Minister Not Backing Down About Torture | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 02.01.2006
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Germany

Minister Not Backing Down About Torture

The debate continues about whether confessions obtained from foreign intelligence services through torture should be used in Germany. The parliament will soon take up the issue of how far is too far.

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Where are the boundaries in the war on terror?

According to Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, in the fight against terrorism information from foreign security services is indispensable, even if that information might have been obtained through the application of torture.

"In the future, we will use all the evidence that we can get," Schäuble told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "If we require a guarantee from all intelligence agencies that information was obtained by following the rule of law, we might as well close up shop now."

Neue Folterfotos aus Abu Graib

From the Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad

Those sentiments have unleashed a storm of outrage from politicians, who say the foundations of a society that follows the rule of law cannot be sacrificed, even in an era of increased terrorism.

Recently, the president of Germany's Constitutional Court, Hans-Jürgen Papier, warned about giving up basic societal principals in the hopes of increasing security.

The interior affairs experts of the free-market liberal FDP party, Max Stadler, echoed those sentiments, saying the ban on torture must be "absolute."

"Confessions obtained through torture are not suitable or admissible evidence for a German court," he said. "Being relative about that would be dangerous." He added however, that it was not realistic to double check how exactly information, which Germany uses, was obtained by foreign intelligence agencies.

Petra Pau, the head of the Left Party's parliamentary group, strongly criticized the interior minister's words: "Schäuble's distance from [Germany's] Basic Law is getting larger and larger."

Military employed at home?

Schäuble has also rekindled the controversy over using German military forces domestically during the upcoming Soccer World Cup.

Leopard 2 für die Türkei

Tanks at the stadiums this summer?

"I don't want to put tanks in front of the soccer stadiums," he said. "The military, however, could protect other objects, such as embassies."

The FDP's Stadler told reporters that one of the first tasks of the new parliament sitting in 2006 would be to draw clearly defined boundaries about how far the country would be willing to go to protect its citizens against terrorism, and would address both the torture question and that of employing military forces on domestic soil.

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