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Title:  Germany Human Rights Practices, 1995 
Author:  U.S. Department of State  
Date:  March 1996  
 
 
 
 
                                    GERMANY 
 
 
The Federal Republic of Germany is a constitutional parliamentary 
democracy with an independent judiciary; citizens periodically choose 
their representatives in free and fair multiparty elections.  The head 
of the Federal Government, the Chancellor, is elected by the lower house 
of Parliament.  The powers of the Chancellor and of the Parliament are 
set forth in the Basic Law (Constitution).  The 16 states enjoy 
significant autonomy, especially as concerns law enforcement and the 
courts, education, the environment, and social assistance. 
 
Law enforcement is primarily a responsibility of state governments, and 
the police are organized at the state level.  The jurisdiction of the 
Federal Criminal Office is limited to international organized crime, 
especially narcotics trafficking, weapons smuggling, and currency 
counterfeiting.  Police forces in general are well trained, disciplined, 
and mindful of citizens' rights, although there were occasional 
instances of police abuse. 
 
Germany's highly advanced economy affords its residents a high standard 
of living.  The economy has been growing over the past 2 years, 
recovering from a deep recession earlier in the decade which followed 
the postreunification boom.  This growth, however, has resulted in an 
only gradual reduction of unemployment through mid-1995.  In the East, 
where economic integration and growth continued particularly strongly, 
employment has increased more noticeably than in the West.  Nonetheless, 
overall unemployment in eastern Germany remains significantly higher 
than in the country's western half as the region continues to grapple 
with adjustment to free market conditions.  Unemployment in the East 
affects women disproportionately more than men. 
 
The Government fully respects the human rights of its citizens, and the 
law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with instances of 
individual abuse.  However, there were instances of admitted police 
abuse of prisoners, frequently foreigners.  Although violence or 
harassment directed at foreigners continued to occur within society as a 
whole, the number of incidents declined markedly, as was the case in 
1994.  Official data show that the number of violent offenses of all 
kinds by rightwing extremists decreased by 14 percent in the first 6 
months of 1995 compared with the same period in 1994.  Rightwing 
violence against foreigners decreased by 27 percent.  Rightwing 
extremist violence rose sharply after German unification but peaked in 
1992 and has since been declining.  Still, there were a significant 
number of attacks on property or persons, and foreigners were the 
victims somewhat more often than not. 
 
Anti-Semitic incidents increased but remained few in absolute terms.  
Most involved graffiti or distribution of anti-Semitic materials.  The 
synagogue in Luebeck, firebombed in 1994, was subjected to another arson 
attack on May 7, but the alleged perpetrator was apparently not acting 
for political or anti-Semitic reasons.  The overwhelming majority of the 
perpetrators of attacks on foreigners or anti-Semitic acts were 
frustrated, apolitical youths and a small core of neo-Nazis.  All the 
major political parties and all the highest officials of the Federal 
Republic denounced violence against foreigners and anti-Semitic acts. 
 
Women continue to face wage discrimination in the private sector.  The 
Government is taking serious steps to address violence against women. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
  a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings. 
 
Some murders occurred among rival factions of Iranians, Kurds, Turks, 
and other foreign nationals.  The federal and state authorities sought 
to find and prosecute the perpetrators of such crimes and pressed 
charges in several trials. 
 
  b.  Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. 
 
  c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
Torture is not mentioned in the Basic Law, but it is forbidden by law. 
 
There continue to be serious allegations of police brutality against 
foreigners.  Hamburg officials instituted investigations of over 80 
police and other officials for possible mistreatment of arrested 
foreigners; 16 were eventually charged.  The Hamburg chief of police 
went into early retirement shortly thereafter.  A policeman charged with 
mistreating an Iraqi asylum seeker during the 1994 Ascension Sunday 
antiforeigner violence in Magdeburg was found innocent. 
 
Prison conditions meet minimum international standards, and the 
Government permits visits by human rights monitors. 
 
  d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The Basic Law prohibits arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, and the 
Government observes this prohibition.  To make an arrest, police must 
obtain a judicial warrant.  By the day after arrest, police must bring 
the suspect before a judge and lodge a charge.  The court must then 
either issue a warrant stating the grounds for detention or order the 
person's release. 
 
There is no preventive detention.  If there is evidence that the suspect 
might flee the country, police may detain the suspect for up to 24 hours 
pending a formal charge   The right of free access to legal counsel has 
been restricted only in the cases of terrorists suspected of having used 
contacts with lawyers to continue terrorist activity while in prison.  
Only judges may decide on the validity of any deprivation of liberty.  
Bail exists but is seldom employed; the usual practice is to release 
detainees unless there is clear danger of flight outside the country.  
There is no use of forced exile. 
 
  e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The Basic Law provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent 
judiciary vigorously enforces this right.  The court system is highly 
developed and provides full legal protection and numerous possibilities 
for judicial review.  Ordinary courts have jurisdiction in criminal and 
civil matters.  There are four levels of such courts (local courts, 
regional courts, higher regional courts, and the federal Court of 
Justice), with appeals possible from lower to higher levels.  In 
addition, there are four types of specialized courts:  administrative, 
labor, social, and fiscal courts.  These courts are also established on 
different levels, with the possibility for appeal at the next higher 
level. 
 
Separate from these five branches of jurisdiction is the Federal 
Constitutional Court, which is not only the country's Supreme Court but 
an organ of the Constitution with special functions defined in the Basic 
Law.  Among other things, it reviews laws to ensure their compatibility 
with the Constitution and adjudicates disputes between constitutional 
organs on questions of competencies.  It also has jurisdiction to hear 
and decide a claim based on the infringement of a person's basic 
constitutional rights by a public authority.  The judiciary provides 
citizens with a fair and efficient judicial process. 
 
There were no reports of political prisoners. 
 
  f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The Basic Law prohibits such practices, government authorities generally 
respect these prohibitions, and violations are subject to effective 
legal sanction. 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
  a.  Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Basic Law provides for freedom of the press, and the Government 
respects this right in practice.  There is no official censorship.  An 
independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic 
political system, combine to ensure freedom of speech and the press, 
including academic freedom.  Nazi propaganda and that of other 
proscribed organizations are illegal.  Statements endorsing Nazism are 
also illegal.  Several persons were indicted for making statements or 
distributing materials that were alleged to fall into these categories, 
including two American citizens, one of whom was said to be the producer 
of the majority of neo-Nazi material imported into Germany. 
 
  b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The law provides for these rights, and the Government respects them in 
practice. 
 
The Basic Law permits banning political parties found to be 
"fundamentally antidemocratic."  A 1950's ruling by the Federal 
Constitutional Court outlawed a neo-Nazi and a Communist party.  State 
governments may outlaw only organizations that are active solely within 
their state.  If a group's activities cross state lines, the Federal 
Government assumes jurisdiction. 
 
Four far-right political groups, not organized as political parties, 
were banned in late 1992.  The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), along with 
35 subsidiary organizations, was banned in 1993.  Also in 1993, the 
Federal Government asked the Constitutional Court to ban the far-right 
Free German Workers' Party; the Court's decision was still pending at 
year's end.  Several extremist parties were under observation by the 
Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BFV, the internal 
security service), although such monitoring may by law not interfere 
with the organizations' continued activities.  The BFV reported that 
56,600 people belonged to far-right organizations in 1994, of whom some 
5,600 were considered violence-prone. 
 
  c.  Freedom of Religion 
 
The Basic Law specifically provides for religious freedom.  The 
Government fully supports religious freedom.  Most of the population 
belongs to the Catholic or Protestant Churches.  These denominations and 
the small Jewish community hold a special legal status as corporate 
bodies under public law, giving them, for instance, the right to 
participate in a state-administered church tax system.  State 
governments subsidize church-affiliated schools and provide religious 
instruction in schools and universities for those belonging to the 
Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish faith. 
 
Members of the Church of Scientology continue to allege both social and 
government-condoned harassment, such as being fired from a job or 
expelled from (or not permitted to join) a political party.  Major 
German political parties exclude Scientologists from membership, arguing 
that Scientology is not a religion but a for-profit organization, whose 
goals and principles are inconsistent with those of the political 
parties.  Business firms whose owners or executives belong to the Church 
of Scientology may face boycotts and discrimination, sometimes with 
governmental approval.  Artists have been prevented from performing or 
displaying their works because of their Scientology membership.  Public 
criticism of Scientologists by leading political figures increased 
during the year, with one Cabinet member publicly stating that 
Scientologists were unfit to serve as teachers, police officers, or 
professors.  Scientologists continued to take such grievances to court, 
and the courts have frequently ruled in their favor. 
 
  d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
Citizens are free to move anywhere within the country, to travel abroad, 
to emigrate, and to repatriate, without restrictions that violate human 
rights. 
 
For ethnic Germans entering the country, the Basic Law provides both for 
citizenship immediately upon application and for legal residence without 
restrictions.  Persons not of German ethnicity may acquire citizenship 
(and with it the right of unrestricted residence) if they meet certain 
requirements, including legal residence for at least 10 years (5 if 
married to a German), renunciation of all other citizenships, and a 
basic command of the language.  Long-term legal residents often opt not 
to apply; they receive the same social benefits as do citizens, and 
after 10 years of legal residency they are entitled to permanent 
residency.  Representatives of the Turkish and Roma communities in 
Germany have criticized the citizenship policy as unjust and 
discriminatory and have opposed the policy against dual nationality. 
 
The Basic Law provides for the right of foreign victims of political 
persecution to attain asylum in Germany.  However, since an amendment of 
the asylum law took effect on July 1, 1993, tightening the criteria for 
granting asylum, applications have dropped sharply.  Applications in 
1994 were fewer than in any year since 1989, and this trend continues. 
 
Under the tightened criteria, persons coming directly from any country 
that officials designate as a "safe country of origin" cannot normally 
claim political asylum, but may request an administrative review of 
their applications while in Germany.  Persons entering via a "safe third 
country"--any country in the European Union or adhering to the Geneva 
Convention--are also ineligible for asylum. 
 
The legislated changes also limited legal recourse against denials of 
asylum applications.  Critics argue that few countries can assuredly be 
designated as "safe third countries" and that the law unjustly fails to 
allow applicants to rebut such designations.  While the law permits 
appeals against designations of "safe countries of origin," critics 
protest that the 48-hour period allotted for hearings is too brief. 
 
Asylum seekers with applications under review enjoy virtually the full 
range of civil rights except the right to vote.  While less than 5 
percent of applicants have attained political asylum, denial does not 
automatically result in deportation.  Most rejected applicants are 
allowed to remain in the country for humanitarian reasons, especially 
those from the former Yugoslavia. 
 
Applicants who have been conclusively denied asylum are placed in 
detention pending deportation.  Some police detention facilities, 
particularly in Berlin, are overcrowded or otherwise seriously 
substandard. 
 
On July 12, Germany signed an agreement with Vietnam on development aid 
which included funds for the repatriation of Vietnamese citizens living 
illegally in Germany.  The plan calls for up to 300 illegal residents to 
be deported every month, but the two countries have not worked out 
detailed mechanisms for the procedure, and only 30 have been deported as 
of December 1.  The Government has said it will begin with illegal 
immigrants, rejected asylum seekers, and convicted criminals. 
 
Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
The Basic Law provides citizens with the right to peacefully change 
their government, and citizens exercise this right in practice through 
periodic, free, and fair elections.  The Government is elected on the 
basis of universal suffrage and secret balloting.  Members of the 
Parliament's lower house, the Bundestag, are elected from a mixture of 
direct-constituency and party-list candidates.  The upper house, the 
Bundesrat, is composed of delegations from state governments. 
 
The law entitles women to participate fully in political life, and a 
growing number are prominent in the Government and the parties, but 
women are still substantially underrepresented in those ranks.  Slightly 
over 26 percent of the Federal Parliament is female, including its 
President.  Women occupy 3 of 16 cabinet positions.  One state minister 
president is a woman.  On the Federal Constitutional Court, 4 of the 16 
judges are women, including the Chief Justice.  All of the parties have 
undertaken to enlist more women.  The Greens/Alliance 90 Party requires 
that women comprise half of the party's elected officials.  The Social 
Democrats have a 40-percent quota for women on all party committees and 
governing bodies.  The Christian Democrats voted at their October 
convention not to mandate a one-third quota. 
 
Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
A wide variety of human rights groups operate without government 
restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights 
cases.  Government officials are very cooperative and responsive to 
their views. 
 
Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The law prohibits denial of access to shelter, health care, or education 
on the basis of race, religion, disability, sex, ethnic background, 
political opinion, or citizenship.  The Government enforces the law 
effectively. 
 
  Women 
 
While violence against women occurs and is almost certainly 
underreported, it is prohibited by laws which are effectively enforced.  
It is condemned in society, and legal and medical recourse is available.  
Trafficking in women and forced prostitution is forbidden by law as 
well.  The laws against trafficking in women were modified in 1992 to 
deal more effectively with problems stemming from the opening of 
Germany's eastern borders.  In recent years, the Federal Ministry for 
Women and Youth commissioned a number of studies to gain information on 
violence against women, sexual harassment, and other matters, producing 
for example a special report on violence against women in 1995. 
 
Germany has been a party to the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of 
All Forms of Discrimination against Women since 1985 and supported the 
appointment of a special rapporteur on violence against women at the 
U.N. Human Rights Commission.  The Government has conducted campaigns in 
the schools and through church groups to bring public attention to the 
existence of such violence and proposed steps to counter it.  The 
Federal Government has supported numerous pilot projects throughout 
Germany.  There are, for example, 330 "women's houses" in Germany, over 
100 in the new states in the east, where victims of violence and their 
children can seek shelter, counseling, and legal and police protection.  
Police statistics on rape showed a 4.4 percent decrease to 6,095 cases 
in 1994 (latest data) from 6,376 in 1993. 
 
  Children 
 
The Government is committed to protection of children's rights, and 
there is no culturally based pattern of abuse of human rights of 
children in Germany.  The Government nevertheless recognizes that 
violence against children is a problem requiring its attention.  Police 
figures indicate there were 15,096 reported cases of sexual abuse of 
children in 1994 (latest available figures), down slightly from 1993.  
Officials believe that the numbers of unreported cases may be much 
higher.  The Child and Youth Protection Law stresses the need for 
preventive measures, and the Ministry for the Family, Senior Citizens, 
Women and Youth has taken account of this in stepping up its counseling 
and other assistance. 
 
The Criminal Code was amended in 1993 to further protect children 
against pornography and sexual abuse.  For possession of child 
pornography, the maximum sentence is 1 year's imprisonment; for 
distribution, 5 years'.  The amendment made sexual abuse of children by 
German citizens abroad punishable even if the action is not illegal in 
the child's own country. 
 
  People with Disabilities 
 
There is no discrimination against the disabled in employment, 
education, or in the provision of other state services.  The law 
mandates several special services for disabled persons, and the 
Government enforces these provisions in practice.  The disabled are 
entitled to assistance to avert, eliminate, or alleviate the 
consequences of their disabilities and to secure employment commensurate 
with their abilities.  The Government offers vocational training and 
grants for employers who hire the handicapped.  The severely disabled 
may be granted special benefits, such as tax breaks, free public 
transport, special parking facilities, and exemption from radio and 
television fees. 
 
The Federal Government has established guidelines for attainment of 
"barrier-free" public buildings and for modifications of streets and 
pedestrian traffic walks to accommodate the disabled.  While it is up to 
the individual states to incorporate these guidelines into building 
codes, all 16 states now have access facilities for the handicapped. 
 
  National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
Police data show the number of violent offenses by rightwing extremists 
decreased by 14 percent in the first 6 months of 1995 compared with the 
same period in 1994, continuing a downtrend since 1992.  Rightwing 
violence against foreigners declined by 27 percent.  As in previous 
years, most of these offenses were directed against foreign residents, 
but the decline in xenophobic offenses since 1993 continued to be 
steeper than in other kinds of manifestations of rightwing extremist 
violence.  Eight American exchange students of Asian descent were 
attacked and slightly injured by right wingers in July in Merseburg.  
Charges have been brought in this case, but the trial had not convened 
by year's end. 
 
Ethnic Turks continue to credibly complain about societal and job-
related discrimination.  Pro-Kurdish demonstrations led to injuries of 
47 policemen and 3 demonstrators in Frankfurt in July.  Isolated 
firebombing incidents occurred during this same period targeting Turkish 
businesses establishments.  There have been no arrests in connection 
with these firebombings. 
 
The Karlsruhe Regional Court sentenced NPD Chairman Guenther Dickert to 
2 years' imprisonment in April in connection with denial of the 
holocaust. 
 
Since late 1993, officials and courts have generally dealt with 
extremist crimes more vigorously than previously.  On October 13, a 
Dusseldorf court sentenced four men in the May 1993 arson murders of 
five Turks, the worst killing in the wave of rightwing violence since 
reunification.  Markus Gartmann was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment 
for killing two women and three girls--all members of the same family--
in a firebomb attack in the town of Solingen.  Three accomplices tried 
as juveniles received maximum sentences of 10 years. 
 
Perpetrators of rightwing violence were predominantly young, male, and 
low in socioeconomic status, often committing such acts while 
inebriated.  As in the past, most acts of violence against minority 
groups were committed spontaneously.  As in the past, there was evidence 
that neo-Nazi groups continue to make efforts for greater coordination 
among themselves. 
 
In addition to voicing condemnation of the violence, the Government 
recommended tougher anticrime legislation and law-enforcement measures, 
as well as measures aimed at the  
 
societal roots of extremist violence and other crime.  In the eastern 
states, governments introduced several model, social and educational 
programs designed to counteract the root causes of xenophobia and 
intolerance.  Eastern state governments also undertook efforts to 
reinvigorate enforcement of laws against violence by extremists.  For 
such projects, however, state governments have thus far allocated only 
limited funds in their tight budgets. 
 
The police in the eastern states continued to become better versed in 
the federal legal system, better trained, and more experienced, and by 
year's end they began to achieve the standards of effectiveness 
characteristic of police in the rest of Germany.  Certainly the level of 
rightwing activity in the new states continued to decrease, and the 
police and state officials showed greater coordination in moving quickly 
and effectively to prevent illegal rightwing and neo-Nazi gatherings and 
demonstrations. 
 
Sinti and Romani leaders expressed satisfaction at the signing by the 
Government of the Council of Europe Convention on Minorities.  Germany 
submitted an interpretation of the Convention in which Sinti and Roma 
were explicitly mentioned as ethnic minorities in Germany, providing 
them the recognition which they had long sought. 
 
  Religious Minorities 
 
Anti-Semitic acts increased, with 634 incidents reported in the first 6 
months of 1995.  Over 90 percent of these anti-Semitic incidents 
involved graffiti, the distribution of anti-Semitic materials, or the 
display of symbols of banned organizations.  The most significant act 
was the firebombing of the 100-year-old synagogue in Luebeck on May 7, 
the second such attack in 14 months.  Although the building was occupied 
at the time of the attack, there were no casualties.  There have been no 
arrests in this case.  Three perpetrators of the 1994 attack were 
convicted in April and sentenced to 4 years' and 6 months' imprisonment.  
A fourth perpetrator received a prison sentence of 2 years and 6 months.  
A suspect in the 1995 attack was apprehended in September, and there is 
evidence that the motivation for the attack may not have been anti-
Semitic in origin. 
 
Section 6  Worker Rights 
 
  a.  The Right of Association 
 
The right to associate freely, choose representatives, determine 
programs and policies to represent workers' interests, and publicize 
views is recognized and freely exercised.  Some 37 percent of the total 
eligible labor force belong to unions.  The German Trade Union 
Federation (DGB) represents 85 percent of organized workers and 
participates in various international and European trade union 
organizations. 
 
The law provides for the right to strike, except for civil servants 
(including teachers) and personnel in sensitive positions, such as 
members of the armed forces.  In the past, the International Labor 
Organization (ILO) has criticized the Government's definition of 
"essential services" as overly broad.  The ILO was responding to 
complaints about sanctions imposed on teachers who struck in the state 
of Hesse in 1989 and, earlier, the replacement of striking postal 
workers by civil servants.  In neither case did permanent job loss 
result.  The ILO continues to seek clarifications from the Government on 
policies and laws governing labor rights of civil servants. 
 
  b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
The Basic Law provides for the right to organize and bargain 
collectively, and this right is widely exercised.  Due to a well-
developed system of autonomous contract negotiations, mediation is 
uncommon.  Basic wages and working conditions are negotiated at the 
industry level and then are adapted, through local collective 
bargaining, to particular enterprises. 
 
However, some firms in eastern Germany have refused to join employer 
associations, or have withdrawn from them, and then bargained 
independently with workers.  Likewise, some large firms in the west 
withdrew at least part of their work force from the jurisdiction of 
employer associations, complaining of rigidities in the centralized 
negotiating system.  They have not, however, refused to bargain as 
individual enterprises.  The law mandates a system of works councils and 
worker membership on supervisory boards, and thus workers participate in 
the management of the enterprises in which they work.  The law 
thoroughly protects workers against antiunion discrimination. 
 
There are no export processing zones. 
 
  c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
The Basic Law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and there were no 
known violations. 
 
  d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
Federal law generally prohibits employment of children under age 15, 
with a few exceptions:  those age 13 or 14 may do farm work for up to 3 
hours per day or may deliver newspapers for up to 2 hours per day; those 
ages 3 to 14 may take part in cultural performances, albeit under 
stringent curbs on the kinds of activity, number of hours, and time of 
day.  The Federal Labor Ministry effectively enforces the law through 
its Factory Inspection Bureau. 
 
  e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
There is no legislated or administratively determined minimum wage.  
Wages and salaries are set either by collective bargaining agreements 
between industrial unions and employer federations or by individual 
contracts.  Covering about 90 percent of all wage- and salary-earners, 
these agreements set minimum pay rates and are legally enforceable.  
These minimums provide an adequate standard of living for workers and 
their families.  The number of hours of work per week is regulated by 
contracts that directly or indirectly affect 80 percent of the working 
population.  The average workweek for industrial workers is 36 hours in 
western Germany and about 39 hours in the eastern states. 
 
An extensive set of laws and regulations on occupational safety and 
health incorporates a growing body of European Union standards.  These 
provide for the right to refuse to perform dangerous or unhealthy work 
without jeopardizing employment.  A comprehensive system of worker-
insurance carriers enforces safety requirements in the workplace.  This 
system now applies in the eastern states, where lax standards and 
conditions under the Communist regime created serious problems.  The 
Labor Ministry and its counterparts in the states effectively enforce 
occupational safety and health standards through a network of government 
organs, including the Federal Institute for Work Safety.  At the local 
level, professional and trade associations--self-governing public 
corporations with delegates both from the employers and from the unions-
-oversee worker safety. 
 
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