GFF and partners lodge constitutional complaint against BayPAG
The GFF has lodged a constitutional complaint with the German Constitutional Court against the Bavarian Police Tasks Act (BayPAG), joined by the #noPAG alliance, an association of over 80 civil society organizations, and the Campact citizens’ movement. The complaint is directed against the Act’s amendment of May 15, 2018, which introduced an unconstitutional extension of police powers. The police can now intervene prior to obtaining concrete evidence of a threat to security. The amendment further imposes new competences for online searches and other monitoring operations. The constitutional complaint was filed with the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe on October 4, 2018.
This BayPAG reform endows the Bavarian police with quasi secret service powers. The conditions for interferences with civil rights are significantly lowered, thus promoting preventive action by the police.
Central term of the law is the so-called “impending danger”, meaning that the police is allowed to encroach on civil rights in various ways when merely assuming that a dangerous situation could develop — which can virtually always be justified. As a result, police measures are no longer tied to any verifiable prerequisites. The term “impending danger” was coined by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2016 in the context of a decision concerning the defense against terrorist threats. In its decision, the court expressly referred to individual cases that pose a risk to an “outstandingly important legal asset.” By contrast, applying the term to all police work places citizens under general suspicion and is clearly unconstitutional.
In addition, the reform contains a number of questionable measures that the police may now use. These include the use of hand grenades, extended DNA analyses, the facilitated use of body cams, drones and video cameras, the use of undercover investigators, the access to email and data in cloud memories and the state’s use of trojan malware to spy on IT systems.
GFF’s focus: Violations of civil rights by the state
GFF regards the BayPAG amendments as a clear violation of civil rights by the state. The reform introduced by the Bavarian legislators are structurally totalitarian: The police can ultimately decide to do what they think is right. Civil servants are thus encouraged to take arbitrary police measures at the expense of citizens. This is incompatible with a constitutional state where the power of the executive is limited and controlled by the courts.
Since basically anyone who regularly spends time in Bavaria can be affected by the amendments in BayPAG, we chose plaintiffs from the middle of civil society. Among them are also three attorneys and a doctor, who see themselves limited in pursuing their professions by BayPAG. GFF has chosen the plaintiffs together with the noPAG alliance.
Further information (in German):
- The constitutional complaint, drafted by PD Dr. Mathias Hong and attorney Hartmut Wächtler, is online here.
- The FAQ will be published here shortly.
- In addition, you can retrace the advancing radicalization of the police law in our synopsis: it contrasts the versions before August 1, 2017, after August 1, 2017, the draft law from January 2018 and the amendments introduced by the CSU.
- Impressions right from Bavaria you can find on the homepage of the noPAG alliance.
Press coverage (in German):
Here you can find our current press release.
Find the current press review here.
Here you can access our invitation to the press conference on October 5, 2018.
In 2017, GFF has already coordinated another action before the Federal Constitutional Court against the powers of the Bavarian Domestic Intelligence Service. Find more information about the case here.
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