Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
On December 19, Anis Amri allegedly killed Polish truck driver Lukasz Robert Urban and drove Urban’s truck at high speed through a Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. The apparent terrorist attack killed 12 persons and injured 56. Amri fled and was killed in a shootout with police in Milan, Italy, on December 23.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution prohibits such practices, and there were few reports that government officials employed them.
In the reports on its 2010 and 2013 visits to the country, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) criticized the use of voluntary surgical castration as a means of treatment of incarcerated sex offenders, stating that it was a mutilating, irreversible intervention whose application to incarcerated sex offenders “could be considered as amounting to degrading treatment.” The CPT recommended that all relevant federal and state authorities take steps to put a definitive end to its use. In a letter dated May 13, authorities informed the CPT no surgical castrations were performed on incarcerated sex offenders from 2013 to 2015.
In June, two police officers from Essen were cleared of charges of excessive use of force stemming from an April operation against drug dealers.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and detention center conditions generally met international standards.
Physical Conditions: On May 4, an 18-year-old inmate at the Wuppertal-Ronsdorf Correctional Facility killed a 20-year-old man after a card game. The perpetrator had a history of violence.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers. A delegation from the CPT visited the country in 2015. As of year’s end, the CPT’s report had not been released.
The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
Responsibility for internal and border security is shared by the police forces of the 16 states and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Federal Police. The states’ police forces report to their respective interior ministries; the federal police forces report to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (FOPC) and the state offices for the protection of the constitution (OPCs) are responsible for gathering intelligence on threats to domestic order and certain other security functions. Like police, the OPCs report to their respective state ministries of the interior. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over police and the OPCs, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year. The nongovernmental organization (NGO) Amnesty International Germany stated that there is no nationwide requirement for police to wear identity badges. According to the NGO, police are required to wear badges in Berlin and Brandenburg, as are riot police in Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Bremen, and Schleswig-Holstein.
In September 2015 Cologne’s police chief dissolved the city’s special forces unit and suspended 15 of its members while the city’s prosecutor’s office investigated abusive initiation practices and the misuse of a police helicopter to take private photographs. During the year the prosecutor’s office closed these investigations due to a lack of evidence, and the new Cologne police chief allowed all the officers involved to return to their previous assignments.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Authorities may arrest an individual only with a warrant issued by a competent judicial authority unless police apprehend a suspect in the act of committing a crime or have strong reason to believe that the individual intends to commit a crime. The constitution provides that authorities must produce an apprehended person before a judge no later than the day after the suspect was taken into custody. At that time the judge must inform the suspect of the reasons for the detention and provide the suspect an opportunity to object. The court must then either issue an arrest warrant stating the grounds for detention or order the individual’s release. Authorities generally respected these rights.
Bail exists, but authorities granted it infrequently. Judges usually released individuals awaiting trial without requiring bail, except in cases where a court decided there was a clear risk that the individual might flee. In such cases authorities may hold detainees for the duration of the investigation and subsequent trial, subject to judicial review. Time spent in investigative custody applies toward any eventual sentence. If a court acquits an incarcerated defendant, the government must compensate the defendant for financial losses as well as for “moral prejudice” due to the incarceration.
The law entitles a detainee to prompt access to an attorney at any time, including prior to any police questioning. According to the law, before interrogations begin authorities must inform suspects, arrested or not, of their right to consult an attorney.
In December 2015 an administrative court in Cologne ruled illegal the involuntary strip-searches of detainees by police for contraband. This decision stemmed from a complaint from a woman arrested and involuntarily strip-searched in 2013.
The law does not allow courts to punish persons twice for the same crime. A court may, however, order an offender convicted of rape, homicide, or manslaughter to spend additional time in “subsequent preventive detention” after completing the offender’s sentence, if it determines that the offender suffers from a mental disorder or represents a continuing serious danger to the public. The law permits the imposition of such detention for an indefinite period, subject to periodic reviews.
Because the law does not regard such detention as punishment, authorities are legally required to keep subsequent prevention detainees in separate buildings or in special prison sections with better conditions than those of the general prison population. Authorities must also provide a range of social and psychological therapy programs. According to the Federal Statistics Office, at the end of March 524 offenders, including one woman, were being held in subsequent preventive detention.
Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before Court: A detainee has the right to appeal his or her detention at any point of the sentence. The regional court of appeal decides whether to grant the appeal. It must hear the detainee and other persons involved unless it is firmly convinced that this will lead to no new findings. If the court of appeal holds that detention is to be continued, the detainee has a further right to appeal to the Federal High Court.
Protracted Detention of Rejected Asylum Seekers or Stateless Persons: Authorities in various states continued the practice of detaining rejected asylum seekers awaiting deportation, sometimes for protracted periods.
In 2014 the Federal Court of Justice ruled that authorities may detain asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants awaiting deportation to a country within the EU under Dublin procedures only if there was evidence they might abscond. Court rulings required authorities to move unsuccessful asylum seekers awaiting deportation from prisons to separate, special facilities with less strict security measures. As of October 2015, only five states had separate facilities, although some states shared facilities. Authorities may return asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants who are from safe countries of origin or who are not eligible for asylum without giving prior notice.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence.
The constitution provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them, with free interpretation as necessary. The trial shall be fair, public, and held without undue delay. The law requires that defendants be present at their trials. A single judge, a panel of professional judges, or a mixed panel of professional and nonprofessional judges may try a case, depending on the severity of the charges. Defendants have the right to consult with an attorney, and the government provides an attorney at public expense if defendants demonstrate financial need. Defendants and their attorneys have the right to adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. They have access to all court-held evidence relevant to their cases. Defendants may confront and question adverse witnesses and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants have a right of appeal. These rights extend to all citizens.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
Citizens may file complaints about violations of their human rights with petition committees and commissioners for citizens’ affairs. Citizens usually referred to these points of contact as “ombudsmen.” Additionally, an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters provides court access for lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, a human rights violation. Persons who exhaust domestic legal remedies may appeal cases involving alleged government violations of the European Convention on Human Rights to the European Court of Human Rights.
The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions.
The federal and state OPCs continued to monitor political groupings deemed potentially hostile to the constitution, including the Left Party and the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party (NPD). Authorities stated they employed monitoring as a last resort but only with approval of state or federal interior ministries and review by state or federal parliamentary intelligence committees. Authorities indicated they monitored the Left Party, which had seats in the Bundestag, because of their perception that it tolerated left-extremist groups within its ranks.
All OPC activities are challengeable in court, including ultimately in the Federal Constitutional Court. In 2014 following a Constitutional Court ruling, the government indicated that the FOPC would no longer observe Bundestag members.
In an August 30 report, the UN special rapporteur for privacy noted that “the democratic oversight of intelligence services in the country remains a cause for concern.” Echoing the concerns of the commissioner for human rights of the Council of Europe in his report in October 2015, the special rapporteur noted that the oversight bodies in the country lacked resources and technical expertise. He also stated there is no judicial review over the agencies’ activities.