Renegade flights and the tragic choice: must the State sacrifice innocent people?
A short view to German and European Right to life
I). Introduction September 11 has introduced a new threat: civil airplanes instrumentalized by terrorists as ‘flying bombs’, used against skyscrapers as well as (in future?) against sport arenas or nuclear power plants. Those ‘renegade’ flights (term used by NATO) will end deadly for the passengers on board and the people in the target areas. How should authorities respond to a situation as tragic as this? President George W. Bush had granted the permit to take renegade planes off the sky as early as the morning of September 11 in order to protect at least the people not on the plane. 1 The German Bundestag followed this intuition and enacted the ‘Luftsicherheitsgesetz’ (LuftSiG) on January 11th 2005. 2 It allows the use of force of arms as a last measure to rescue the people on the ground (Sec. 14 para. 3 LuftSiG). From its early beginning, this provision provoked a fundamental and emotional debate among scholars about the limits of state authority. 3 Finally the German Federal Constitutional Court overruled this provision by deciding it was contradicting to constitutional norms on February 15th 2006. 4
Bob Woodward, Bush at War. Amerika im Krieg, 2nd ed., Stuttgart a.o. 2003, 32. The LuftSiG transposed the EU directive 2320/2002 dating from 16.12.2002 into national law. 3 Alexander Archangelskij, Das Problem des Lebensnotstandes am Beispiel des Abschusses eines von Terroristen entführten Flugzeuges, Berlin 2005, Manfred Baldus, Streitkräfteeinsatz zur Gefahrenabwehr im Luftraum, in: Neue Zeitschrift für Verwaltungsrecht (NVwZ) 2004, 1278 f., Anke Borsdorf / Christian Deyda, Luftsicherheitsgesetz für die Bundespolizei, 1st ed., Lübeck 2005, 107 f., Peter Dreist, Terroristenbekämpfung als Streitkräfteauftrag – zu den verfassungsrechtlichen Grenzen polizeilichen Handelns der Bundeswehr im Innern, in: Neue Zeitschrift für Wehrrecht (NZWehr) 2004, 89 f., idem, Einsatz der Bundeswehr im Innern – Das Luftsicherheitsgesetz als Anlass zum verfassungsrechtlichen Nachdenken, in: Ulrich Blaschke a.o. (edit.), Sicherheit statt Freiheit? Staatliche Handlungsspielräume in extremen Gefährdungslagen, Berlin 2005, 77 f., idem, Offene Rechtsfragen des Einsatzes bewaffneter deutscher Streitkräfte, in: Neue Zeitschrift für Wehrrecht (NZWehr) 2002, 133 f., Michael Droege, Die Zweifel des Bundespräsidenten - Das Luftsicherheitsgesetz und die überforderte Verfassung, in: Neue Zeitschrift für Wehrrecht (NZWehr) 2005, 199 f., Christof Gramm, Bundeswehr als Luftpolizei: Aufgabenzuwachs ohne Verfassungsänderung? In: NZWehr 2003, 89 f., Torsten Hartleb, Der neue § 14 III LuftSiG und das Grundrecht auf Leben, in: Neue Juristische Wochenschrift (NJW) 2005, 1397 f., Friedhelm Hase, Das Luftsicherheitsgesetz: Abschuss von Flugzeugen als Hilfe bei einem Unglücksfall? in: DÖV 2006, 213 f., Eric Hilgendorf, Tragische Fälle, Extremsituationen und strafrechtlicher Notstand, in: Ulrich Blaschke a.o. (edit.), Sicherheit statt Freiheit? Staatliche Handlungsspielräume in extremen Gefährdungslagen, Berlin 2005, 107 f., Burkhard Hirsch, Schutz des Luftverkehrs durch ein Luftsicherheitsgesetz? In: Zeitschrift für Rechtspolitik (ZRP) 2004, 273 f., Martin Hochhuth, Militärische Bundesintervention bei inländischem Terrorakt, in: NZWehr 2002. 155 f., Wolfram Höfling / Steffen Augsberg, Luftsicherheit, Grundrechtsregime und Ausnahmezustand, in: Juristen Zeitung (JZ) 2005, 1080 f., Stefan Huster, Zählen Zahlen? Zur Kontroverse um das Luftsicherheitsgesetz, in: Merkur Vol. 58 (2004), 1047 f., Jens Kersten, Die Tötung von Unbeteiligten, in: Neue Zeitschrift für Verwaltungsrecht (NVwZ) 2005, 661 f., Eckart Klein, Die vorsätzliche Tötung unbeteiligter Personen durch den Staat, in: Recht – Kultur – Finanzen, Festschrift für Reinhard Mußgnug zum 70. Geburtstag, Heidelberg 2005, 71 f., Günther Krings / Christian Burkiczak, Bedingt abwehrbereit? in: Die Öffentliche Verwaltung (DÖV) 2002, 501 f., idem, Sicherer Himmel per Gesetz? In: Nordrhein-Westfälische Verwaltungsblätter (NWVBl) 2004, 249 f., Tobias Linke, Zur Rolle des Art. 35 GG in dem Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Neuregelung von Luftsicherheitsaufgaben, in: Neue Zeitschrift für Wehrrecht (NZWehr) 2002, 115 f., idem, Verfassungswid2
On the occasion of the Federal Courts ruling this research paper will examine, whether sacrificing a group of people in order to protect others might or even should be considered an appropriate method for authorities. The limits of governmental authority will first be exemplified for German Constitutional Law, particularly by looking at the mentioned verdict of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court. We will see that German Constitutional Law follows a strict deontological ethic and denies weighing up one life against others (II.). We will then take a short view to the UN-Charter (III.) before turning the attention towards International Human Rights Law, especially to art. 2 of the ECHR (IV.). This provision, as we will see, does not allow the deprivation of life in renegade cases either. Our first legal approach will subsequently be discussed by applying German and Anglo-American ethic standards trying to confirm this legal practice (V.). As this result only mirrors the ethic and legal position of a ‘normal’ situation, we finally see that arguing with a ‘public emergency’ could be a relevant instrument to justify the use of force in a renegade case (VI.). We conclude with some notes on the limits of such exceptions (VII.).
rige Wahrnehmung luftpolizeilicher Aufgaben durch die Bundeswehr? in: Die Öffentliche Verwaltung (DÖV) 2003, 890 f., Klaus Lüderssen, Kriegsrecht in Deutschland? in: Strafverteidiger (StV) 2005, 106 f., Christian Lutze, Abwehr terroristischer Angriffe als Verteidigungsaufgabe der Bundeswehr, in: NZWehr 2003, 101 f., José Martínez Soria, Polizeiliche Verwendung und Grenzen eines Einsatzes der Bundeswehr im Innern, in: Deutsches Verwaltungsblatt (DVBl) 2004, 597 f., Anton Meyer, Wirksamer Schutz des Luftverkehrs durch ein Luftsicherheitsgesetz? in: Zeitschrift für Rechtspolitik (ZRP) 2004, 203 f., Wolfgang Mitsch, „Luftsicherheitsgesetz“ – Die Antwort des Rechts auf den „11. September 2001“, in: Juristische Rundschau (JR) 2005, 274 f., idem, Abschusserlaubnis nach § 14 III LuftSiG, in: ZRP 2005, 243, idem, Die Legalisierung staatlich angeordneter Tötung von Terror-Geiseln, in: Leviathan Vol. 33 (2005), 279 f., Kerstin Odendahl, Der Umgang mit Unbeteiligten im Recht der Gefahrenabwehr: Das Luftsicherheitsgesetz als verfassungsgemäßer Paradigmenwechsel? in: Die Verwaltung 2005, 425 f., Katja Paulke, Die Abwehr von Terrorgefahren im Luftraum, Hamburg 2005, Michael Pawlik, § 14 Abs. 3 des Luftsicherheitsgesetzes – ein Tabubruch? in: Juristen Zeitung (JZ) 2004, 1045 f., Bodo Pieroth / Bodo J. Hartmann, Der Abschuss eines Zivilflugzeugs auf Anordnung des Bundesministers für Verteidigung, in: Juristische Ausbildung (JURA) 2005, 729 f., Henriette Sattler, Terrorabwehr durch die Streitkräfte nicht ohne Grundgesetzänderung, in: Neue Zeitschrift für Verwaltungsrecht (NVwZ) 2004, 1286 f., Wolfgang Schäuble, Die neue Bedrohung und die Antwort des Notstandrechts, in: Europäische Grundrechte-Zeitschrift (EuGRZ) 2005, 294 f., Otto Schily, Das Notstandsrecht des Grundgesetzes und die Herausforderungen der Zeit, in: Europäische Grundrechte-Zeitschrift (EuGRZ) 2005, 290 f., Bernhard Schlink, An der Grenze des Rechts, in: Der Spiegel 3 / 2005, 34 f., Arndt Sinn, Tötung Unschuldiger auf Grund § 14 III Luftsicherheitsgesetz – rechtmäßig? in: Neue Zeitschrift für Strafrecht (NStZ) 2004, 585 f., Ulrich Sittard / Martin Ulbrich, Fortgeschrittenenklausur – Öffentliches Recht: Das Luftsicherheitsgesetz, in: Juristische Schulung (JuS) 2005, 432 f., Torsten Stein, Rechtssicherheit aus einer Hand? in: Recht – Kultur – Finanzen, Festschrift für Reinhard Mußgnug zum 70. Geburtstag, Heidelberg 2005, 85 f., Stehen Olaf Welding, Ist das Luftsicherheitsgesetz fragwürdig? in: Recht und Politik Vol. 41 (2005), 165 f., Peter Winkelmann, Terroristische Angriffe auf die Sicherheit des Luftverkehrs, in: NVwZ 2002, 1316 f., Heinrich Amadeus Wolff, Der verfassungsrechtliche Rahmen für den Einsatz der Bundeswehr im Innern zur Terrorismusbekämpfung und zum Schutz ziviler Objekte, in: Thüringische Verwaltungsblätter (ThürVBl) 2003, 176 f., Thomas Würtemberger / Dirk Heckmann, Polizeirecht in Baden-Württemberg, 6th ed., Heidelberg 2005, 50 f. 4 BVerfG, 1 BvR 357/05 vom 15.2.2006, para. 1 - 156 = NJW 2006, 751 f. = DVBl 2006, 433 f. = JZ 2006, 408 f. or under http://www.bverfg.de/entscheidungen/rs20060215_1bvr035705.html (20.04.2006); first comments on the ruling by Christian Starck, JZ 2006, 417 f. and Wolf-Rüdiger Schenke, Die Verfassungswidrigkeit des § 14 III LuftSiG, in: NJW 2006, 736 f.
II). Right to life in the German Constitution: the latest ruling of the German Federal Constitutional Court 1) The legal surrounding of the judgement The LuftSiG meant a paradigm shift to German law. On the one hand, up to then German Police Law only allowed to endanger but not to kill innocent or uninvolved people. For example: if peacebreakers are attacking authorities or civilians out of a crowd, police may not use force of arms before it has given the chance to escape to the friendly people within the crowd. 5 But in a renegade case there is no possibility to escape out of the cabin and the passengers will lose their life - in contrast to a pure endangering. On the other hand, German Law only concentrated on killing offenders as last measure, the hostage-taker could be killed to rescue the victim, etc. 6 The legal perspective to sacrifice innocent people the German legislator first noticed after the terrorist threats of 9/11. Consequently the parliamentary debate about the LuftSiG was deeply influenced by the impressions of the renegade flights from September 2001. 7 2) Argument of the Federal Constitutional Court However, the German Federal Constitutional Court did not seem to be very impressed by the answer of the German ‘Bundestag’ to the questions raised by the incidents of 9/11. The Court subtended a clear dictum to the right to pick off airplanes in renegade cases: it thereby follows its prevailing jurisdiction that an individual may not be turned into an ‘object’ of governmental authority. Since the passengers on board of an aircraft - in a Renegade case - cannot decide their fate, the decision to take down the aircraft would violate the fundamental right to life ‘with regard to human dignity’. 8 The right to life would be the ‘vital basis’ of human dignity and a ‘fundamental principle’ of the constitution.9 The Senate concedes that the LuftSiG has a legal objective by trying to rescue the people in the target areas. It also admits that there is probably no softer instrument to achieve this objective. Even stricter passenger controls before or the use of ‘Sky Marshals’ during the flight would be less effective. 10 But there would be a lack in justifying the use of arms against innocent people even as a last measure: first the Federal Court condemns any opinion that assigns an inferior value to the life of the passengers including the situation in which they have no hope for rescue left. Life might be protected by the constitution independent of how long it
Sec. 15 para. 2, Sec. 16 para. 2 Unmittelbares Zwangsgesetz der Bundeswehr (UZwGBW). S. e.g. Sec. 54 para. 3 Polizeigesetz Baden-Württemberg (PolGBW). 7 Cp. Peter Dreist, Einsatz der Bundeswehr im Innern – Das Luftsicherheitsgesetz als Anlass zum verfassungsrechtlichen Nachdenken (fn. 3), 77 f. 8 BVerfG, 1 BvR 357/05 vom 15.2.2006 (fn. 4), 123, 124. 9 Ibid., 119.
will last. 11 Secondly, only the fact of entering the plane does not mean the passengers accept their own killing in case of a renegade flight. Such a presumable consent would be unrealistic and pure fiction. 12 Thirdly, the possibility of an error in evaluating a Renegade situation would prevent the use of force of arms even as a last instrument. In most cases the communication between cockpit and ground control will be interrupted. Accordingly the authorities will neither take notice of motives and targets of the terrorists nor have information about a probable liberation of the cockpit and the plane. 13 Finally, the Constitutional Court provides an important rationale for its ruling: the duty to protect the people on the ground shall stand behind the obligation to respect the life of the passengers. Therefore the people on the ground could not commit the minister of defence to give the firing order. There would rather be a large scope for judgement evaluation how to fulfil the positive obligations of the right to life - even in a renegade case. 14 Under the impression of these arguments the Court denied any license to pick off renegade planes.
III). Renegade case and right to life in European Law 1). Significance of the right to life The Senate consequently refuses weighing up one life against others as it already did in earlier rulings, ‘each life has the same value’ ‘no numeric appreciation of values’ are the keywords. 15 Not only the German Federal Court but also the Human Rights Commission and the European Court of Human Rights call the right to life ‘the most fundamental of all rights’ 16 respectively ‘one of the most fundamental provisions…the basic value of democratic societies’ 17 and therefore it is safeguarded in all relevant conventions. 18 All provisions protecting the right to life in international conventions theoretically include the conflict ‘life against life’, but it has never been decided by a court yet.19 Similar to German Law the deprivation of ter-
Ibid., 148, hierto Katja Paulke, Die Abwehr von Terrorgefahren im Luftraum. Im Spannungsverhältnis zwischen neuen Bedrohungsszenarien und den Einsatzmöglichkeiten der Streitkräfte im Inneren unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Luftsicherheitsgesetzes (fn. 3), 256 f. 11 Ibid., 132, different Kerstin Odendahl, Der Umgang mit Unbeteiligten im Recht der Gefahrenabwehr: Das Luftsicherheitsgesetz als verfassungsgemäßer Paradigmenwechsel? (fn. 3), 447 (‚killing can be proportionally’). 12 Ibid., 131. 13 Ibid., 125 f. 14 Ibid., 135 f., cp. Philipp Kunig, in: Ingo von Münch / Philipp Kunig, Grundgesetz-Kommentar, Band 1, 5th ed., München 2000, Art. 2 para. 56; 15 Basically: Entscheidungen des Bundesverfassungsgerichts, Vol. 39, Tübingen 1975, 58 f. 16 Underlined as early as during the drafting of the UN Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, cp. Manfred Nowak, UN covenant on civil and political rights, CCPR commentary, 2nd ed., Kehl a.o. 2005, Art. 6 para. 1. 17 Mac Cann vs. United Kingdom, A/324, p. 34, para. 147. 18 Cp. Art. 3 UDHR, Art. 6 ICCPR, Art. 2 ECHR, Art. 4 ACHR, Art. 4 ACHPR, Art. 2 CIS, Art. 5 AL. 19 Cp. the commentary literature, e.g. Asbjorn Eide, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a commentary, Oslo 1992, Jochen Frowein / Wolfgang Peukert, Menschenrechtskonvention, EMRK-Kommentar, 2nd ed., Kehl a.o. 1996, Art. 2 [Frowein / Peukert, Art. 2], Nowak (fn. 16.), Art. 6 para. 1 f., Frank Schorkopf, in: Dirk Ehlers
rorists’ life took center stage in the jurisdiction 20 , especially in the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights – the reason, why I’d like to turn the attention to Art. 2 ECHR. 2.) Obligation to secure Art. 2 ECHR forbids depriving someone of his life intentionally, while Art. 2 para. 2 specifies three exceptions, in which deprivation of life ‘shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention to this article’. Two of the three exceptions, when use of force is ‘absolutely necessary’ may be relevant in renegade cases: ‘in defence of any person from unlawful violence’ (lit. a) and ‘in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection’ (lit. c). Primarily, lit. a has the function to effectuate the right to self-defence on the national basis. The right to life engages the European States to protect an individual against violations of a third party. 21 For example it would be disproportional, if a convention State allowed a lethal self-defence just for saving real assets of minor value. 22 The question, who may be deprived of his life, only the offender or the innocent civilian as well, is not regulated in lit. a. Thus the provision cannot help to resolve the tragic conflict ‘life vs. life’. 23 Art. 2 sec. 2, lit. c. does not help either. The provision only deals with civil commotions within a State. An ‘insurrection’ implies a public emergency (see later) or beginnings of a revolution. On the other hand a ‘riot’ expects a gathering with at least 150 people and the individuals taking part in the riot have to commit severe violence. 24 More likely to legally answer the renegade situation is the intuition that the European Court of Human Rights has derived positive obligations from the ECHR provisions. 25 Particularly the right to life contains an ‘obligation to secure’ in favor of the individual. 26 According to the legal practice of the European Court, States must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the right to life is protected within their jurisdiction, for example they have to investigate deaths
(ed.), Europäische Grundrechte und Grundfreiheiten, Berlin 2005, § 15, Rhona K. M. Smith, International Human Rights, New York 2003, 205 f., Otto Triffterer, Commentary on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 1st ed., Baden-Baden 1999, Art. 8 para 1 f. 20 For example in: Mac Cann vs. United Kingdom (fn. 17). 21 Otto Lagodny, in: Wolfram Karl, Internationaler Kommentar zur Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention, Köln a.o. 2004, Art. 2 para 83 f. [Lagodny, in: IntKommEMRK, Art. 2 para 83 f.]. 22 Ibid., para 88. 23 Similar Archangelskij (fn. 3), 122. 24 Christoph Grabenwarter, Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention, München 2003, 155, Lagodny (fn. 21), in: IntKommEMRK, Art. 2 para 99 f. 25 Cp. Languages in education in Belgium, EuGRZ 1975, 298 f. (300), Marckx vs. Belgium, A/31, para 45. Young, James and Webster vs. United Kingdom, A/44, para 49; hereto Cordula Dröge, Positive Verpflichtungen der Staaten in der Europäischen Menschrechtskonvention, Berlin 2003. 26 Kerstin Blau, Neuere Entwicklungen in der Schutzpflichtdogmatik des EGMR am Beispiel der Falles „Vo/Frankreich“, in: Zeitschrift für Europarechtliche Studien (ZEuS) 2005, 397 f., Christoph Grabenwarter, Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention (fn. 24), 142 f., Lagodny (fn. 21), in: IntKommEMRK, Art. 2 para 9 f., Rhona K. M. Smith, International Human Rights, 206 f.
in an open and transparent way. 27 But the States usually have a large ‘margin of appreciation ‘ in fulfilling this obligation, especially in terms of terrorist threats. 28 On the other hand, to effectively safeguard human life against certain menace, the margin of appreciation may be massively limited. 29 This shows that the European Court does not follow a certain doctrine as far as the obligation to secure is concerned. It clarifies that the degree of security depends on the individual case. 30 Albeit, we can find several indications demonstrating that Art. 2 ECHR does not allow the use of force against a civil airplane in renegade situations. In the case Mc Cann vs. United Kingdom, where members of the Irish Republican Army had been shot dead by british special forces, 31 the Court pointed out that art. 2 must be ‘strictly contrued’ 32 and that the national law must ‘strictly control and limit the circumstances’ 33 in which an individual may be deprived of his life by authorities. This strict standard for the use of force is very similar to the German Supreme Courts benchmarks. 34 Subsuming the LuftSiG, presumably the European Court of Human Rights would come to the same result as the German Supreme Court. 35 Particularly, since it also pronounces the liberal perspective of the right to life in contrast to the obligation to secure life. The State is not allowed to deprive the passengers lives in favour of the others, because then the obligation to secure would be overestimated and the liberal function of the right to life (of the passengers) would be disregarded. 36 Besides, it is predominantly accepted that the exceptions of Art. 2 para. 2 ECHR affect the scope of the obligation to secure in Art. 2 para. 1 ECHR. 37 As these exceptions cannot justify the deprivation of the innocent lives, the obligation to secure could not reach fur27
E.g. in the judgements Ergi vs. Turky, 28.07.1998, application no. 23818/94, Velikova vs. Bulgaria, 18.05.2000, application no. 41488/98, Kelly a.o. vs. United Kingdom, 04.05.2001, application no. 30054/96. 28 Cordula Dröge, Positive Verpflichtungen der Staaten in der Europäischen Menschrechtskonvention (fn. 25), 356 f., Benjamin Kneihs, Recht auf Leben und Terrorismusbekämpfung / Anmerkungen zur jüngsten Judikatur des EGMR zu Art. 2 EMRK, in: Christoph Grabenwarter / Rudolf Thienel (ed.), Kontinuität und Wandel der EMRK, Kehl a.o. 1998, 21 f. (23). 29 Benjamin Kneihs, Recht auf Leben und Terrorismusbekämpfung (fn. 28), 28. 30 In: ‚Ärzte für das Leben’ vs. Austria, 21.06.1988, application no. 10126/82. 31 Mc Cann, Farrell and Savage had been suspected of planning a terrorist bomb attack in Gibraltar. The british Special Air Services first observed them and then immediately opened fire, because the armed forces guessed a detonation in front of british barracks. It turned out that the presumable offenders had no bombs, fuses or weapons; see Theodor Schilling, Internationaler Menschenrechtsschutz, Tübingen 2004, 46 f. 32 Mc Cann (fn. 17), para 147. 33 Ibid., para 151. 34 See above page 2 f. (fn. 10 – 13). 35 In Mc Cann the European Court postulates that the State has to give appropriate training, instructions, briefing, etc. to its soldiers (fn. 17, para. 151) and it upbraids that in the special case the british authorities did not arrest the suspects immediately at the border of Gibraltar (para. 203). Thus we see that the ECHR favors the same ‘ultima ratio’ solution as the German Court (fn. 4, para. 148). Further we can verify the parallels in the jurisdiction of the European Court concerning art. 3 ECHR (Chahal vs. United Kingsdom: ‘absolute character’) and the deontological view of the German Court with regard to art. 1 and art. 2 of the German Constitution, see Ulrike Davy, Darf Deutschland wirklich ausnahmsweise foltern? in: Constance Grewe / Christoph Gusy (ed.), Menschenrechte in der Bewährung, Baden-Baden 2005, 177 f. (201 f.). 36 Benjamin Kneihs, Recht auf Leben und Terrorismusbekämpfung (fn. 28), 36.
ther. Finally, the European Court rarely permits pre-emptive measures 38 – and the pick off of a renegade flight must be seen as such a preventive strike. Centralized: Art. 2 ECHR leaves no space for a right to weigh up life against life.
IV). Art. 2 No. 4 UN-Charter On the international level: is there a right to use force in renegade situations deriving from the UN-Charter? Art. 2 no. 4 UN-Charter determine that every UN-member ‘shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity’ of any State. ‘Force’ in this context also means ’measures short of war’ and ‘low intensity conflicts’. Therefore the use of force against an airplane in a renegade situation generally has to be subsumed to Art. 2 no. 4 UNCharter. 39 But the interdiction to use violence is only valid as far as the States are concerned ‘in their international relations’. The use of force within the national borders is not regulated. Territorial sovereignty, and especially air sovereignty, can be implemented by the States themselves. 40 As a result the UN-Charter is not pertinent for the use of force within the national air space – and therefore it must not be referred to Art. 51 UN-Charter. 41
V). Questioning the dogma 1.) Different intuitions Up until now, we see that German and European Law basically deny depriving life in favour of rescuing other lives. This point of view is consistent with the traditional opinion in the German legal doctrine 42 and had also prevailed during the debate about the LuftSiG 43 . None
Frowein / Peukert (fn. 19), Art. 2 para 2, 11, Kneihs (fn. 28), 38. In: Osman vs. United Kingdom, 28.01.1998, application no. 23452/94, see Kerstin Blau, Neuere Entwicklungen in der Schutzpflichtdogmatik des EGMR am Beispiel der Falles „Vo/Frankreich“ (fn. 26), 405. 39 Katja Paulke, Die Abwehr von Terrorgefahren im Luftraum (fn. 3), 44. 40 Cp. Art. 1 of the ‘Convention on International Civil Aviation’ (Chicago Convention) from december 7th 1944, subscribed by 52 States. 41 Christian Tomuschat, Der 11. September 2001 und seine rechtlichen Konsequenzen, in: Europäische Grundrechte-Zeitschrift (EuGRZ) 2001, 535 f. (540). A different question concerns not the States but the personal responsability. An individual, for example the secretary of defence, can be punished by the International Criminal Court, if it commits a ‘war crime’. We are talking about someone who is ‘Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects…which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated’ (Art. 8 no. 2 lit. b (iv) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court). 42 Cp. Udo di Fabio, in: Theodor Maunz / Günter Dürig, Grundgesetz, Kommentar, Band I, Art. 1 – 5, München 2005, Art. 2 para. 40, Wilfried Küper, Tötungsverbot und Lebensnotstand, Juristische Schulung (JuS) 1981, 785 f., Theodor Lenckner, in: Adolf Schönke / Horst Schröder, Strafgesetzbuch, Kommentar, 27th ed., München 2006, § 34 para. 24, Robert Nozick, Anarchie, Staat, Utopia, München 1974, 43 f. 43 Cp. Torsten Hartleb, Der neue § 14 III LuftSiG und das Grundrecht auf Leben (fn. 3), 1398 f., Eric Hilgendorf, Tragische Fälle, Extremsituationen und strafrechtlicher Notstand (fn. 3), 122 f., Wolfram Höfling / Steffen Augsberg, Luftsicherheit, Grundrechtsregime und Ausnahmezustand (fn. 3), 1083 f., Jens Kersten, Die Tötung von Unbeteiligten (fn. 3), 663, Bodo Pieroth / Bodo J. Hartmann, Der Abschuss eines Zivilflugzeugs auf Anordnung des Bundesministers für Verteidigung (fn. 3), 729, Arndt Sinn, Tötung Unschuldiger auf Grund § 14 III Luftsicherheitsgesetz – rechtmäßig? (fn. 3), 585 f.
the less some authors disagreed with the rigorous view of the prevailing opinion. 44 And earlier Günter Dürig pointed out that in such a tragic situation – when one life should be weighed up against others - the legal system could only protect one group of lives. Consequently in extreme situations killing could be constitutional. 45 Further, on the international level, mainly in the US, ‘collateral damages’ do not seem to impress intellectual minds. For instance sixty prominent US-academics expressed their moral assistance to President George W. Bush and his ‘War on Terror’. 46 Obviously there is a moral intuition to sacrifice innocent people in extreme situations. American and British Criminal Law confirm this estimation: ‘necessity’ can justify a numeric consideration of lives. 47 Finally we know that life has for each individual a different value – terrorist suicide bombing cynically shows it. Life as a ‘maximum value’ 48 might then be just an assertion without substance. 2.) More lives can be saved A first legal, to some extent moral philosophical, argument to substantiate this contradictory judgment could be the fact that more lives will be saved, if – in a renegade case - the airplane will be taken down, for example 200 passengers are airborne and 20.000 are situated in a sport arena. At least the people in the target area would survive. If we subscribed to this view, we consequently would have to ask, who might benefit from a higher number of survivors. The only possible answer: the society itself, cultural and academic progress, conservation of the own species, evolution. 49 Nevertheless we have to reply that the legal system has not the function to maximize goods or the population, but to protect individual rights.50 Otherwise destruction of own objects and suicide would have to be punished – unrealistic in western legal orders. 51 However, the worst consequence of utilitarian view is a right of the State to qualify human life. Not only in renegade cases but also when it is about euthanasia or organ transplantation. It’s just a thin line to sacrificing elder and morbid for younger and healthier
Anke Borsdorf / Christian Deyda, Luftsicherheitsgesetz für die Bundespolizei, (fn. 3), 113, Stefan Huster, Zählen Zahlen? (fn. 3), 1050, Otto Schily, Das Notstandsrecht des Grundgesetzes und die Herausforderungen der Zeit (fn. 3), 293, Steen Olaf Welding, Ist das Luftsicherheitsgesetz fragwürdig? in: Recht und Politik Vol. 41 (2005), 165 f., in case of a constitutional revision: Friedhelm Hase, Das Luftsicherheitsgesetz: Abschuss von Flugzeugen als Hilfe bei einem Unglücksfall? (fn. 3), 218, Wolfgang Schäuble, Die neue Bedrohung und die Antwort des Notstandrechts (fn. 3), 296. 45 Günter Dürig, in: Theodor Maunz / Günter Dürig, Grundgesetz, Kommentar, Band I, München 2000, Art. 2 para. 15. 46 See Lothar Fritze, Die Tötung Unschuldiger. Ein Dogma auf dem Prüfstand, Berlin 2004, 21 and Ted Honderich, After the terror, german ed., Frankfurt a.M.2003, 187. 47 Hierto Alexander Archangelskij, Das Problem des Lebensnotstandes am Beispiel des Abschusses eines von Terroristen entführten Flugzeuges (fn. 3), 31 f. 48 So the German Federal Constitutional Court (fn. 15), 43. 49 For detailed proof of ‘classic’ utilitarism see John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, German translation by Hermann Vetter, 10th ed., Frankfurt a.M. 1998, 40 fn. 9, Jean-Claude Wolf, John Stuart Mills “Utilitarismus”, Ein kritischer Kommentar, Freiburg a.o. 1992, 45 f. 50 Archangelskij (fn. 3), 39.
people. 52 Not to forget the risks in evaluation (who is terminal ill? who will live how long?), already mentioned by the German Federal Court relating to renegade situations. This means that even a calculated plus of humans lives cannot justify a right to weigh up lives against others. The utilitarian point of view is intimately connected with a certain paradox that allegedly should result from the prevailing opinion: the interdiction to dispatch human lives contains the logical consequence to minimize the number of victims. The order ‘you should not kill, because lives would get lost’ is transformed into ‘you should not kill, because lives could be saved’. 53 But it only seems as there is a contradiction. The argument only says: one legal interest is lost, the other one still can be protected, or: because something can be saved in this situation, it needs to be saved. 54 But this conclusion presumes that an appreciation of values already took place. The victims (passengers on board) would then be treated as if they were irredeemably lost, what – as already mentioned earlier – we do not exactly know and only can be hypothesized. 55 In a nutshell: the (vague) possibility to rescue more lives cannot justify using force of arms against a renegade plane. 3.) State is obligated to secure the people on the ground Is the States ’highest obligation to respect the passengers’ life, even more important than the obligation to secure the people on the ground? Historically viewed, it may be true, that positive obligations derived from basic rights, are a late achievement. 56 But it does not proof, that the liberal function of the right to life has to be prioritized. In order to resolve the conflict, we have to take two steps: first, we need to qualify the type of danger threatening the people in the target areas (just misfortune or even mischief?). Then we ask, if the obligation to secure is also protecting against this special kind of endangerment. 57 Concerning the first point, it is assumed that both groups, the passengers and the people on the ground, are victims of the same offender - the terrorists. But among each other they behave legally ‘neutral’: the passengers do not stand on the side of the terrorists, they are only used as human shields, hijackers keep them under control. Legally they do ‘nothing’, there is no judicial relevant behaviour. Thus the people on the ground – relating to the passengers - are facing a (legally) non human
Ibid, 40. Eric Hilgendorf (fn. 3), 119. 53 S. Anke Borsdorf / Christian Deyda, Luftsicherheitsgesetz für die Bundespolizei (fn. 3), 113, Peter Wilkesmann, Terroristische Angriffe auf die Sicherheit des Luftverkehrs (fn. 3), 1322. 54 Archangelskij (fn. 3), 56. 55 Ibid, 56. 56 Winfried Brugger, Darf der Staat ausnahmsweise foltern? in: Der Staat 1996, 67 f. (80), cp. as well the recent article by Christian Callies, Die grundrechtliche Schutzpflicht im mehrpoligen Verfassungsrechtsverhältnisses, in: JZ 2006, 321 f. 57 Archangelkij (fn. 3), 101.
danger, comparable to an accident or as if they were victims of a natural disaster.58 Protecting civilians who fall prey to forces of nature: does it belong to the States’ obligation to secure? Of course it is a general task for authorities taking measures to help in an emergency, 59 but it is one of lower priority. The supreme purpose of a State is to ensure freedom (State protects against encroachments of a third party), then a State has to guarantee liberal rights (State protects against itself) and finally it gives social security (State protects against general risks) – this is at least the historical development of States purposes.60 The preservation against natural forces, and as well the protection against ‘flying bombs’ in a renegade case, is counted among the latest (social) functions of a State.61 The historical argument follows a theoretical: civil solidarity (of the passengers) assumes that one day this solidarity will be rewarded – impossible, if the passengers sacrifice themselves. Realistically, no one would affirm a society in which he would innocently be victimized. 62 This view to the States purposes shows that we cannot justify the use of force against renegade planes by referring to the States obligation to secure. In this chapter we questioned if life should be weighed up against others by applying some ethic, legal and historic arguments. But we saw that deprivation of innocent lives in order to safeguard the right to life of others is not an appropriate measure for authorities.
VI). State of emergency 1.) Particularly Art. 15 ECHR However: deprivation of life may be lawful in very exceptional cases. As we know, an individuals life is most likely to be compromised when States engage in armed conflicts, the ‘ius in bello’ allows to a certain extent what is usually called ‘collateral damage’. But only, if an attack is not ‘excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated’ 63 . This intuition influenced all relevant Human Rights Conventions proclaiming that ‘in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation any High Contracting Party may take measures derogating from its obligations’ (Art. 15 para 1 ECHR). 64 The European
Ibid., 59. Thomas Würtenberger / Dirk Heckmann, Polizeirecht in Baden-Württemberg (fn. 3), 71 f., 112 f. 60 Cp. Winfried Brugger, Freiheit und Sicherheit, Baden-Baden 2005, 47 f., Johannes Dietlein, Die Lehre von den Grundrechtlichen Schutzpflichten, Berlin 1992, 21 f., Josef Isensee, in: Handbuch des Staatsrechts der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Heidelberg 2003, § 111 para. 32 f. 61 Archangelskij (fn. 3)., 106 f. 62 Ibid., 108. 63 See Art. 51 para 5 lit. b. of the ‘Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1)’; hereto Michael Bothe, in: Wolfgang Graf Vitzthum (ed.), Völkerrecht, 2nd ed., Berlin a.o. 2004, sec. 8 para 66. 64 See further Art. 4 ICCPR, Art. 5 Inter-American Convention to Prevent Punish Torture a.o., cp. Edward Lawson, Encyclopedia of Human Rights, New York o.a. 1989, entry “State of Emergency”, 1406 f.
Court early detailed the assumptions of the ‘public emergency’: it must be actual (1.), its effects must involve the whole nation (2.), the continued existence of the organised life of the community must be threatened (3.) and the crisis must be such extraordinary that normal measures are absolutely inopportune (4.). 65 Sure enough, the Court follows its ‘margin of appreciation’ doctrine here as well and is receptive to different national evaluation of an emergency. The United Kingdom made use of this derogation several times in its fight against IRA-terrorism 66 and lately in view of the 11 September threats67 . But of course Art. 15 ECHR is not a blanket form for every kind of use of force. Art. 15 para 2 ECHR limits the possibility to derogate the Convention rights in favour of the right to life. Even in public emergency life may only be deprived in cases ‘resulting from lawful acts of war’. Such ‘acts of war’ also include non-international armed conflicts and must be interpreted in the light of the Geneva Convention (and the Additional Protocol I). 68 As already mentioned above the Humanitarian Law allows a non-excessive use of force of arms, if it is proportional to the military advantage. 69 If we followed the british evaluation and confirmed a public emergency due to the new terrorist threats – which of course can be doubted 70 - the renegade plane would be a ‘military objective’ 71 and the use of force against it would be legal, provided that proportionality remained. 72
Greek case, in: Yearbook of the European Convention on Human Rights 12 (1969), 72, hereto. J. G. Merrills / A. H. Robertson, Human rights in Europe, A study of the European Convention on Human Rights, 4th ed., Manchester 2001, 206 (art. 15), Jens Meyer-Ladewig, Konvention zum Schutz der Menschenrechte und Grundfreiheiten, Handkommentar, Baden-Baden 2003, Art. 15 para 4. 66 See Lawless vs. Ireland, 01.07.1961, A/3, Ireland vs. United Kingdom, 18.01.1978, A/25, Brannigan and McBride vs. United Kingdom, 26.05.1993, A/258-B, hereto Wolfram Karl, Menschenrechte im Staatsnotstand, in: Johann J. Hagen / Peter Mader (ed.), Gewalt und Recht, Frankfurt a.M. a.o. 1997, 95 f. (104 f.). 67 The United Kingdom responded to September 11 by passing the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (“ATCSA”): ‘There exists a terrorist threat to the United Kingdom from persons suspected of involvement in international terrorism. In particular, there are foreign nationals present in the United Kingdom who are suspected of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of international terrorism, of being members of organizations or groups which are so concerned or of having links with members of such organizations or groups, and who are a threat to the national security of the United Kingdom. As a result, a public emergency, within the meaning of Article 15(1) of the Convention exists in the United Kingdom’; hereto Alexandra Chirinos, Harvard Human Rights Journal, vol. 18 (2005), 265 f. 68 Wolfram Karl, Menschenrechte im Staatsnotstand, in: Johann J. Hagen / Peter Mader (ed.), Gewalt und Recht (fn. 66), 115. 69 See fn. 63. 70 See for the different levels of threat perception in Britain, France and Germany Dirk Haubrich, September 11, Anti-Terror Laws and Civil Liberties: Britain, France and Germany Compared, in: Government and Opposition (2003) 38 (1), 3 f. 71 See Art. 52 para 2 Protocol 1 (fn. 63). 72 Different Winfried Brugger, Darf der Staat ausnahmsweise foltern? in: Der Staat 1996, 67 f.: the ECHR does not (and the German Constitution neither does) [the law in general?] regulate such exeptional cases (in his example the torture of a potential bomb planter in order to extract a confession, that may save thousands of lives).
2. ) Art. 15 ECHR in a renegade case In my view this qualification would be fulfilled, if the renegade plane was picked off in an open (not an urban) area (1.). Otherwise pieces of wreckage and fuselage could smash in playgrounds, swimming pools, on motorways, etc. The number of victims could even be higher then it would be without the firing. Not to forget, that the people in the mentioned areas would have a right to be protected as well as those in the target areas. Furthermore proportionality demands to take all reasonable steps preventing renegade cases beforehand (intensive personal and baggage controls on the ground, use of sky marshals during the flight, etc.) (2.). Keep in mind that a ‘military advantage’ must be present. We will have to have a look at the ‘numbers’: an armed attack would (perhaps?) only be legal, unless more terrorists than civilians 73 are affected – seriously occurring only in case of deadheads (3.). 74 Then again the ‘military advantage’ could be handled without looking at the losses. It is arguable, that the military advantage is based on the pre-emptive impact. Terrorists should be aware that their inhuman strategy will be foiled by authorities. But this political argument does not replace the ‘concrete and direct military advantage’ 75 that is needed to secure proportionality. Admittedly, if we adhered to the suggested (three) strict qualifications, we would rarely find a case which allows the use of force against renegade planes.
VII). Conclusion Under normal legal conditions (no state of emergency) there is no hold to weigh up life against life, a hijacked airplane must not be shot down. German and European Law substantiate this point of view legally. Particularly, the European Convention of Human Rights provides almost the exact same rights to life as the German Constitutional Law. The right to life can only be derogated in a state of emergency, but only in rare exceptional cases. We have to ask if the terrorist threat arising from a renegade situation leads to such a state of emergency. 76 Thereby it is important to see, that Art. 15 ECHR gives a margin of appreciation to every member of the Convention. Obviously the member states complete this margin of appreciation differently: while the british parliament early declared a public emergency within
Brugger then argues those exceptional situations need exceptional measures (and thats why torture may be legal), without reverting to the ‘public emergency’. 73 ‘The civilian population comprises all persons who are civilians’ (Art.50 para. 2 Protocol 1 (fn. 63)). 74 Michael Bothe, in: Wolfgang Graf Vitzthum (ed.), Völkerrecht (fn. 63), sec. 8 para. 66 gives the example that an attack to a few soldiers is forbidden, if they are situated within a crowd of civilians (see as well the UZwGBW (fn. 5)). 75 Protocol 1 (fn. 63). 76 Gerd Roellecke, Der Rechtsstaat im Kampf gegen den Terror, in: JZ 2006, 265 f. identifies a lack of applicable norms when fighting in the ‚war against terrorism’. Neither Martial Law nor Police Law would provide adequate rules.
the meaning of Art. 15 ECHR, Germany’s constitutional organs were uneven (the legislator on the one hand the Federal Court on the other). If we affirm to the british view, which limits do we have to consider? I proposed three very strict qualifications in order to tame the executive authority. Of course, the limits are different from culture to culture, they depend on the level of threat, that we personally feel and - on the other hand - how intimate we stick to constitutional standards. Renegade flights and the tragic choice: must the State sacrifice innocent people? Perhaps the question cannot be answered objectively, but depends on personal moral intuitions.