Germany to Present Raft of Security Measures After July Attacks

BERLIN (Reuters) -
Cameramen film at the scene where a man was shot dead by the police after attacking passengers on a train with an axe near the city of Wuerzburg, Germany July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Cameramen at the scene where a man was shot dead by police after attacking train passengers with an ax, near the city of Wuerzburg, Germany, July 19. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Germany’s interior minister will propose a raft of new security measures, including speedier deportations of foreign nationals, following a spate of attacks in July that shook the nation, German media reported on Wednesday.

In five separate attacks between July 18 to July 26, 15 people were killed and dozens wounded. Two of the attacks were claimed by the Islamic State terror group and three of the attackers were asylum-seekers.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere will announce the new measures on Thursday and plans to have them adopted in the current legislative period, the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper cited coalition sources as saying. That would mean the proposal becomes law before Germany’s next federal election, slated for autumn 2017.

The new measures include speeding up deportations of foreign potential attackers and criminals, and the introduction of a new reason for deportation: “danger to public safety,” the Bild daily reported, citing security sources.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry declined to comment but said de Maiziere would present his plans on Thursday.

In the past year Germany has taken in more than one million migrants and refugees (most of them Muslims fleeing conflicts or poverty in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa) stoking fears among some Germans of an increased threat from Islamist terrorists.

The Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger said the new legislation would also facilitate data retention and limit how long migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected can stay in Germany.

The proposed law could also allow doctors, in certain cases, to break confidentiality and inform the authorities if their patients confide in them about any planned crimes, Bild reported. The president of the German Medical Association firmly rejected this idea.

The measures build on a nine-point plan to improve security announced by Chancellor Angela Merkel in the wake of the attacks, the paper said.

Separately, the interior ministers of Germany’s federal states belonging to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Bavarian allies, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have put forward a list of 27 demands to improve Germany’s security. These include hiring an additional 15,000 police by 2020 and greater video surveillance at transport hubs and public places, according to a copy of the draft document seen by Reuters.

The ministers also call for a ban on the full body veil for women and for revoking laws that allow for dual nationality – measures that are likely to prove controversial.

The demands, in advance of a meeting of the state ministers and de Maiziere on Aug. 18, will put additional pressure on Merkel’s government to tighten security legislation.

The spokesman for the federal Interior Ministry said the document, which is called the ‘Berlin declaration,’ is still under discussion.