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Germany

Anti-Terror Package II Facing Roadblocks

Some state leaders want Interior Minister Otto Schily to strengthen his legislative proposal, members of the Greens, however, want it weakened.

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Germany's Interior Minister Otto Schilly faces tough debate in parliament

This time around, it's not going to be that easy.

Interior Minister Otto Schily's first anti-terror package was introduced within weeks of the September 11 attacks. It won broad approval and passed the German parliament without difficulty at the beginning of November. Both opposition parties, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Liberals (FDP), as well as the coalition government's junior partner, the Green party, gave its nod. Then the Bundesrat, the upper house of German parliament representing states' interests, said yes as well.

But Schily's second anti-terror package, due to come up for vote in the German parliament next week, is considerably less clear-cut. Based on crticism voiced this week, the second set of anti-terrorist measures is in for difficult times.

The Green party has come out strongly against restrictive aspects of the legislative proposal, and cabinet members are still debating changes proposed earlier this week. The Bundesrat, on the other hand, wants to strengthen aspects of the proposal.

Expelling foreign extremists

The main point of dispute is the expulsion of foreign extremists. Schily originally wanted to expel all foreigns found to belong to extremist groups. But the heads of some of Germany's 16 states want the proposal sharpened to expel foreigners solely on the basis of a suspicion of involvement.

Such a restrictive proposal would be similar to ones passed in the United States, where foreigners can be detained up to a week without actual proof of terrorist involvement.

The Green party has spoken out repeatedly against such measures.

"The coalition will not allow the expulsion," or detention of foreigners, "only because of a suspicion," of terrorist activities, Volker Beck, the legal affairs specialist and deputy leader of the Greens parliamentary group, told the "Berliner Zeitung" on Friday.

Schily has attempted to work out a compromise. He says he will re-work the proposal so that it wins the approval of both the Bundesrat and the Greens.

Second package proposal

The first anti-terrorist package cracked down on religious groups with a proven fundamentalist slant by taking away their right to protection under the "religious organization" law. In Germany, churches and other religious groups can form organizations that are protected by law.

The first package of anti-terrorist measures also approved billions for improving Germany's law enforcement agencies and increasing the number of police officers.

But Schily wanted his second proposal to pack more punch. He proposed strengthening the powers of the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation so that it may undertake investigations of foreigners without probable cause. And he proposed redesigning the German personal identification card so that it included bio-metric data.

When the second package was announced in October, it received a storm of criticism Many civil rights groups referred to the new proposals as draconian and saw them as an infringement of their constitutional freedoms.

Germany's commissioner for data protection said the package was rife with "serious intrusions into personal privacy." He also questioned whether the measures suggested would actually be effective in fighting terrorism.

Money woes

The complaints sent Schily back to the drawing board in November. Though the new version with its compromise has smoothed out some disagreements, an internal cabinet paper released earlier this week suggests another battle lies ahead.

The paper, which was made available to the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", showed that the new anti-terrorist measures would cost $215 million up front and an additional $88 million for every following year. That's more money than the ministry has at the moment.

"It is to be expected that the private sector will have to share part of the burden," the cabinet document states.

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