Should a democracy intervene in a dictatorship

Corona and fundamental rights: what is the state allowed to do?

The state of Bavaria has already declared a disaster and is currently the furthest in the fight against the corona virus in Germany. "Everything has to go in one direction in a joint, coordinated form," said Prime Minister Markus Söder at a press conference in Munich on Monday. Auxiliary staff, fire brigade and rescue services can now all be placed under one command. Usually, their management is the responsibility of the municipalities or the rural districts and cities. Now the Ministry of the Interior can govern.

In addition, all hospitals in Bavaria are now under state supervision: They should concentrate on combating Corona. In the event of a disaster, not only in Bavaria, lists of retired doctors or general practitioners can be drawn up who should be used in an emergency.

The Bavarian Prime Minister Söder calls for a disaster

They would have to appear on duty in hospitals, for example. But there are differences in the details, as each federal state has its own disaster control law.

In an emergency, massive interventions by the state mpossible

Nationwide, the Infection Protection Act from 2001 is currently being acted upon. And that alone can result in severe cuts and restrict the basic rights of citizens. According to Section 17, these are the freedom of the citizen, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and the inviolability of the home.

A meeting ban for larger groups has already been put into force nationwide by the federal states. The quarantines for suspected cases are also based on the Infection Protection Act. General curfews, currently not yet issued in Germany, would also be possible.

Merkel: Restrictions "are essential to save lives"

Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the population to understand the existing restrictions. "I know how hard the closings that the federal and state governments have agreed on affect our lives and our democratic self-image," she said in a TV address on Wednesday. "For someone like me, for whom freedom of movement and freedom of movement were a hard-won right, such restrictions can only be justified if absolutely necessary. In a democracy they should never be decided lightly and only temporarily - but they are indispensable at the moment in order to Saving lives, "said the Chancellor.

In a historic address, Chancellor Merkel appeals to the responsibility of every single German

In the event of a disaster, for which, as I said, every federal state has its own law, further restrictions are conceivable. The example of Thuringia shows how far the measures could go: There, for example, an area particularly badly affected by the corona virus could be cordoned off. The roads leading there would be checked so that no one could just get in or out. The so-called telecommunications secrecy could be overridden, so phone calls could be tapped. The right to property - one's own house or property - could also be restricted. It would be possible to quarter strangers there.

Individual cities can also declare a disaster. In view of the Corona crisis, the city of Halle has taken this measure. The corresponding restrictions are based on the Disaster Protection Act of Saxony-Anhalt.

Federal Government kcould declare a "state of emergency"

There is no nationwide disaster law, but there are so-called emergency laws. A distinction is made between different scenarios such as internal and external threats, for example epidemics or a military attack.

This legislative package as a supplement to the Basic Law was only passed in 1968 - after a heated discussion. There was great concern about a new authoritarian state. The Nazi dictatorship, the rise of which was facilitated by an emergency ordinance issued at the end of the Weimar Republic, was still in the bones of everyone. The state, so the critics of the emergency laws said, should not be able to "simply" override the rights of the citizens again.

The Basic Law provides rules and guidance for the German state - the emergency laws are part of it

The main aim of the emergency laws is to centralize the state's response to an emergency. In a federal state like the Federal Republic of Germany, it is clearly defined what the federal states and what the federal government may and may not do. If the whole of Germany is in danger, the competencies are reassigned. The federal government could take control of the police officers in the federal states or deploy the armed forces in their own country. The federal states then received central instructions from Berlin on what to do.

Even with a "state of emergency" there would be considerable restrictions on fundamental rights. In this way, the confidentiality of letters could be overridden. Citizens could be temporarily deprived of their right to move freely. The federal government would have to declare a state of emergency. This has never happened before in the history of the Federal Republic. Therefore, there is still no experience in the practical implementation of the laws.