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Germany

Interior Ministers Agree on Anti-Terrorism Database

Interior ministers from the German states concluded a two-day conference on internal security measures by agreeing on a federal database for terror suspects.

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Old world, new threats

The German ministers of the interior appeared to have put their differences aside as they concluded a conference in Kiel on Thursday dealing with counter-terrorism measures and the creation of a federal database for terror suspects.

The ministers came to an agreement on closer cooperation between the German states on internal security matters and expressed support for Federal Minister of the Interior Otto Schily's plan of a central database where information would be pooled from all over Germany.

Before the conference, the ministers had also agreed that they all wanted to expand the use of DNA analysis from its current application in crimes such as murder and manslaughter cases and permit its use in less serious areas of investigation.

Ministers agree on pooled information file

Later Schily confirmed that agreement had been met on his plan to create a central file for Islamist terror suspects. Ministers from the states of Hesse, Lower Saxony and Bavaria had already signaled their support for a federal database where information on suspects from all states would be combined with national files to build a comprehensive list of suspected terrorists in Germany.

Bundesinnenminister Otto Schily

Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily

Schily (photo) added that, up until now, the transfer of information between individual departments had been unsatisfactory. The Federal Interior Minister told the German magazine Stern that everything must be done to ensure "that really every detail goes into the central file."

For several months now, the state-level Office for the Protection of the Constitution intelligence agencies have been sparring with Berlin over proposals to abolish the state offices and consolidate them at the federal level or in a smaller grouping of regional offices.

Liberals protest over too much transparency

The opposition Free Democratic Party liberals, however, rejected the claim for a central database. The FDP's spokesperson for domestic affairs, Max Städter, told the Berliner Zeitung that the fight against terrorism should go on but by following constitutional principles. He argued that a central file would provide the intelligence agencies with access to domestic police files and therefore more than just the necessary information to investigate terror suspects. Städter instead suggested creating two separate databases.

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