German minister calls for taser use ahead of potential violent year-end celebrations

BERLIN, Dec 24: Police throughout Germany should be equipped with tasers, Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said on Saturday ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations that have turned violent in recent years. 

In a letter to Berlin’s Justice Senator Felor Bandenberg, who currently chairs the justice ministers’ conference of the country’s 16 states, Buschmann wrote that issuing the electrical shock devices to officers did not require a change to legislation.

“What is required is to make determined use of this instrument. Difficulties in identifying criminal actors cannot be alleviated by increasing the rules for punishment,” Buschmann wrote.

The federal justice minister pointed to the outcome of a trial requested by state justice ministers following violence during New Year celebrations last year. Berlin, Essen and Hanover were particularly affected.

The best possible equipment should be provided to police officers, Buschmann wrote, arguing that evidence suggested that tasers had a preventive effect. Rhineland-Palatinate was the first German state to introduce the devices at the end of 2018.

The devices operate at a distance of between two and five metres, delivering an electric shock to the target who is incapacitated.

After riots broke out in a number of German cities – in Berlin, in particular – in response to events in Gaza since Oct 7, German authorities have expressed concern that activists could make use of often chaotic New Year’s Eve celebrations to mount attacks on police and emergency service personnel.