What are criminal contempt of legal process

Incitement of the masses and the limits of freedom of expression

The tone has become rougher and the political climate has heated up. Refugees, Jews, Germans with Turkish roots, but also people who are politically active and express themselves very often attacked, insulted and threatened.

Who is in Internet If you look around, you quickly get the feeling that you are living in a vicious, hateful world. The ones circulating on the Internet Hate speech is increasingly exceeding the limits of what is permitted. This is no longer about freedom of expression, but about crimes such as insulting, defamation, threats and sedition.

The following article aims to provide a little more clarity: Where does freedom of expression end, where does sedition begin? What are hate posts? And why are such statements a criminal offense?

Faq: sedition

What does sedition mean?

According to the StGB, hate speech is defined as various acts directed against certain national, racial, religious or ethnic groups or parts of the population. Such an act is e.g. B. inciting hatred or inciting violence against these people. The prerequisite for criminal liability for sedition is that the act is likely to disturb the public peace. Denial of the Holocaust is therefore also a criminal offense. You can read more about the facts here.

What punishment is there for sedition?

The possible punishment depends in particular on the specific offense the perpetrator has committed. You can find out more about the punishment provided for sedition here.

Why is hate speech a criminal offense?

The legislature provides for a punishment for sedition because, inter alia, wants to prevent a hostile and hateful climate of opinion from developing in Germany. He wants to counteract the danger that certain people or groups of people are so aggressively marginalized that they can become victims of violence.

What is sedition?

The criminal law paragraph on sedition, Section 130 of the Criminal Code (StGB), is very long and a bit confusing. Make the individual paragraphs various behaviors under penalty. Usually these are crimes related to Xenophobia, racism and right-wing extremism stand.

Paragraph 1 No. 1: Disturbing the public peace by calling for hatred and violence

The first alternative course of action that the legislature punishes as sedition is that Call to hatred and violence towards certain groups. Specifically, that means: someone ...

  • disturbs the public peace,
  • by inciting hatred or
  • calls for violence and arbitrary action
  • against national, racial, religious or ethnic groups, Parts of the population or individuals
  • because of their belonging to such a group / population.

With parts of the population are in this context domestic groups meant that due to her ideological or political conviction or through economic or social conditions are particularly recognizable. Victims of sedition can z. B. be foreigners living in Germany, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Germans, soldiers, unemployed or workers.

Section 130 (1) StGB contains two courses of action: inciting hatred and calling for hatred and violence.

  1. At the Incite hatred the perpetrator is concerned with influencing the feelings of others in such a way that they adopt a particularly hostile attitude towards the affected group. This must be Hostility beyond rejection or contempt. Whether the perpetrator actually succeeds is irrelevant for the criminal liability for sedition. This includes e.g. B. Slogans or leaflets that read: "Do not buy from Jews".
  2. With the Incitement to acts of violence the perpetrator indicates to third parties that any person should exercise violence or arbitrary measures against the hostile groups or persons. After that, for example Chases punishable.

Section 130 (1) No. 2 StGB provides special Attacks on human dignity under punishment who oppose the "Victim's core personalityagainst being human as such. These are also regarded as sedition if they are capable of degrading the reputation of a group or part of the population.

For reprehensible reasons, it is important for the perpetrator to to portray other people as particularly inferior, unworthy and despicable.

The Jurisprudence sees this as a given in particular for those perpetrators who deal with the Racial ideology identify or make related statements.

On the other hand, z. B. not every xenophobic expression a rabble-rousing. The poster inscription "Foreign infiltration is a crusade against one's own people", for example, is not punishable as inciting the people because it lacks an invitation to hate or violence against a certain group.

Paragraph 3: Approving, denying and playing down genocide

Also the so-called Auschwitz lie or that Denial of the Holocaust is clearly a hatred of the people. Such statements are no longer covered by freedom of expression. Anyone who denies the Holocaust deliberately spreads falsehoods. Such false assertions of fact or incorrect information are not protected by the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression under Article 5 of the Basic Law (GG).

That represents that Federal Constitutional Court in its decision of April 13, 1994 (1 BvR 23/94, Rn 34) expressly clear:

The forbidden statement that there was no persecution of Jews in the Third Reich is a factual assertion that has been proven to be untrue according to countless eyewitness reports and documents, the findings of the courts in numerous criminal proceedings and the findings of visual science. […] An assertion of this content therefore does not enjoy the protection of freedom of expression.

More generally speaking, it is considered to be sedition Section 130 (3) of the Criminal Code

  • each taking place in public or in a meeting
  • Approving, denying, or belittling
  • one "under the rule of Act committed by National Socialism in the manner specified in Section 6 (1) of the International Criminal Code“,
  • that is likely to disturb the public peace.

The trivializing, approving and denying of the Holocaust is since 1994 through the sedition paragraph forbidden.

Paragraph 4: Approval of the National Socialist rule of violence and arbitrariness

In year 2005 the legislature added a new paragraph 4 to the offense of sedition. The reason was that increasing number of right-wing extremist gatherings.

In terms of their design, choice of topics and venue, these increasingly resembled the historical marches of the Nazi regime. As an example, let us take the annual events Rudolf Hess memorial marches of the neo-Nazi scene called.

According to § 130 Abs. 4 StGB is considered hatred of every ...

  • public or gathering
  • Approve, glorify, or justify
  • the national socialist Force and arbitrariness
  • in a "the dignity of the victims hurtful way“.

The Federal Constitutional Court Incidentally, has this part of the criminal offense expressly for constitutionally explained. In his decision of November 4th, 2009 (1 BvR 2150/08) the judges give historical reasons. The National Socialist rule brought injustice and horror across Europe and many other countries, which defy all categories.

The Creation of the Federal Republic with its constitution is as Counter-draft to understand this. That is why the freedom of opinion guaranteed in Article 5 of the Basic Law allows exceptions to the “prohibition of the special right for opinion-related laws” for statements that propagandistically approve of violence and arbitrariness of the Nazi regime.

Protection of public peace

In all of the aforementioned cases Incitement of the people only then before if the respective act "capable of disturbing the public peace“.

This very vague legal concept of public peace thinks a peaceful coexistence of all - no matter how different - population groups, without that people face Arbitrariness, violence and the Violation of their human dignity have to fear. What that means in concrete terms is difficult to put into words.

But everyone can guess what it means when the public peace is lost, the company of Threats and violence is incited and Hatred between the different religious, ethnic and national Population groups prevails.

Incitement of the People: Examples and Judgments on the Limits to Freedom of Expression

By xenophobic provocations and increasingly heated discussions, the basic right of freedom of expression is being put to the test. On hateful comments terror and evil deeds can follow. For this reason alone, the question arises where the Limits to Freedom of Expression are to be drawn. This is not always easy to answer.

The fact is that the Freedom of (opinion) ends where it interferes with the freedoms of others. In Germany this means, among other things, that freedom of expression is restricted where the “opinion” consists in the glorification of National Socialism, in the denial or approval of the Holocaust or agitation against minorities.

It turns out to be more difficult Classification of hateful comments on the Internet as sedition. The following overview juxtaposes some offenses that are punishable or not necessarily seditious. Still must every individual case is always carefully considered and assessed become.

SeditionNo incitement to hatred
Designation as "subhuman" or "inferior human being" The right of residence is denied to foreigners
People are put on the same level as animals or things, e.g. B .: "Disgusting, these half-apes" or "ungrateful sewer rats"NPD election campaign poster with the slogan "Migration kills"
(BVerfG, decision of May 24, 2019, Az .: 1 BvQ 45/19)
Slogans like “Turks out” or “Jews out”, combined with Nazi symbolism or a militant demeanorSlogans like "Turks out" or "Jews out"
Election advertising by the NPD, in which the party claims that Germans have been "victims of foreign knife men almost every day since the arbitrary opening of the border in 2015 and the uncontrolled mass immigration since then".
(Decision of April 27, 2019, Az. 1 BvQ 36/19)
Statements by AfD politician Björn Höcke about the "Monument of Shame" (Holocaust Memorial) and the "stupid coping policy"

Hate speech on Facebook and hate speech on the internet

A current topic is still so-called Hate postings on social media. Many of these statements fall under freedom of expression, even if they are politically incorrect, scandalous or xenophobic. It always depends on the context in which someone expresses himself. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right that also protects pointed, polemical, provocative and very drastic statements.

Hate comments are first and foremost Insults, Threats, xenophobic expressions and Coercions. You then meet the offense of sedition if the commentator is thereby the Human dignity of others attacks or his statements meet the conditions set out above.

Because of sedition on Facebook, for example, these two men have each other punishable made:

  • A man posted this on Facebook Image of Adolf Hitler and wrote the following: "Filthy syrer pack, just slaughter the pigs, our taxes are squandered and we have to pay food allowance for our children ”. He was fined for sedition and the use of marks of unconstitutional organizations.
  • A former professional soldier verbally abused foreigners and refugees on Facebook. He commented i.a. one Article about an Arab shoplifter: „At some point even the criminal government pack will notice that integration has gone completely wrong for this villain and that this vermin only wants our money. Because if they really needed help, gratitude looks very different in my opinion.“The ex-soldier was sentenced to a fine for sedition (decision of 07.09.2017; Az. 4 RVs 103/17).

What can I do about hate speech?

First, you should make such hateful commentsreport to the respective social network. Due to the Network Search Act (NetzDG), they are obliged to delete clearly illegal content within 24 hours. You can also use a Report of incitement to hatred reimburse.

Anyone who is personally affected by inflammatory comments and statements can also appear before the civil court Failure to do so and damages complain. However, that will then difficultif the perpetrator is anonymous on the Internet.

Hate speech via WhatsApp

Are also punishable Inciting notes and photosthat someone for example in a WhatsApp group Splits. The fact that this is an internal group does not protect the perpetrator from punishment. This is proven by the so-called Giemaul trial from Würzburg.

In this criminal case, a former carnival official had to answer for sedition. He spread one in a WhatsApp group Picture that showed a Bundeswehr soldier - with the Submachine gun at the ready. Below the comment: "The fastest German asylum procedure rejects 1,400 applications per minute.

The man, who was sentenced to a fine of 7,200 euros in June 2019, saw no incitement to hatred. Rude jokes are always the order of the day in the group. The However, the district court did not accept this protective claim.

Every user of social networks should think carefully about the message behind his post before posting, and consider that too Content from a closed group at any time forwarded and can be spread.

Incitement to hatred: sentence and sentencing

Anyone who receives a criminal complaint for hate speech must, depending on the offense, with a Fine or imprisonment calculate. Section 130 of the Criminal Code provides for the following penalties in particular:

OffensePenalty limits
Incitement to hatred or incitement to violence and arbitrariness against certain groups (Paragraph 1 No. 1)Imprisonment from three months to five years
Attack on human dignity (Paragraph 1 No. 2)Imprisonment from three months to five years
Approving, denying and playing down genocide - especially denial of the Holocaust (para. 3)Fine or imprisonment up to five years
Approval or glorification of the National Socialist rule of violence and arbitrariness (Paragraph 4)Fine or imprisonment of up to three years

Danger! Young people also have to answer for hate speech. The juvenile criminal law provides for various forms of measures. The judge can z. B. the Edition grant that the perpetrator has to pay a certain amount of money for the benefit of a non-profit organization. In the worst case, one comes too Youth penalty in jail under consideration. However, this is the last resort if due to the "harmful addiction of the youngster“Or the severity of the guilt, other measures would no longer suffice (Section 17 (2) of the Youth Courts Act).

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Incitement of the masses and the limits of freedom of expression
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