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SCHWANGAU (dpa-AFX) – Tougher rules for social network operators, penalties for negligence to deal with fraud and new naming law: federal and states ministers of justice discussed 39 themes in Schwangau im Allgu – and a common line between states for 29 applications found. Only three applications were rejected, the Bavarian Minister of Justice Georg Eisenreich (CSU), chairman of the conference, announced on Thursday after the spring meeting. However, on some points, opinions were very mixed. Overview:
Internet Hatred: Länder Justice Ministers want to punish operators of large social networks if they do not immediately remove hate messages. The federal government should investigate to what extent this is legally possible. This is about criminal content that companies are aware of, for example through complaints, but that are still not removed quickly. Until now, criminal law has focused on authors, network operators would have to pay fines at most.
“They pay for everything from petty cash,” said Eisenreich. It is not fair that companies have taken advantage of the profits, leaving behind the problems of democracy and the rule of law.
Ministers of state, however, could not agree with the demand to create a nationwide reporting office dealing with commenting on hatred, as Hamburg senator Anna Gallina (Greens) suggests. Instead, existing offers from the Länder are to be improved and listed on an easy-to-find internet portal. The Bavarian Minister of Justice announced that in about two weeks he will present an offer to citizens of the Free State. Registration Office of Baden-Württemberg “Respect!” to share.
Avoiding fares: Berlin and Bremen have applied to decriminalize driving without a ticket. There was no majority for this at the conference of justice ministers – although the initiative had previously signed more than 100,000 signatures to ministers of state. Until now, those evading the tariff face a fine and imprisonment for up to one year.
The case is not “legally resolved,” North Rhine-Westphalia Justice Minister Peter Biesenbach (CDU) said on Thursday. Instead, poor and addicted people, who often end up in jail for driving without a ticket, should be helped “on the social and support side”. However, countries agree that there is a “need for advice” on this matter. That is why the heads of ministries should deal with it now.
Trafficking in human beings: In the fight against human trafficking and exploitation, justice ministers are demanding new criminal laws from the federal government. Clearer formulas and closing gaps are essential. Although the rules were only reformed six years ago, the new rules fell short of expectations. There is a need to “reorientate the entire regulatory area”.
Bavaria and Lower Saxony demanded, inter alia, enabling investigators to monitor the communication of suspects in cases of pimping. In addition, perpetrators should also be able to punish when they take advantage of a situation where the victim is “at risk of serious harm” if they resist.
Dealing with Fraud: According to the will of state justice ministers, leaders of churches, schools, and associations should be able to be punished if they allow further action by failing to investigate abuses. The federal government should investigate the tightening of the criminal law. “It’s about protecting children,” said Bavaria’s head of department, Eisenreich. So far, punishments for superiors are only possible when they intentionally promote sexual abuse of children through their actions or omissions. But it is often difficult to prove.
The reason Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, and North Rhine-Westphalia took action was due to cases where Catholic clergy were allowed to continue pastoral work after acts of abuse. Criminal law tightening should apply “in the event of gross breaches of duties” by superiors, which allows for further abuses.
Naming Law: The German Naming Law is to be reformed as per the conference’s will. The rule set, which is based on the principle of name continuity, is “not very flexible, complicated and in some areas contradictory”. A modern right to a surname would have to take into account the right of the individual to self-determination, the diversity of family life and the interests of national minorities.
Digital Security Papers: Ministers want security documents such as living wills to be digitally accessible to doctors and courts. The goal is to reach the patient’s wishes as quickly as possible through the Central Register of Prevention (ZVR). The condition is the consent of the person issuing the documents. Life wills allow people to decide what treatments they consent to when they are no longer able to express their will.
Compulsory insurance against storm damage: According to the opinion of the Minister of Justice, compulsory insurance against the so-called elemental damage, e.g. caused by heavy rain or landslides. According to the conference resolution, such an obligation for private owners of apartment buildings “is not constitutionally excluded”. However, “substantial deductions or comparable instruments must be provided”.
In 2017, a working group of the Conference of Ministers of Justice referred to “serious constitutional reservations” regarding such compulsory insurance. After another survey, the Countries Working Group came to a slightly different conclusion./fjm/DP/men
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