A new report calls on Germany to step up efforts to prevent and counter extremism and neo-Nazism and to ensure that evidence of online hate speech is transmitted to the police. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) also recommends strengthening existing equality bodies and speeding-up the updating of the National Action Plan on Integration, as well as setting up counselling services for intersex children and their parents.
Since its previous report in 2013, ECRI welcomes efforts that Germany has made to fight racism and discrimination. The report notes that “Germany warmly welcomed an extraordinarily large number of asylum seekers in 2015” and “invested many resources” in their inclusive integration. Several core integration indicators improved. The kindergarten enrolment rate of children with migration backgrounds increased to 84%, for example. The report praises the fact that German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have publicly spoken out against hate speech and called on social networks to enforce their guidelines on removing hate speech. The 2018 Network Enforcement Act obliges large social networks to remove hate speech “in clear cases within 24 hours” and the most serious forms of hate speech have disappeared from the large social media platforms.
However, ECRI detects that public discourse has become increasingly xenophobic and has noted “high levels of Islamophobia”. Racism is “particularly blatant” in two sub-organisations of a new political party and the constant racist and xenophobic discourse from the extreme right has impacted mainstream political discourse. ECRI also found an increasing number of right-wing extremists “ready to use violence”, with both right-wing and Islamist terrorists committing racist attacks. Many hate crimes remain unreported and evidence of online hate speech that could lead to violence is “not systematically transmitted to the police”. German Sinti and Roma need assistance and migrant Roma are often victims of exclusion and exploitation. Migrants in irregular situations need counselling and assistance.
Among 15 recommendations to the German authorities, two should be implemented as a priority and will be subject to a follow-up by ECRI within two years.