German police to set up hate crime unit

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Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) will set up a unit to investigate hate crimes to tackle growing right-wing extremism in the country, according to a nine-point government plan.

The move came after a right-wing extremist attacked a synagogue in eastern Germany’s Halle, killing two people near the building.

As part of the plan, online platforms will be obliged to inform the BKA unit of content containing death threats or incitement to violence. Local politicians, paramedics and emergency doctors are to receive stronger legal protection against attacks.

The plan also includes a provision that would impose tougher punishments for people who stalk others online and those who subject others to hate speech or abuse. The plan is still subject to approval by the German parliament, the Bundestag.

Right-wing extremist offenses in Germany rose to 8,605 in the first half of 2019, with an increase of 900 far-right crimes recorded during the same period this year, underscoring ongoing far-right violence.

Germany, like other Western countries, has watched with alarm as far-right attacks have increased in recent years as the political climate has coarsened and grown more polarized.

Regarding the growth of far-right extremism, the risk of becoming a victim of a hate crime is 10 times higher for immigrants residing in cities in eastern Germany, according to another study.

The loose and diverse far-right scene also includes members of the police. The German police have been shaken by an investigation into more police officers in the western state of Hesse concerning far-right extremist leanings.

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