Sunday 18 March 2018

Germany announces new anti-terror measures but stops short of banning the burka

Angela Merkel: under fire. Photo: AP Photo/Michael Sohn
Angela Merkel: under fire. Photo: AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Justin Huggler

Germany will strip dual nationals who fight for militant groups abroad of their citizenship and make it much easier to deport foreigners under new anti-terror measures.

But Thomas de Maiziere, the interior minister, has rejected calls for a ban on burkas or an outright end to dual citizenship.

"No one can guarantee absolute security, but we have to do all we can," Mr de Maiziere said, announcing the new package of measures, which has been prompted by two terror attacks in Germany last month, claimed by Isil.

The measures include a commitment to create thousands of new police posts and changes to make it easier to deport asylum-seekers and foreign nationals involved in crime or violence.

"I propose that German citizens who fight for terror groups in other countries and take part in combat operations, if they have a second nationality, and only then, should lose their German citizenship," Mr de Maiziere said.

But he stopped short of demands from senior figures in his and Angela Merkel's Christians Democrat party (CDU) to end dual citizenship altogether. And he rejected outright calls for a ban on women wearing burkas or full-face veils.

The rules under which asylum-seekers and foreign nationals can be deported will be radically changed under the measures announced by Mr de Maiziere yesterday.

For the first time, those considered a "danger to public safety" will face deportation even if they have not been found guilty of any crime. The authorities will also be able to detain those under a deportation order until they can be removed from the country.

Mr de Maiziere stopped short of announcing an expected relaxation of medical-confidentiality laws to make it easier for doctors to report patients who might be a danger to the public.

But he said he would discuss with doctors ways to make this possible.

He also said he would increase monitoring of the so-called 'dark net' area of the internet after a teenage far-right gunman who killed eight people in a shooting in Munich last month obtained an illegal gun there.

Meanwhile, Belgium has announced that police may be given greater freedom for off-duty officers to carry weapons amid growing concern for their safety after an Islamist attack on two policewomen on Saturday.

Under the new proposals, officers would be allowed to carry "more efficient" weapons with them at all times.

Police unions have pressed the government to do more to ensure their safety, given terror attacks in Belgium and elsewhere.

A number of guidelines will also be issued to better protect police stations.

The proposal has not yet been formally approved by royal decree but is expected to be in place within the next six months.

In Saturday's incident, a 33-year-old Algerian attacked two female police officers with a machete, inflicting serious head-and-neck wounds on one of them. The attack was the latest in a barrage of terror incidents in Europe in recent months.

Irish Independent

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