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Germany lower house passes measure to criminalize terrorist training camps

[JURIST] German legislators in the lower house of the Bundestag [official website, in German] Thursday approved a bill [text, PDF, in German] that criminalizes training in terrorist camps, among other provisions. Under existing law, prosecution of an individual for involvement in a suspected terrorist organization requires membership in the organization or support of it. The proposed legislation seeks to broaden the definition of those who can be prosecuted to include those residing in a training camp of a suspected terrorist group. The bill also broadens other aspects of punishable terrorist involvement to include financing and other means of support not previously covered. By encouraging early intervention into potential terrorist activity, the bill aims to reduce the threat of attacks against Germany and the international community. According to the text of the legislation, motivation for drafting the law stemmed from the arrest of three 9/11 [JURIST news archive] hijackers who lived in Germany before the attacks. The proposed legislation must still be passed by the upper house.

Last year, the lower house of the Bundestag passed [JURIST report] an anti-terrorism measure to expand the federal police power to include online and telephone surveillance. In February, 2008, Germany's Federal Constitutional Court [official website] ruled that a 2006 North-Rhine Westphalia [official website, in German] law authorizing intelligence agents to search personal computers, networks, and Internet communications was unconstitutional [JURIST report]. The court ruled [text, in German; press release, in German] that the law violated privacy rights, but said similar methods might be appropriate in limited, compelling circumstances, such as if a life was in danger or to prevent an immediate terrorist attack.

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