In one of the biggest rallies in years in Munich, an alliance of dozens of political parties and civil society groups gathered at the city’s Odeonsplatz to protest against the new version of Bavaria’s Police Tasks Bill (PAG), which is set to be put to a vote on May 15th in the state assembly.
Calling their movement “noPAG,” the demonstrators claimed that the bill is draconian and warned that it would be a “massive attack” on fundamental rights and democracy. On Thursday they demanded that the state’s ruling Christian Social Union (CSU) end its controversial legislative package.
“We're demonstrating loud but peacefully,” said Simon Strohmenger of the noPAG, which put the rally turnout as high as 40,000.
The Bavarian parliament passed a new law on police tasks last summer which is intended to significantly extend the powers of the police.
But critics say the law gives the police too much power particularly when it comes to surveillance, warning that it could become a blueprint for harsh policing nationwide. They argue that the law could give Bavarian police extended powers to intervene even before offences have taken place, making use, for instance, of online surveillance and genetic DNA analyses.
The CSU on the other hand argues the intended law update only implements the EU's new data privacy directive and a German constitutional court ruling. The Bavarian sister party of the Christian Democrats (CDU) believe that the law would make it easier for police when tracking suspected terrorists.
Due to criticism over the bill, the CSU parliamentary group at the end of April made some reforms. For instance, intelligent video surveillance should no longer include face recognition.