Democracy under attack

Germany EU leader in repressive action against climate activism

Repressive actions by the police
at a Last Generation protest march in September 2023. 
(c) Last generation. See more pictures here.

The international human rights organization Civicus published a report yesterday assessing the conditions for civil society engagement worldwide. After Germany's freedom rights for years as "open” had been assessed, the organization now upgraded the status to “narrowed down” down. Specifically, this means that Germany's government does not fully protect its citizens' freedom of expression, assembly and association.[1]

The report particularly emphasizes the authorities’ actions against the last generation: “This year, CIVICUS Monitor analysts documented how German authorities broke up climate protests and disproportionately against the climate movement “Last Generation” proceeded. Security forces conducted house searches, seized bank accounts, and blocked websites in response to the group's nonviolent civil disobedience. They also monitored phones, emails and voicemails."

German courts base the criticized approach on the suspicion that the last generation is one criminal organization. Still this year should in this context Indictment against five individuals. Paragraph 129 of the Criminal Code is used here, which is actually intended to combat organized crime. Instead of the name “Mafia paragraph” to do justice, it is now being used for the first time in the “fight” against the German climate justice movement.

Germany am currently at the Leading EU-wide crackdown on climate activism, explains Tara Petrović, who evaluated the data for Europe and Central Asia for the Civicus area. She describes the downgrading of Germany as a “wake-up call” for Germany and Europe to change course. 

The human rights organization already had in September Amnesty International published a digital world map on the right to freedom of assembly and the restriction of protests worldwide and for the first time this year Germany was counted among the countries in which protest is suppressed. [2]

On the occasion of the climate conference in Dubai on December 1.12st. also Green Legal Impact (GLI) with the support of the Society for Freedom Rights (GFF), the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU) and the Meacenata Institute published a report on “worrying developments" with regard to the Reduction of democratic freedoms to raise awareness for climate activists. It is emphasized that democratic spaces, participation rights and freedoms protected by fundamental rights are curtailed in many ways through measures such as bans on gatherings, police custody, or prosecution on charges of forming a criminal organization. [3]

GLI board member Dr. Roda Verheyen clearly criticizes this: “As long as the government through their inadequate climate policy If the future of the young generation is put at risk, it is theirs good law, vehemently for compliance with constitutional and international law obligations to protest. "

In the foreword to the report comes Michael Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Environmental Defenders, spoke. He warns: “I am deeply worried, witnessing such an erosion of civil society space and threats against environmentalists in Europe and also in Germany

He continues: “I think what worries governments, what causes them to classify climate movements like in Germany as criminal organizations, is not so much that alleged illegality of their activities […] but the reach of her voice. It is the fact that they are audible, heard and noticed."

But he also emphasizes: “Attempts to stifle the voice of environmental activists by restricting fundamental rights and civil society spaces will be avoided Urgency to act not diminish. The only appropriate response from the authorities, media and public to peaceful civil disobedience is to recognize how crucial it is for all of us to listen to what environmentalists have to say to us."

Last Generation spokeswoman Carla Hinrichs explains: “The way in which various institutions are currently failing politically in the face of the climate catastrophe and at the same time stoking fear of peaceful resistance is a dramatic reminder Pillars of our democracy. It further encourages us not to be intimidated and to stand up for all of our rights."