German Basic Law, Article 5


In terms of the human rights protections in the German Basic Law (Constitution), Article 5, section 1, is notable for its protection of the freedom of speech.

The original German is:
Artikel 5 Meinungsfreiheit
(1) Jeder hat das Recht, seine Meinung in Wort, Schrift und Bild frei zu


Today I received this analysis from a correspondent in Germany:

Most articles of the German Basic Law referring to foreigners and Germans use terms like “jeder” (everyone, every person), or “niemand” (no one), or Deutscher (a single person of German nationality). The term “alle Deutschen” would of course mean all German people.

Those articles are the Menschenrechte (human rights, e.g. articles 1 to 7). Articles referring to Germans only use the term “alle Deutschen” (all Germans) and are called Buergerrechte (literally it means “citizens’ rights”; or we might say “civil rights”). By the way, the “ue” in Buergerrechte is actually an u with an “umlaut”.

The fact that some rights are granted to Germans only does not automatically mean that foreigners have no such rights in Germany. It does mean, however, that there can be laws and regulations restricting those rights for foreigners. A good example is Article 12, 1st paragraph: There are more restrictions for foreigners who want to work in Germany than for Germans. This sort of “discrimination” would be impossible with any of the human rights articles.

There are some international and European agreements granting further rights to foreigners. For example, Articles 22 and 23 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights grant the rights of assembly and association to everyone while those are civil rights for Germans only in the GBL (article 8 and 9).

I hope this information is useful.


You made a nice choice with Artikel 5, Richard. I told you before it looks good on the paper, but in reality…
Let me show you the limits of those basic rights: According to that paragraph, I may freely choose the source of my informations as long it is “generally accessible”. Europeans will know “Astra”, which is used to name both a group of TV satellites and the company operating them. To receive stations broadcasted through these satellites one only needs a dish (30cm in Luxemburg ~ 200cm in Hungary iirc, in Germany 50~60cm are sufficient) and a simple receiver which should be available as set now for less than 100 Euro. Beside a number of scrambled stations there are many unscrambled stations, including many from Germany. Except a general fee you have to pay for each tv set or radio (in Germany), there would be no additional cost.
Unfortuantely, many landlords regard satellite dishes as ugly and don’t like them on their nice houses. They want people to use cable instead. With cable however, you can’t freely choose which channels you want, usually there are only a “basic” and a “full” package, but the channels included in both will vary almost everywhere. And: You have to pay - starting from about five Euro each month even for the most basic (about eight channels) package.
Now I have one source where someone else chooses which stations I may receive and still wants me to pay each month and another one where of course I don’t decide about the assignment of transponders, but where I have a much wider choice - plus no additional costs.
Now, if you go to a court to get the permission for a dish, your request will almost always be denied - because cable is considered “sufficient”. The only exceptions: Foreigners (most stations in the cable are german) who want to receive broadcasts in their native language and (sometimes) Germans who have a special need to receive foreign stations (interpreters and the like). But if you only want to receive german tv for “free” (Its not that free anyway…) or a german station not in your local cable package - no way.