Wikileaks publishes cable from German embassy to US on El Masri case

The cable reports a discussion between German Deputy  National Security Adviser Rolf Nikel and the US ambassador to Germany on the 6th of February 2007 in which the latter emphasized to Nikel that “issuance of
international arrest warrants would have a negative impact on  our bilateral relationship.”

The DCM pointed out that our intention was not to  threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German  Government weigh carefully at every step of the way the  implications for relations with the U.S.  We of course  recognized the independence of the German judiciary, but  noted that a decision to issue international arrest warrants  or extradition requests would require the concurrence of the  German Federal Government, specifically the MFA and the  Ministry of Justice (MOJ).  The DCM said our initial  indications had been that the German federal authorities  would not allow the warrants to be issued, but that  subsequent contacts led us to believe this was not the case.
 
Nikel also underscored the independence of the  German judiciary, but confirmed that the MFA and MOJ would  have a procedural role to play.  He said the case was subject  to political, as well as judicial, scrutiny.  From a judicial  standpoint, the facts are clear, and the Munich prosecutor  has acted correctly.  Politically speaking, said Nikel,  Germany would have to examine the implications for relations  with the U.S.

Terror warnings in Germany have triggered a new debate on the country’s data protection laws

Der Spiegel reports that little progress has been made on a new draft data retention law, after the German court struck down the implementation of the EU Data Retention directive in March this year. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), has requested a new law allowing for the retention of telecommunications and Internet data for six months. The data, he insists, could provide valuable clues in terror investigations. Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a member of the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), Merkel’s junior coalition partner, has, however, categorically ruled out such legislation. “For the FDP there will be no mass storage of data for months, without good reason,” Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told the southern German daily Augsburger Allgemeine. Her proposal of a law allowing data retention in specific cases, she says, “is the FDP’s compromise proposal.”

In parliament on Thursday, CDU justice expert Günter Krings demanded that a law be passed allowing for the retention of telecommunications and Internet data for a minimum of six months. Currently, he said, such data, particularly as relates to flat rates, is only saved “for a few days,” he said. De Maizière, who has repeatedly spoken in favor of extended data retention, merely said “our position, my position, is well known.”

The regional daily Rheinische Post reported on Friday that de
Maizière recently sent a letter to Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger demanding
that she drop her resistance to the secret surveillance of suspected
terrorists.

“Given the current threat level, I find it indefensible that
investigators are denied the required access to areas of highly
conspiratorial communication among terror suspects,” the letter read,
according to the paper. “I would be very grateful to you were the
Justice Ministry to reconsider its restrictive stance.”

OSI report on implementing International and Regional Human Rights Decisions

This report by the Open Society Justice Initiative reviews the implementation of judgments across the world’s four human rights systems. Working from empirical data as well as interviews conducted with court personnel, human rights advocates, and academics, authors David C. Baluarte and Christian M. De Vos provide a comprehensive review of  the dynamics involved in putting international commitments into practice. The report provides recommendations tailored to each system, while also pulling together common points of concern in its final chapter. Read it here.