Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff at PostGlobal

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff

Germany

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. He overseas the fund's policy programs. He was previously the Washington bureau chief of the German newsweekly, Die Zeit. Close.

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff

Germany

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff is a Senior Director at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a transatlantic public policy and grant-making foundation. more »

Main Page | Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff Archives | PostGlobal Archives


The Quiet German – No Evidence, No Injustice

No chief justice has ever been removed from office in Germany, and most Germans believe their judiciary is impartial. But is it? The German Parliament does not have the power to investigate, nor would any state prosecutor who cares about their career. An impartial system, or just a quiet one?

» Back to full entry

All Comments (5)

Wilmersdorfer:

Just looked further into it and found, there isn't a term for 'whistle blower' either, in German.
If a prosecutor is branded for life if he/she does not hush up evidence of injustice, then Germany is not a democracy. Democracy without justice is a pretend democracy, and the German 'democracy' is, as I have experienced, certainly that. A kind of ruling class has come about in Germany that is, also in my experience, as corrupt as Africa, as others have found, too.
'African circumstances ruled in Germany then,' said a Frenchman in a Paris court about the early nineties. Has anybody noticed any changes? Had the Germans rectified the injustices stemming from 'African cicumstances', they could be regarded as a democracy, but omerta still rules – no evidence, no injustice.
Friends of mine here in Australia once said, 'now you only have long enough to see justice'. 12 years later, justice and Germany still do not compute.
And now, Ms Merkel, the Kohl protegée, tops it off by raising her index finger and telling Vladimir Putin about democracy? It would be funny, if it wasn't so tragic. I am confident, Putin is smart enough to take Germany as an example for a perverted democracy, i.e. how NOT to do it.

Wilmersdorfer:

Censorship in Germany functions through self-sensorship, mostly called 'scissors in head' technique. I was in communication with a person who wrote (not on the site) 'our prosecutors are very quick to confiscate computers.' It sounded like they did not need a court order.
The mentioning of that federal government department (bundesverfassungsschutz) is a fascinating one, since the name of the department means 'protection of the constitution', but in reality they are one of the secret services. They do not protect the constitution at all, which I have experienced: The German constitution has for instance a clause that private property is respected, but the Kohl Government breached the constitution in 1994 with their 'Chancellor Matter'. Nobody has dared to take Kohl & Co to court; breach of the constitution does not rate. They proved, in what in my case, was one of the re-unification crimes, Stalin's worst diatribes about a ruling class were not hollow propaganda. Germany's ruling class, who colludes with the French ruling class makes a mockery of democracy, I was hit bigtime. But it looks good to have a government department that protects the constitution, even if it is a misnomer, because it really protects the ruling parties, plus office bearers on their travels and their money trees in big business.
The language barrier serves as a protective shield to the world community, so many deeds do not reach the public eye of the world community. Germans can't write about it, because it is too dangerous. For outside, it needs to be translated, but since no funding is there, very few analyses appear in English, and on a random basis at that. Germans themselves are unlikely to carry the grubby practices of their countrymen to the outside, because they have been brought up with 'not to soil the nest' - justice comes after that (if it comes).
The German language does not have terms for 'victim impact statement', 'open society', and 'good governance' - not on their radar.
Germany shows how one-eyed democracy issues have become: The debate is only on procedure, i.e. how people get into office, when the real issue is about what people actually do once they hold office.

Simon Weber:

I wonder where that comment from "Old Atlantik" comes from. Based on my experience the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (or OPC as he calls it) isn't nearly as bad as he describes.

First of all, they neither prosecute nor arrest. They collect information. They spy to gather information on people that potentially wish to abolish the constitutional order. Saying "This is my house and i'm free to say what i want here" can neither bring the OPC to arrest you, nor will they probably care. What they care about is whether you get together with others to plan the abolition of the constitutional order.

Also it IS pretty clear that they are not without controll. According to §8 X, sentence 2 Bundesverfassungsschutzgesetz (Law on the OPC) they have to give a report to the Bundestag once a year covering all its activities. For certain activities they even need to report more frequently. Once a year they also create a public report on their findings.

But it's not only parliament that controlls the "OPC", the courts do as well. And I have witnessed them doing so myself when i was an intern at court. A right wing party successfully filed a law suit against the state protesting against their description in the public OPC report and against being monitored. Consequence was, that unless that party becomes more important again and shows concrete signs of wishing to abolish the constitutional order, they could no longer be observed as intensely.

That said, the OPC certainly is a little eerie. An organisation that spies on the countries own people allways is, especially when it happens that they also eavesdrop on (left-wing) statewide student council representatives (at least parts of our student council had the strong suspicion they did)... But it's neither a secret police nor are they beyond controll. And they are certainly not excercising thought controll either. The thought observation that one probably can claim they excercise indeed is bad enough, but it's nowhere close to what Old Atlantik describes.

Old Atlantic:

Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz/BfV).

http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/en/index_en.html

This office prosecutes propaganda crime on the right and the left. They have thousands of cases each year. This is really a thought police. It is not clear if Germans can criticize it.

It is not clear if it is really subject to any control. They make it sound like the constitution can never be changed to eliminate this office or stop it. So prosecuting speech crime can't be stopped even if the German people all wanted to. Instead the OPC could arrest the entire German people for wanting to abolish the OPC.

Speech is not free in Germany. The OPC has interpreted the constitution to mean that the OPC is without real oversight, can prosecute anyone who says to abolish it, even politicians or newspapers, and possibly even people in other countries who criticize it.

They will say this is calling the constitution into ill respect or the OPC into ill respect. Such "crimes" can encompass anything. Saying this is my house and I am free to say what I want here, could bring the OPC in to arrest you.

They do come into people's homes to search for what they have written or evidence of their thought crimes. Germany is a 1984 country. Its not free. The OPC is also pushing ethnic cleansing of Germans.

What we fought against and what we put on trial after WWII is what the OPC is. It is engaged in crimes against humanity, just not on the same scale as Hitler or Stalin in the short run. Ethnic cleansing by immigration does do as much or more in the long run.

Tarik:

A good judicial system is one which provides cheap and quick relief to the common man.
It may not cover the "politicians" or the "Ruling class", as effectively as one would wish for.
In Saudi Arabia for example the Kings have ruled without any serious challange because the common man is not bothered. He gets his day in court quickly and cheaply.

In Pakistan it is the other way around. The common man suffers. The courts are expensive and justice is more often delayed but rarely denied.
There are just too many pending case.
The process is time consuming and inefficient.
People would really not care too much if this guy or the other is made the Chief Justice.

Problem for Musharraf is :neither do the courts nor the trains run on time. People are just fed up. And add to this the constant American demand of him "not doing enough."
This Chief Justice thing is just a red herring.

The real problem is people in Pakistan do not like
Musharraf any more, because the war in South Waziristan is going to spill over into a civil war in Pakistan. In the last 6 months the Pakistan Army has lost more troops than the Nato forces in Afghanistan have in over 5 years.

History has shown that Americans cannot be trusted. They only belive in pursuing their agenda. Take an example.
Nancy Pelosi goes to Pakistan and meets Musharraf and thats it. No contact with the opposition or civic agencies or even the common citizens especially womens rights group who would have welcomed the opportunity to meet with the women who made history in the United States and in the world.

This Chief Justice issue is only another straw on the camels back!!


PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.