Information deficits in report about right-wing extremism in public service

by Thorsten Koch

The long-awaited Situation Report of the Offices for the Protection of the Constitution on “right-wing extremism in the public service” will not be a comprehensive overview. The document was announced last year in order to shed a light on right-wing extremism among those working at the federal and state level. After the Lübcke assassination and the attack on the synagogue in Halle, there were right-wing incidents involving civil servants within the police forces in Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and also at the Bundeswehr Special Forces Command (KSK). In chat groups, individuals or groups of officials had been exchanging anti-Semitic and racist messages, or prepared for a coup in civil service.

At the end of the month, the heads of the security authorities of the Federal and State Governments are to discuss the situation. Part of the approximately 250,000 police officers and 170,000 soldiers are affected. So far, however, feedback to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and from the Federal States has been very reserved. The security authorities seem to be the most sensitive, while the public sector as a whole has provided little response. Federal Office President Haldenwang recently asked the Federal States to again provide information. Cases from the past, as well as suspected cases, should now be included.

According to several presidents of Offices for the Protection of the Constitution, it is the legal situation which explains the thin information situation. The law only allows security officers to take a close look at civil servants in case of official security clearances. Data of those working for public authorities, as well as those working in ministries, cannot be compared across the board with the databases of the Offices for the Protection of the Constitution. As a result, only disciplinary proceedings are usually published, and in many or even most of these cases only closed proceedings.

North Rhine-Westphalia is breaking new ground. In the Federal State, Extremism Representatives were appointed. There is also reason for praise concerning the Bundeswehr and the Federal Criminal Police Office. Both institutions examine, among other things, the meaning of tattoos, during recruitment proceedings for constitutional compliance. However, noticeable tattoos are not reported for those who have already been hired, due to medical confidentiality.

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