Basic Rights


Conscious of their responsibility before God and Men, Animated by the resolve to serve world peace as an equal partner in a united  Europe, the German people have adopted, by virtue of their constituent power,  this Basic Law.
The Germans in the Laender of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western  Pomerania, North-Rhine-Weststphalia, Rhineland-Paltinate, Saarland, Saxony,  Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia have achieved the unity and  freedom of Germany in free self-determination.  This Basic Law is thus valid  for the entire German People.  

Article 1 (Protection of human dignity).  
(1) The dignity of man inviolable. To respect and protect it is the duty of all state authority.   
(2) The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human  rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in the world.   
(3) The following basic rights bind the legislature, the executive and the  judiciary as directly enforceable law.   

Article 2 (Rights of liberty).  
(1) Everyone has the right to the free development of his personality insofar  as he does not violate the rights of others or offend against the  constitutional order or the moral code.  
(2) Everyone has the right to life and to inviolability of his person. The  freedom of the individual is inviolable. These rights may only be encroached  upon pursuant to a law.  

Article 3 (Equality before the law).  
(1) All persons are equal before the law.   
(2) Men and women have equal rights.   
(3) No one may be prejudiced or favored because of his sex, his parentage, his  race, his language, his homeland and origin, his faith or his religious or  political opinions.

Article 4 (Freedom of faith, of conscience and of creed).
(1) Freedom of faith and of conscience, and freedom of creed religious or ideological, are inviolable.  
(2) The undisturbed practice of religion is guaranteed.   
(3) No one may be compelled against his conscience to render war service as an  armed combatant. Details will be regulated by a Federal law.  

Article 5 (Freedom of expression).  
(1) Everyone has the right freely to express and to disseminate his opinion by  speech, writing and pictures and freely to inform himself from generally  accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by radio and  motion pictures are guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.   
(2) These rights are limited by the provisions of the general laws, the provisions of law for the protection of youth and by the right to  inviolability of personal honor.   
(3) Art and science, research and teaching are free. Freedom of teaching does  not absolve from loyalty to the constitution.  

Article 6 (Freedom of expression).
(1) Marriage and family enjoy the special protection of the state.
(2) Care and upbringing of children are the natural right of the parents and a duty primarily incumbent on them. The state watches over the performance of  this duty.   
(3) Separation of children from the family against the will of the persons  entitled to bring them up may take place only pursuant to a law, if those so  entitled fail in their duty or if the children are otherwise threatened  with neglect.
(4) Every mother is entitled to the protection and care of the community.  
(5) Illegitimate children shall be provided by legislation with the same  opportunities for their physical and spiritual development and their position  in society as are enjoyed by legitimate children.    
Article 7 (Education).
(1) The entire education system is under the supervision of the state.
(2) The persons entitled to bring up a child have the right to decide whether they shall receive religious instruction.
(3) Religious instruction forms part of the ordinary curriculum in state  and municipal schools, excepting secular schools. Without prejudice to the  state's right of supervision, religious instruction is given in accordance  with the tenets of the religious communities. No teacher may be obliged  against his will to give religious instruction.
(4) The right to establish private schools is guaranteed. Private schools  as a substitute for state or municipal schools, require the approval of the  state and are subject to the laws of the Laender. This approval must be  given if private schools are not inferior to the state or municipal schools  in their educational aims, their facilities and the professional training  of their teaching staff, and if a segregation of the pupils according to  the means of the parents is not promoted. This approval must be withheld if  the economic and legal position of the teaching staff is not sufficiently  ssured.
(5) A private elementary school shall be admitted only if the educational  authority finds that it serves a special pedagogic interest or if, on the  application of persons entitled to bring up children, it is to be  established as an interdenominational or denominational or ideological  school and a state or municipal elementary school of this type does not  exist in the community.
(6) Preparatory schools remain abolished.

Article 8 (Freedom of assembly).
(1) All Germans have the right to assemble peacefully and unarmed without prior notification or permission.
(2) With regard to open-air meetings this right may be restricted by or  pursuant to a law.  

Article 9 (Freedom of association).  
(1) All Germans have the right to form associations and  societies.  
(2) Associations, the objects or activities of which conflict  with the criminal laws or which are directed against the constitutional  order or the concept of international understanding, are prohibited.
(3) The right to form associations to safeguard and improve working and  economic conditions is guaranteed to everyone and to all trades and  professions. Agreements which restrict or seek to hinder this right are  null and void; measures directed to this end are illegal.  

Article 10 (Privacy of letters, posts, and telecommunications). (amended 24 June 1968)
(1)  Privacy of letters, posts, and telecommunications shall be inviolable.
(2)  Restrictions may only be ordered pursuant to a statute.  Where a  restriction serves to protect the free democratic basic order or the existence  or security of the Federation, the statute may stipulate that the person  affected shall not be informed of such restriction and that recourse to the  courts shall be replaced by a review of the case by bodies and auxiliary  bodies appointed by Parliament.  

Article 11 (Freedom of movement).  
(1) All Germans enjoy freedom of movement throughout the Federal territory.
(2) This right may be restricted only by or pursuant to a statute, and only in  cases in which an adequate basis of existence is lacking and special burdens  would arise to the community, or in which the restriction is necessary to  avert an imminent danger to the existence or the free democratic basic order  of the Federation or a Land, to combat the danger of epidemics, to deal with  natural disasters or particularly grave accidents, to protect young people  from neglect or to prevent crime.   

Article 12 (Right to choose an occupation, prohibition of forced). As amended March 19. 1956.  
(1) All Germans have the right freely to choose their trade or profession  their place of work and their place of training. The practice of trades and  professions may be regulated by law.
(2) No one may be compelled to perform a particular work except within the framework of a traditional compulsory public service which applies generally  and equally to all. Anyone who refuses on conscientious grounds to render war  service involving the use of arms may be required to render an alternative  service. The duration of this alternative service shall not exceed the  duration of military service.  Details shall be regulated by a law which shall  not prejudice freedom of conscience and shall provide also for the possibility  of an alternative service having no connection with any unit of the Armed  Forces.
(3) Women shall not be required by law to render service in any unit of the  Armed Forces. On no account shall they be employed in any service involving  the use of arms.
(4) Forced labor may be imposed only in the event that a person is deprived  of his freedom by the sentence of a court.  

Article 12 A (Liability to military and other service)(added 24 June 1968)
(1)  Men who have attained the age of 18 years may be required to serve in the Armed Forces, in the Federal Border Guard, or in a civil defense organization.
(2)  A person who refuses, on grounds of conscience, to render war service  involving the sue of arms may be required to render a substitute service.  The  duration of such substitute service shall not exceed the duration of military  service.  Details shall be regulated by a statute which shall not interfere  with freedom to take a decision based on conscience and shall also provide for  the possibility of a substitute service not connected with units of the Armed  Forces or of the Federal Border Guard.
(3) Persons liable to military service who are not required to render service  pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) of this Article may, during a state of  defense , be assigned by or pursuant to a statute to an  employment involving civilian services for defense purposes, including the  protection of the civilian population; it shall, however, not be permissible  to assign persons to an employment subject to public law except for the  purpose of discharging police functions or such other functions of public  administration as can only be discharged by persons employed under public law.   Persons may be assigned to an employment -as referred to in the first sentence  of this paragraph- with the Armed forces, including the supplying and  servicing of the latter, or with public administrative authorities; assignments  to employment connected with supplying and servicing the civilian population  shall not be permissible except in order to meet their vital requirements or  to guarantee their safety
(4) Where, during a state of defense, civilian service requirements in the civilian health system or in the stationary military hospital organization  cannot be met on a voluntary basis, women between eighteen and fity-five years  of age may be assigned to such services by or pursuant to a statute.  They may  on no account render service involving the use of arms.
(5) Prior to the existence of a state of defense, assignments, under paragraph  3 of this Article may only be made where the requirements of paragraph 1 of  Article 80a are satisfied.  It shall be admissible to require persons by or  pursuant to a statute to attend training courses in order to prepare them for  the performance of such services in accordance with paragraph 3 of this  Article as require special knowledge or skills.  To this extent, the first  sentence of this paragraph shall not apply.
(6) Where, during a state of defense, staffing requirements for the purposes  referred to in the second sentence of paragraph 3 of this Article cannot be  met on a voluntary basis, the right of a German to quit the pursuit of his  occupation or quit his place of work may be restricted by or pursuant to a  statute in order to meet these requirements.  The first sentence of paragraph  5 of this Article shall apply mutatis mutandis prior to the existence of a  state of defense.  

Article 13 (Inviolability of the home).   
(1) The home is inviolable.
(2) Searches may be ordered only by a judge or, in the event of danger in  delay, by other organs as provided by law and may be carried out only in  the form prescribed by law.
(3) Otherwise, this inviolability may be encroached upon or restricted only  to avert a common danger or a mortal danger to individuals, or, pursuant to  a law, to prevent imminent danger to public security and order, especially  to alleviate the housing shortage, to combat the danger of epidemics or to  protect endangered juveniles.  

Article 14 (Property, right of inheritance, taking of property)
(1) Property and the rights of inheritance are guaranteed. Their content and limits are determined by the laws.
(2) Property imposes duties. Its use should also serve the public weal.
(3) Expropriation is permitted only in the public weal. It may take place only by or pursuant to law which provides for kind and extent of the  compensation. The compensation shall be determined upon just consideration  of the public interest and of the interests of the persons affected. In  case of dispute regarding the amount of compensation, recourse may be had  to the ordinary courts.  

Article 15 (Socialization).
Land, natural resources and means of production may for the purpose of socialization be transferred into public ownership or other  forms of publicly controlled economy by a law which provides for kind and  extent of the compensation. With respect to such compensation Article 14,  para. 3, sentences 3 and 4, apply mutatis mutandis.  

Article 16 (Deprivation of citizenship, extradition, right of asylum). 
(1) No one may be deprived of his German citizenship. Loss of  citizenship may arise only pursuant to a law, and against the will of the  person affected it may arise only if such person does not thereby become  stateless.
(2) No German may be extradited to a foreign country. Persons persecuted  for political reasons enjoy the right of asylum  

Article 17 (Right of petition).
Everyone has the right individually or jointly with others to address written requests or complaints to the competent authorities and to the representative  assemblies.

Article 17 A Restriction of individual basic rights through legislation enacted for defense purposes and concerning substitute service.
As amended March 19 1956.
(1) Laws concerning military services and alternative service may by provisions applying to members of the Armed Forces and of alternative services during their period of military or alternative service, restrict the basic  right freely to express and to disseminate opinions by speech, writing, and  pictures (Article 5, paragraph (1) first half-sentence), the basic right of  assembly (Article 9), and the right of petition Article 17) insofar as it  permits to address requests or complaints jointly with others.
(2) Laws for defense purposes, including the protection of the civilian  population may provide for the restriction of the basic rights of freedom  of movement (Article 11) and inviolability of the home (Article 13).  

Article 18 Forfeiture of basic rights.   
Whoever abuses freedom of opinion, in particular freedom of the  press (Article 5, paragraph 1) freedom of teaching (Article 5, paragraph  3), freedom of assembly (Article 8), freedom of association (Article 9),  the secrecy of mail posts and telecommunications (Article 10),property  (Article 14), or the right of asylum (Article 16, paragraph 2) in order to  attack the free democratic basic order, forfeits these basic rights. The  forfeiture and its extent are pronounced by the Federal Constitutional  Court.  
Article 19 Restriction of Basic Rights.
(1) Insofar as under this Basic Law a basic right may be restricted by or pursuant to a law, the law must apply generally and not solely to an  individual case. Furthermore the law must name the basic right, indicating the  Article.
(2) In no case may a basic right be infringed upon in its essential  content.  
(3) The basic rights apply also to corporations established under German  Public law to the extent that the nature of such rights permits.
(4) Should any person's right be violated by public authority, recourse to  the court shall be open to him. If no other court has jurisdiction,  recourse shall be to the ordinary courts.