is one of the controversial aspects of an extensive amendment that is intended to redefine the right of assembly in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The government in the most populous state wants in the new one Gesetz anchor a "militancy ban". In future, uniformed, violent behavior with a militant-intimidating effect at demos will be banned. In the justification for the text of the law, examples are then reminded of “right-wing and left-wing extremist associations in the Weimar Republic”.
And in the next sentence the link is drawn to the present day, to the “black block” of the left-wing radical Antifa, to neo-Nazi groups with combat boots, marching kicks and also to “overalls of the same color” by climate activists, for example during the protests against lignite.
In the red-green-left spectrum, there is great outrage that climate activists are also being put in relation to the National Socialist troops. At the same time, the comparison serves as a motive for mobilization in one's own ranks. An alliance of more than 75 initiatives wants to stop the assembly law, flanked by the SPD and the Greens in the state parliament.
NRW Minister of the Interior Herbert Reul (CDU) as the initiator of the novella has once again become an enemy. Since Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) took office in 2017, the black and yellow state government Reul has put its own nationally visible stamp on domestic politics and is pushing ahead with his “zero tolerance” agenda.
A reformed assembly law, possibly the strictest nationwide, would be another milestone for him. “We are making a law here to enable gatherings and prevent disruption. Because there is a basic right to peaceful demonstrations and freedom of expression, but not to disturbance. And this is exactly where the law brings more legal certainty, ”says Reul WELT.
1500 demos in 2020 in Cologne
He cites a proposal by scientists for an amendment, which were funded by the SPD-affiliated Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, including a former judge of the Federal Constitutional Court. Reul is about creating clearer rules without restricting freedom of assembly. The Minister of the Interior recalls Article 8 of the Basic Law, according to which all Germans have the right “to assemble peacefully and without weapons without registration or permission”.
Demos make up a significant part of local police work, especially in large cities. Almost 2020 demos of various sizes took place in the area of responsibility of the Cologne Police Headquarters alone in 1500. The risk of malfunctions is seen as a growing problem. Most of the demos run smoothly, but the effort is considerable. And occasionally gatherings escalated in the pandemic, for example at demos of the so-called Lateral thinker.
The reasons for the draft law once again recall the problems after the First World War. “The Weimar Republic is also lacking Defensibility perished to protect against the will and / or the (in) ability to protect democracy and the republic in Germany against the violent, violent, permanently agitating and demonstrating in halls and on the street on the left and right fringes of the political spectrum. "
The historical reference makes it clear that Reul is also about a greater defensibility of the state, i.e. the police.
It is common practice for demos to be registered with the regulatory authorities in the respective municipality and for cooperation talks to be held between the organizers and the police in order to ensure an orderly process. However, there are no express regulations so far - the law is intended to change that, among other things.
More regulation of demonstrators
It is planned to regulate the registrants and participants of demonstrations more strictly and to make it easier for regulatory authorities to intervene. For example, a “disruption ban” should be anchored. Then the police could take action against troublemakers more easily.
This also applies to counter-demonstrations. The possibility of prohibiting public gatherings in closed rooms or of requiring the presence of police officers if there is a risk of unpeaceful progress is also mentioned.
A legal obligation for demonstrators to participate is expressly denied, after all, according to the Basic Law, people can meet spontaneously even without registration and cooperation. However, the willingness to participate in decisions on restrictions and bans can be taken into account.
Registrants can face fines and imprisonment if the event goes significantly different than announced. If there are any indications of a danger to public safety, the organizer should inform the authorities of the names and addresses of the designated stewards upon request.
The SPD and the Greens consider a new regulation of the Assembly Act to be necessary, but reject Reul's draft. The Social Democrats complain that this is intended to prevent demos and has presented an alternative draft. According to the Greens, Reul’s reform is dominated by the “hazard prevention approach”. The draft sees assemblies "a potential threat to public safety". Legal experts in a hearing underpinned this criticism.
Public pressure recently intensified when, at the end of June, police officers in Düsseldorf took action against parts of a demo that was protesting against the planned assembly law. The reason for the intervention was an anti-fascist bloc, which the police defined as a source of unrest and danger. Reul basically justified the police action. Indeed he also called mistakes, for example that minors were surrounded for hours, there were insufficient opportunities to go to the toilet and a journalist got caught between the fronts.
The position of the FDP coalition partner is likely to be decisive for the draft law. Reul's draft is generally supported, but there are suggestions for correction. When asked by WELT, the domestic political spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Marc Lürbke, mentioned several aspects for the first time. "For us it is clear: The new regulations in the assembly law must not create a deterrent effect for participation in demonstrations," Lürbke emphasized.
One wants to strengthen the freedom of assembly. In contrast to the present draft law, “for example, at the control points of demonstrations, the identity of the participants in the assembly should only be able to be determined if actually prohibited items such as weapons, protective equipment or suitable for masking Means to be found ”.
The FDP is "very critical" of the expanded powers of the police to record images and sound in closed rooms as well as covert recordings.
The Free Democrats consider the planned “militancy ban” to be correct, albeit with restrictions: “An extension of this militancy ban to other public events in the open air, such as football lifts, appears to us to be irrelevant in the law and therefore too far-reaching,” explained Lürbke.
In the parliamentary procedure, the FDP wants to discuss their ideas for change with the CDU and submit corresponding proposals. Here, too, an old wisdom should come into play: No bill comes out of parliament in the way it was introduced.