Between 2014 and 2019 – even before the racially motivated acts in Hanau and Halle – the Anti-Discrimination Committee of the Council of Europe (ECRI) observed developments concerning racism in Germany. The [result is sobering](/static/downloads/DEU-CBC-VI-2020-002-ENG-color version.pdf “ECRI REPORT ON GERMANY”): increasing racism and Islamophobia, too little trust in the police, far too little information work and “worries” about the Alternative for Germany (AfD). In its Report, the ECRI also warns of increasing far-right attacks and recommends more support and powers for the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency. The major Swiss media have not reported on the report so far.
The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, has the task of monitoring human rights in its 47 member states. For this purpose, various expert groups are in use, which regularly examine the state of affairs in the individual member states.
Too little enlightenment work
One of the central points of the report is educational work in institutions. According to the authors of the study, Germany must implement mandatory courses against racism and discrimination, especially in schools, universities and the police. “You have to go to universities with mandatory courses against racism and discrimination, from where most employees of ministries and authorities come,” said Reetta Toivanen, an author of the ECRI report of the news agency dpa.
In addition, the report calls on the federal states to include the topics of “human rights” and “equal treatment” in their respective education laws and in their compulsory curricula.
Police: right-wing extremists in their own ranks
In the police, mandatory courses are particularly important to counter Racial Profiling. “Although there is sufficient evidence for extensive Racial Profiling, many police services and representatives are unaware of it or deny its existence,” the Report says. Victims of discriminatory and racist violence often did not trust the German police, Toivanen explained. There was a lack of trust.
That parts of the police in Germany have a problem with racism and right-wing extremism was already known before the ECRI report – even if the incidents were often dismissed as isolated cases. Many officials have in the past been associated with the far-right camp, some of whom have been arrested for belonging to far-right groups, hoarding weapons and planning attacks. Others were suspended or face disciplinary proceedings for playing “Sieg Heil"shouts over their radios in front of a synagogue, for using unconstitutional license plates or for being members of far-right Chat groups.
A federal police officer appeared for an assignment at a right-wing rock concert with a patch, which is also used in the scene. In 2019, 40 police officers were investigated in Hesse, among other things, because they shared far-right ideas. A shooting instructor from Saxony is said to have told his students that they had to learn to aim – because of the “many guests”. A sticker of the far-right “Identitarian movement"was emblazoned on a police van in Duisburg.
The number of cases increases
The list is much longer, there are many examples: police officers provided private data of people who fight against racism and further police information to far-right extremists. 37 police officers sent a threatening letter to a lawyer and signed it with “NSU 2.0”. Nine policemen were photographed in front of a right-wing Grafitto, and when the lettering was removed, the letters stood for scene-clearing. One policeman played a song by the Hitler Youth, another refused access to his office to a headscarf wearer who wanted to file a complaint. In North Rhine-Westphalia, four citizens of the Reich were discovered by the police. Other police officers are members of the far-right wing of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). During a raid against suspected right-wing extremists, police officers left evidence at the scene and did not find it again.
In 2019, the “Deutschlandfunk” made corresponding inquiries to the interior ministries of the federal states and subsequently wrote under the title “too many individual cases” of 200 cases of right-wing extremism in the German police apparatus. The “Deutschlandfunk” describes its research as “very incomplete”, since there is hardly any reliable information. What is clear is that the numbers of cases are increasing.
“Expand anti-discrimination agency”
The report of the ECRI praises Angela Merkel and other politicians, as they have clearly positioned themselves against far-right acts. However, this is not enough. Police and constitutional protection should specifically promote an exit from extreme circles. Furthermore, the mandate of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency had to be broader. The position was not only underfunded, it also lacked basic victim support and legal authority.
In addition, the authors of the report warned of an increase in xenophobic attacks – which they should be right. Above all, the degree of Islamophobia is increasing, the constant Islamophobic and xenophobic discourse of the extreme right is also increasingly having an impact on the general political discourse. Racism is particularly evident in two sub-organisations of a new party, says the report. This refers to the right-wing National “Wing” and the “young Alternative” of the AfD, both of which are now officially regarded as far-right.
Number of fatalities revised upwards
What happens when authorities and politicians downplay far-right networks for years can also be seen in Germany. There, the federal government stated that since reunification there have been 63 deaths of right-wing violence throughout Germany. A far too low number, as the Federal Criminal Police Office found during a year-long investigation, which was commissioned as a result of the NSU series of murders. Instead, it should now be 746 completed and attempted murder crimes, in which 849 people died or were dangerously injured. And the investigation is far from complete.