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Germany

Press Review: No Right to Shoot

Wednesday's high court ruling against a law which would allow hijacked planes to be shot from the skies, has provoked a mixed reaction in German editorials.

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Karlsruhe ruled against a right to shoot planes hijacked by terrorists

The Berlin daily, the TAZ said the court had "proclaimed the protection of human dignity as an absolute," and added that if it were to be taken seriously, a consequence must be an end to discussions on permissible and non-permissible forms of torture. The paper says the ruling "won't facilitate the fight against terrorism," and adds that "the price that democratic societies pay for their culture is not being able to do whatever they want just because it is theoretically possible."

Another Berlin-based paper, the Berliner Zeitung also welcomed the ruling which it said left no room for doubt about the court's views on the law. "The Karlsruhe judges have occasionally reprimanded violations of human dignity through state measures, but never before have they accused the state of passing a law which denies people their dignity and the right to life."

In Dusseldorf, the Rheinische Post described the ruling as too rigid. "That the Karlsruhe court yesterday ruled against the law was not only predictable, but also a crass example of a German passion for rules. In passing its veto verdict, the highest court is attempting to create a legal framework for even the most desperate of situations. A more pragmatic, Anglo-Saxon approach, in which a decision could be taken as and when such a situation arises, would have made more sense."

The Oldenbürgische Volkszeitung said the high court judges in Karlsruhe had shown just how untouchable human dignity in Germany is. "They have sharpened the contours of our democracy. Despite the dangers of an attack, German values have proved victorious. And that makes the ruling historic."

The Frankfurter Rundschau writes that yesterday's ruling is not only "a slap in the face for the previous government but a warning for the current Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble to expand the domestic deployment possibilities of the German armed forces." The paper says "the high court judges have left no doubt that human dignity is untouchable," adding that it is unconstitutional to kill innocent people in the name of staving off danger.

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