Boris Kálnoky, Head of the MCC Media School in Hungary, has written a post for Corvinák pointing out that while the EU is making Hungary’s receipt of EU funds conditional on strengthening the ‘Rule of Law’, it has yet to say anything about a recent law in Germany that will enable the state to sack civil servants accused of not being in accord with the German constitution while bypassing their employment rights.
Germany passed a worrisome law that encourages people to spy on their fellow citizens, and to report on them if they say things that are deemed to be critical of Germany’s ‘constitutional order’.
Initially, the law was just meant to implement an EU directive for the protection of ‘whistleblowers’, if they report on infringements against EU regulations. But the leftwing German government, with last-minute changes to the draft law, turned it into an instrument for a political power grab in Germany. You can read the draft and the changes here.
Crucially, the law stipulates that civil servants, such as policemen and teachers, can be fired without a court decision if they are deemed to be in disaccord with Germany’s fundamental law (the constitution). That is a huge change to the legal status of civil servants who, so far, could only be fired if it was proven in court that they oppose the constitution. With the new rule, that doesn’t need to be proven anymore. Allegations will be enough.
But spying on neighbours will not be limited to state organisations. Companies with at least 50 employees are ordered to create – at their own expense – ‘Meldestellen’ – (‘reporting offices’) were anyone can report anyone if they think they saw, heard or otherwise witnessed something improper. Not something illegal per se – citizens can report incidents that, although not illegal, and perhaps even protected by the fundamental right to freedom of speech, seem to show that someone is critical of Germany’s fundamental law. And that can be enough to fire any civil servant.Victims can fight the decision in court, but at their own expense.
Freedom of speech thus remains protected by the constitution. But if you exercise it, you may lose your job. Not just if you are a civil servant. Or why would the law include private companies? There, as well as in state organisations, ‘whistleblowers’ can denounce their colleagues ‘anonymously’. And from there on, the whistleblower cannot be fired, as long as the report is investigated.
Imagine you are a teacher, and that you dislike another teacher in your school – perhaps because you are also a leftwing activist, and the other comes across as rather conservative. Maybe he said something disparaging about the EU? Or the government? Or the gender debate? Just report him or her.
Or perhaps, in a private company, you envy the job of a colleague and would like it for yourself? Just report them. If you do this to harm someone, and untruthfully, the law to stipulates that you may be punished. But since accusers can remain anonymous, that may never be proven.