Germany completes draft to abolish controversial insult law
Germany’s Justice Ministry has completed a draft to abolish a criminal law that enables Germany to try its citizens on charges of insulting foreign political leaders, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on April 28.
The draft to abolish the law, which became contested after it prompted an investigation into German comedian Jan Böhmermann for a controversial poem that allegedly insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, includes the statement that “the idea that foreign state representatives need special protection against insults does not accord with the era.”
The draft also aims to abolish the law that requires the German federal government’s approval to open a probe into such offenses by the demand of foreign presidents. Under the current law, the federal government has to authorize prosecutors to pursue a case against anyone who is accused of insulting a foreign leader.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel accepted a request from Turkey to seek the prosecution of Böhmermann, who read out the poem on German television.
However, Merkel also announced that, by 2018, Germany would scrap the rarely enforced section 103 of the criminal code on insulting organs or representatives of foreign states – under which Böhmermann has been accused – as a result of the embarrassing affair.
The draft initially needs to be approved by related ministries and then needs to be presented to cabinet ministers.
The Mainz Prosecutor’s Office opened a probe on April 6 against Böhmermann for allegedly “insulting foreign state representatives and institutions.”
Prosecution spokesman Gerd Deutschler also said Böhmermann’s program material could amount to “a violation of section 103 of the [German] criminal code: insulting organs or representatives of foreign states.”