Bavaria wants to make insults and defamation punishable by up to five years in jail.
"Insults are often more uninhibited in the anonymity of the internet, have a wider reach and are practically impossible to get out of the world," justice minister georg eisenreich (CSU) told the deutsche presse agency in munich. The quality of cyberbullying has also changed. "We must adapt the criminal law to this development."
In concrete terms, eisenreich’s draft for the federal law calls for a maximum penalty of two years (previously one year) for insults and up to three years (previously one year) for defamation. Defamation should be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment instead of the current two years. "Our constitutional state must defend itself resolutely against the increasing spread of hatred and incitement to hatred. If you want to fight extremism effectively, you have to start with the words," the CSU politician said.
Eisenreich advocates not only selective changes to the criminal law on insults, but a comprehensive modernization of it. He had also recently informed federal justice minister christine lambrecht (SPD) of this by letter. "I would like to adapt the insult criminal law not only in the fight against hatespeech. Criminal law also needs to be tightened up with regard to cyberbullying and hate speech against people in public life."The central rules on insult, defamation and slander have essentially not been changed in the past 150 years.
In particular, harsher penalties are needed for so-called hatespeech. "Minorities, political dissidents and even politicians are increasingly becoming the target of hate and incitement," said eisenreich. "This leads to an unacceptable poisoning of the social and political climate in our country."
The bavarian proposal for the amendment to the law also provides that racist, xenophobic, anti-semitic or other inhumane insults can be prosecuted without a criminal complaint. "These traps concern us all. The public prosecutor must be able to prosecute here even without a criminal complaint, as long as the victim does not object," emphasized the bavarian minister of justice. For a successful fight against hate and incitement, germany needs a modern criminal law.