Have the authorities failed in Amri case?

Anis Amri, who is suspected of being responsible for the Berlin attack, was under surveillance in Germany for several months on suspicion of planning an attack. Before that, according to media reports, he was in prison in Italy. These latest reports have sparked a debate about whether the authorities have failed.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

The law is harsh, it just needs to be applied

The debate must focus on the failures of the authorities rather than on tightening asylum policy, the Süddeutsche Zeitung comments in view of the investigation's latest findings:

“The account of the instruments that weren't used is important because it will show that the law doesn't need to be turned upside down to catch individuals who pose a threat: it can be done if the will is there. … The law is harsh; but it must be applied. Amri's case had nothing more to do with refugee law in recent months (contrary to how the situation is perceived in the public debate). The refugee law worked as it should do: the man's application for asylum was rejected pretty quickly, back in June 2016. Since then the laws concerning foreigners in general have applied, but the authorities made a series of mistakes. The legal instruments for dealing with foreigners were there, but the authorities failed to make use of them.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

Europe is making things too easy for terrorists

When you read about how the Berlin attack suspect was able to cross borders unchecked it is hardly surprising that people are uneasy, Salzburger Nachrichten observes:

“The list of hurdles that stand in the way of cooperation among Europe's various security services is a long one. These hurdles must be removed as soon as possible. Technically this is possible. What is clearly lacking is the political will. The internal security problems of individual states have become a grave danger for a Europe without borders. No state can accept terrorists and criminals being able to move freely from one country to another in a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Unless effective European cooperation mechanisms are put in place, soon no one will be able to travel through Europe without controls anymore. Our (as yet) open society is being called into question. The prerequisite for an open society is a strong state that is able to guarantee peace and security everywhere and at all times.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Total security only possible with drones

De Standaard emphasises that the authorities cannot guarantee total security:

“Most police services have to recognise the bitter truth that they can’t provide complete surveillance. Time and again suspects slip through the net. ... Citizens find that particularly disturbing. Politicians will call for a tougher approach, more cameras, a Patriot Act, preventive measures, armed services. Germany, too, will no doubt conduct an investigation into the authorities’ behaviour. Perhaps mistakes were made. But as the Belgian parliamentary committee investigating the attacks of 22 March found out: it’s not easy to find a scapegoat. Only drones can provide total security . But we don’t want to live in that kind of world. To be free and to remain free even under tragic circumstances we have to be realistic. ”

Pravda (SK) /

Berlin mustn't plunge Europe into uncertainty

Pravda calls on the German government to respond more decisively and quickly to terrorism:

“The Germans become fixated on conducting a thorough analysis of events instead of focussing on finding practical solutions. They can’t deal with uncertainty. 'German Angst' is also an obstacle to international anti-terrorism agreements. Merkel needs to clearly present her ideas about how to fight terrorism so that the whole of Europe doesn’t have to live in a state of insecurity. And then she needs to push those ideas through at the international level. ... Not just the German chancellor but Europe as a whole can’t spend forever trying to come up with a common concept on how to combat terrorism - even if no one is prepared to admit it.”

ABC (ES) /

Liberal Germany is standing in its own way

The weakness of the German police is hindering effective counter-terrorism, ABC explains:

“None of the German police chiefs wants to be seen as harsh. The organisations that help illegal refugees and immigrants are very aware of this weakness. They are infiltrated by ideological, ethnic and mafia groups and they know full well that by spreading rumours that a police chief is racist or a right-wing extremist they can destroy him. … The fear of being labelled a Nazi is what has politicised the police most since the 1970s. … This same fear of acccusations of being like the Gestapo or the Stasi is impeding the use of cameras in the streets of the cities, one of the most effective surveillance tools, which is omnipresent in British cities for example. … No other country is as firmly entrenched in the liberal state dogmas and convictions of the second half of the 20th century as Germany is. And this is dramatically curtailing society's ability to defend itself.”