In a decision that cannot be appealed, an administrative court ruled that protesters will not be allowed to demonstrate within a six-kilometer zone around world leaders meeting next week at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm.
The new ruling will make it impossible for protesters to march near the security fence
The long-running debate over how close protesters should be allowed to get to world leaders at the Group of Eight summit was ended Thursday by an administrative court's ruling that authorities could ban demonstrators from entering a six-kilometer (3.7-mile) zone around the Baltic Sea resort where G8 leaders will meet.
The decision overturns a lower court's ruling last week that protests could be banned within 200 meters of the security fence built around the resort but not in the entire village of Heiligendamm, which will host the annual summit from June 6-8.
The court said the new restrictions "do not violate the basic right to freedom of assembly." Globalization opposition groups, however, have said the new restrictions are unconstitutional and insisted on the right to protest within earshot of the events they are demonstrating against.
Major setback for protesters
The first protesters have already arrived in Heiligendamm
"We will not reduce our international mobilization against the policies of the G8 to a single-file march," the group organizing a series of protest marches scheduled to converge on Heiligendamm on June 7 said in a statement, adding that neither the administrative court nor the police have supported the protest ban with concrete indications that protests would become violent.
"This is a major setback for peaceful protests of the G8 and a black day for freedom of assembly in Germany," Carsten Gericke, a lawyer for the march's organizer told the dpa news agency on Friday.
Fencing in politics
Jörg Schönbohm, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and the interior minister for the eastern German state of Brandenburg, said the 175 police officers injured during protests of the EU and Asian foreign ministers meeting this week in Hamburg showed the protest could turn violent.
Thousands demonstrated outside a foreign ministers' meeting in Hamburg
"There are more than just peaceful demonstrators," he said. "The deciding thing is that the conference takes place and that it takes place without disruption."
Security officials said between 16,000 and 17,000 police would be on duty during the summit.
The Social Democratic Party's spokesman for domestic affairs, Dieter Wiefelspütz, told the online Netzeitung the court's ruling was "oversized" and added that the German Constitutional Court should be open to an appeal from demonstration organizers and that politicians needed to reevaluate the importance of such summits.
"No politician wants to make policy behind a fence," he said.