Problem, reaction, solution …
“The use of ankle tags should not be only available for convicted criminals after release from prison, but for those identified as a general threat as well, …”
Suspected Islamic extremists could be forced to wear electronic tags without trial in Germany, under radical new proposals put forward by the country’s justice minister.
Heiko Maas said he wanted to extend the use of electronic ankle tags to those deemed a potential terror threat even if they have not been convicted of any crime.
The proposals come as senior ministers in Angela Merkel’s government prepare to meet on Tuesday to discuss security reforms in the wake of last month’s Christmas market terror attack in Berlin, in which 12 people died.
Anis Amri, the attacker, was able to move freely around Germany despite being identified as a terror threat because police could not secure enough evidence to arrest him.
Mr Maas called for a “preventive offensive” against the threat from Islamic extremism.
“The use of ankle tags should not be only available for convicted criminals after release from prison, but for those identified as a general threat as well,” he said.
Under current German law, electronic tags are only possible for convicted sex offenders after their release from prison, but Mr Maas called for their use to be expanded.
“Everything must be done to give us the best possible information on those deemed threats,” he said.
He also called for the law to be changed so that rejected asylum-seekers who cannot be deported can be detained indefinitely.
There has been considerable anger in Germany since it emerged that Amri was ordered to be deported but could not be because his native Tunisia was disputing his nationality.
“We have to hold the countries of origin much more forcefully to their responsibilities,” Mr Maas said.
Sigmar Gabriel, the German vice-chancellor, at the weekend threatened that development aid could be withheld from countries that do not accept the return of their deported nationals.“Those who do not cooperate cannot hope to benefit from our development aid,” Mr Gabriel, who is the leader of Mrs Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), told Spiegel magazine.
A senior MP from his party even called for Germany to impose economic sanctions on countries which refuse to accept deported nationals.
“It is unacceptable when when tens of thousands of deportations are blocked because the countries of origin refuse to provide passports,” Thomas Oppermann said. “Economic sanctions cannot be ruled out.”
There were demonstrations in the Tunisian capital over the weekend to demand that the country did not accept the return of Islamic extremists from abroad.
Protesters took to the streets of Tunis carrying a banner which read “Angela Merkel, Tunisia is not Germany’s rubbish tip”.
There are currently 548 people living in Germany who have been classified as a potential terror threat by the authorities.
More than 50 are rejected asylum-seekers who could be deported if their home countries would accept them, according to Spiegel.
The meeting will take place against a backdrop of sparring between Mrs Merkel’s Chistian Democrats (CDU) and their SPD coalition partners to be seen as tough on terror ahead of September’s general elections.