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Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The law provides for freedom of assembly, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, outlawed organizations were not permitted to hold public assemblies. Permits must be obtained for open-air public rallies and marches, and state and local officials have the authority to deny such permits when public safety concerns arise or when outlawed organizations attempt to hold public assemblies. For example, in August rallies and marches by neo-Nazis and rightwing extremists commemorating the death of Nazi official Rudolf Hess were prohibited by a court in Bavaria, but the Federal Constitutional Court upheld the extremists' right to assemble and advised police to ensure that the assembly did not endanger public safety.
The law provides for freedom of association, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, the Basic Law and the Association Law permit the banning of organizations whose activities were found to be illegal or opposed to the constitutional democratic order as established by the Basic Law. The Federal Constitutional Court is the only body that can outlaw political parties on these grounds. Federal or state governments may ban other organizations on these grounds, but legal recourse against such decisions is available. Such banned organizations included a number of groups that authorities generally classified as rightwing or leftwing, foreign extremist, or criminal in nature. Several hundred organizations were under observation by the federal and state OPCs (see Section 1.f.).
On October 28, more than 300 police officers raided homes and meeting places of suspected neo-Nazi groups in Schleswig-Holstein. Police found weapons and arrested several people suspected of "forming a politically motivated criminal organization." The suspects were associated with the international neo-Nazi group Combat 18.
A commission of experts examined whether evidence against the rightwing extremist National Democratic Party (NPD) met the threshold to support a legal ban, which was widely demanded after a surge of rightwing extremist activity in 2000. In March, the Court dismissed separate petitions by the Bundestag and Bundesrat for the banning of the NPD because of flaws in the Government's case. In January, Interior Minister Otto Schily used his executive authority to ban the Islamic extremist organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir.
In October, the Federal Constitutional Court rejected the appeal and upheld the ban on the Islamic extremist organization "Caliphate State," exhausting the organization's legal remedies. The "Caliphate State" had appealed the Interior Minister's 2001 ruling banning the organization. Metin Kaplan, former head of the "Caliphate State," was released from prison in May after serving a 4-year sentence for calling for the killing of an opponent. Authorities have denied Turkey's extradition request for Kaplan, who was wanted in Turkey for terrorism-related charges, on the grounds of uncertainty that a fair trial would take place in Turkey. The Higher Regional Administrative Court in Muenster was deciding an appeal on whether Kaplan could be granted asylum, or be deported to Turkey at year's end. Kaplan was not allowed to travel outside of Cologne and was required to report regularly to police.
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