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German Politicians Propose Internet Registry for Sex Offenders

 13 October 2006 

After a 39-year-old woman was recently raped and murdered in Bayreuth by a repeated sex offender, both liberal and conservative politicians have recommended starting an Internet registry based on the US model.

In the US, the Internet-based "National Alert Registry" allows users to enter their zip code and access a list of registered sex offenders in their area, complete with address and color photo. German politicians from the left-wing Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) have proposed a similar initiative. 

"The victims have to live with the crime for their whole lives and I think it's fair that the offenders should also have to live with it," Hamburg's SPD leader Mathias Petersen told Bild Zeitung daily on Thursday. 

Dorothee Bär, a CSU parliamentarian, also backs the proposal. 

"The security of our children should come before data protection," she said.

Kristina Köhler, Bär's colleague from partner party CDU and member of the Bundestag's interior committee, added that the legal basis of the American model would have to be examined before being implemented in Germany.

Bayreuth murder spurred "black list" proposal

Demands for the Internet registry follow the rape and murder of a 39-year-old nurse in Bayreuth.

The alleged offender had been convicted of rape, kidnapping and extortionate robbery five year earlier. Though he had been sentenced to eight years in prison, he was released in September 2006.

In light of the Bayreuth murder, Bavarian CSU leader Joachim Herrmann made an appeal this week for a "black list" for errant prisoner evaluators that approve the release of dangerous criminals.

However, not all members of the governing coalition support an Internet registry for sex offenders.

Drawbacks to a public registry

"Publishing names and addresses on the Internet takes away the possibility of starting over -- even after the offender has already served his time," Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries told AFP on

SPD parliamentarian Dieter Wiefelspütz said that the proposed registry would "open the shooting ground" instead of providing increased security, according to a Spiegel Online report. In spring 2006, the state of Maine removed its Internet registry after two registered sex offenders on the public list were shot to death.

What's more, the constitutionality of the registry has come into question.

Peter M. Huber, a constitutional lawyer in Munich called the proposal "constitutionally highly problematic" and said that sex offenders also had a "right to self-determination of information," wrote Spiegel Online.

Young politicians demand life sentence

At the other end of the spectrum members of Bavaria's Youth Union (JU), a branch of the CSU, have suggested that public humiliation isn't harsh enough for sex offenders.

The JU advocates life-long sentences for first time sex offenders and preventative detention for violent sex offenders, said JU leader Manfred Weber.

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