Germany announces counter-terrorism measures


German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering a series of new security measures that include making it easier to detain and deport terrorist suspects, the country’s top security official said Thursday.

The plan is intended to boost staffing and equipment for security forces and improve the policing and prosecution of terrorist suspects by the end of Merkel’s third term in late 2017, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

“Nobody can guarantee absolute security, but we need to do everything within our power,” de Maiziere told a news conference on Thursday.

The measures include stripping dual nationals who join extremist groups in Iraq and Syria of their German citizenship, introducing “threat to public safety” as new grounds for detention and making it easier to detain criminals and those deemed to be dangerous.

Germany has been on high alert since four violent attacks in the space of one week last month – three of them committed by asylum seekers and two of them claimed by Islamic State – left 12 people dead, three of them attackers.

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During an annual news conference held in the wake of the attacks, Merkel vowed to do “everything humanly possible” to ensure security in Germany.

De Maiziere on Thursday denied claims that one of the measures contained in the plan would water down patient confidentiality rules to make it easier for doctors to report planned crimes to authorities.

He said that the government would work with representatives of the profession to ensure better cooperation under the current rules, which already allow doctors to report their patients under certain circumstances.

Several state security officials in Merkel’s conservative political bloc have put forward a separate package of measures that include a ban of full-face coverings for Muslim women and forbidding dual citizenship.

De Maiziere said that those measures were still under discussion and that he did not agree with all of them.