Germany's most populous state is preparing a new law on police surveillance and controls, following in Bavaria's footsteps. Over 9,000 demonstrators took to the streets in Dusseldorf to protest against the plan.
An estimated 9,300 people took to the streets of Dusseldorf on Saturday to protest against proposed changes to the police law in Germany's most populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW).
The protest brought together opposition politicians, unions and even fans from rival soccer clubs across the state who say the draft law expands police powers without offering up enough protections for the rights of citizens.
At the start of the protests, DW's Felix Tamsut wrote: "One of the first things you see leaving the main station is this banner. NRW's coat of arms with a camera and a pair of handcuffs instead of the original horse and the river Rhein [Rhine]." #NoPolGNRW
Green state politician Berivan Aymaz declared on Twitter: "I'm a Feminist not a Terrorist!" a likely reference to the draft law proposal to allow for increased surveillance and police intervention against suspects who are deemed "potential offenders" [in German, Gefährder].
Fighting terrorism or violating rights?
After Bavaria moved to reorganize its state police and change the law for its intelligence services, Germany's most populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) is also planning extensive changes to its police law.
The proposed NRW law includes the "threat of danger" as justification for covert police surveillance as well as increasing digital surveillance on encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp. Other proposals include giving powers to police to monitor and intercept phone calls and texts, hold suspects in jail for up to 28 days and impose 3-month preventative banning orders.
Justification for the increased security and police powers in a number of states has been given in terms of threats from extremist violence.
However, there are concerns that a fine line between freedom and security may be crossed.
rs, jm/ng (AFP, dpa)