German minister proposes tougher security laws after attacks

Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged last month to do everything humanly possible to keep Germany safe after recent terror attacks.

Berlin: Germany's interior minister on Thursday proposed stripping dual nationals who fight for extremist groups abroad of their German citizenship, and said he wants to make it easier to deport foreigners deemed to be dangerous.

Minister Thomas de Maiziere's list of proposals aimed at beefing up security in Germany following a recent string of attacks also included making "promoting terrorism" a criminal offence, and considering further reinforcements for security forces.

In addition, Germany will consider joining other countries in screening the public social media profiles of people being admitted to the country under humanitarian resettlement programs. And de Maiziere wants to strengthen German authorities' ability to probe the darknet, an area of cyberspace invisible on the open internet.

The minister proposed making it easier to take foreigners who have committed crimes or otherwise are deemed to be dangerous into pre-deportation custody, making "endangering public security" a ground for jailing them. That's meant to make it easier to ensure people who are obliged to leave the country actually do so.

Two of the attacks in a weeklong period starting July 18 - an ax rampage near Wuerzburg that wounded five and a suicide bombing that injured 15 outside a bar in Ansbach - were the first in Germany to be claimed by the Islamic State group. Both of the attackers, asylum-seekers who arrived over the past two years, were killed.

In two other attacks - a shooting by a German-Iranian 18-year-old in Munich that claimed 10 lives, including the assailant's, and the stabbing of a woman by a Syrian asylum-seeker at a restaurant in Reutlingen - the motive is still unclear but Islamic extremism is not suspected.

The attackers in Ansbach and Munich had received psychiatric treatment in the past.

De Maiziere said the government will discuss with doctors ways to "minimize dangers to citizens as far as possible" but stressed that patient confidentiality rules will be upheld.

In Germany, doctors can face a fine or up to a year in prison for breaching patient confidentiality, though existing rules already allow them to do so "in order to safeguard a higher-ranking legally protected interest."

Some members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's and de Maiziere's conservative party have called for further measures such as a ban on all-body veils worn by some Muslim women. De Maiziere made clear, however, that such a ban is "constitutionally problematic" and isn't on the cards.

"You can't ban everything that you reject," he said.

( Source : AP )
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