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Law on the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces (law enacted pursuant to Article 45b of the Basic Law
Section 1 – Constitutional Status; Tasks
(1) In the exercise of parliamentary control, the Commissioner shall perform his duties as an auxiliary organ of the Bundestag.

(2) The Commissioner shall investigate specific matters upon instructions from the Bundestag or the Defence Committee. Instructions can only be issued when the Defence Committee does not make the matter a subject of its own deliberations. The Commissioner may request that the Defence Committee issue instructions to investigate specific matters.

(3) The Commissioner shall, on his own initiative and using his discretion, take action when, in the exercise of his right pursuant to paragraph (4) of Section 3, through information received from Members of the Bundestag, through petitions pursuant to Section 7 or in any other way, circumstances come to his attention which suggest a violation of the basic rights of service personnel or of the principles of Innere Führung. The Commissioner shall not act in accordance with sentence 1, when the Defence Committee has make the matter the subject of its own deliberations.

Section 2 – Reporting Duties
(1) The Commissioner shall submit to the Bundestag a written overall report for the calendar year (Annual Report).

(2) He may, at any time, submit individual reports to the Bundestag or the Defence Committee.

(3) When the Commissioner acts upon instructions, he shall, upon request, submit an individual report on the results of his investigation.

Section 3 – Official Powers
In performing the tasks assigned to him, the Commissioner shall have the following powers:

1. He may demand information and access to records from the Minister of Defence and all the Minister’s subordinate agencies and personnel. These rights can only be denied to him in the case of compelling reasons of secrecy. Such denial shall be determined by the Minister of Defence himself or his permanent official deputy; he shall state the reasons for it before the Defence Committee. On the basis of instructions pursuant to paragraph (2) of Section 1 and in the case of a petition based on a complaint by the petitioner, the Commissioner shall have the right to hear the petitioner as well as witnesses and experts. These persons shall be reimbursed pursuant to the Law on the Reimbursement of Expenses and the Remuneration of Witnesses and Experts of 1 October 1969 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 1756), last amended by Article 11 of the law of 26 November 1979 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 1953).

2. He may give the agencies concerned the opportunity to settle a matter.

3. He may refer a matter to the authority competent for the institution of criminal or disciplinary proceedings.

4. He may, at any time, visit any units, headquarters, agencies and authorities of the Federal Armed Forces and their institutions even without prior announcement. This right shall exclusively be vested in the person of the Commissioner. Sentences 2 and 3 of paragraph (1) shall apply mutatis mutandis.

5. He may request both summary reports from the Minister of Defence on the exercise of disciplinary power in the armed forces and statistical reports from the competent federal and Land authorities on the administration of criminal justice whenever the armed forces or their service personnel are affected.

6. In the case of criminal or disciplinary proceedings he may attend the court proceedings even when the public is excluded. He shall be given access to records to the same extent as the public prosecutor or the representative of the initiating authority. The right pursuant to sentence 1 shall also apply in matters of request and complaint proceedings under the Military Disciplinary Code and the Military Complaints Regulations before courts having jurisdiction over military disciplinary offences and in proceedings before administrative courts relating to his area of responsibility; in such proceedings he shall have the same right of access to records as a party to the proceedings.

Section 4 – Administrative Assistance
Courts and administrative authorities of the Federation, the Länder and the municipalities shall be obliged to render the Commissioner administrative assistance in the conduct of necessary investigations.

Section 5 - General Guidelines; Exemption from Instructions
(1) The Bundestag and the Defence Committee may issue general guidelines for the work of the Commissioner.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (2) of Section 1, the Commissioner shall not be subject to instructions.

Section 6 – Obligation of Presence
The Bundestag and the Defence Committee may at any time demand the presence of the Commissioner.

Section 7 – Service Personnel’s Right of Petition
Every member of the armed forces shall have the right to contact the Commissioner directly without going through official channels. He or she shall not be disciplined or discriminated against because of his or her petition to the Commissioner.

Section 8 – Anonymous Petitions
Anonymous petitions shall not be dealt with.

Section 9 – Confidentiality of Petitions
Where the Commissioner takes action in response to a petition, it shall be left to his discretion to disclose the fact of a petition and the name of the petitioner. He shall refrain from the disclosure if the petitioner so wishes and compliance with this wish is not barred by legal duties.

Section 10 – Obligation of Secrecy
(1) The Commissioner is obliged to maintain secrecy regarding matters that have come to his official knowledge even after his term of office has come to an end. This does not apply to official communications or to matters which are known to the general public or which do not require secrecy (in view of the level of importance accorded to them).

(2) The Commissioner shall not, even if he is not in office any more, give any evidence on such matters before a court or out of court or make statements without permission. This permission shall be given by the President of the Bundestag in agreement with the Defence Committee.

(3) Permission to give evidence as a witness shall not be denied unless it would be to the detriment of the public good of the Federation or of one of the German Länder, or it would severely jeopardise or considerably impede the performance of public duties.

(4) This shall not affect the statutory obligation to report criminal offences and to defend the preservation of the free democratic basic order.

Section 11 (repealed)
Section 12 - Obligation of Federal and Land Authorities to inform the Commissioner
The judicial and administrative authorities of the Federation and the Länder shall be obliged to inform the Commissioner about the institution of proceedings, of the preferment of a public charge, of the order for investigations in disciplinary proceedings and of the outcome of the proceedings, when the matter has been referred to one of these authorities by the Commissioner.

Section 13 - Election of the Commissioner
The Bundestag shall elect the Commissioner by secret ballot with a majority of its Members. Proposals for election may be made by the Defence Committee, the parliamentary groups and by as many Members of the Bundestag as are required for the formation of a parliamentary group pursuant to the Rules of Procedure. No debate shall take place.

Section 14 - Eligibility; Term of Office; Ban on Practice of another Profession; Exemption from Military Service
(1) Every German who is entitled to be elected to the Bundestag and has attained the age of 35 shall be eligible for the office of Commissioner.

(2) The term of office of the Commissioner shall be five years. Re-election shall be admissible.

(3) The Commissioner may not hold any other salaried office, or engage in any trade or practise a profession, or belong to the management or the supervisory board of an enterprise carried on for profit, or be a member of a government or a legislative body of the Federation or a Land.

(4) On assuming office, the Commissioner shall take the oath of office as laid down in Article 56 of the Basic Law.

(5) For the duration of his term of office, the Commissioner shall be exempt from military service.

Section 15 – Legal Status of the Commissioner; Beginning and End of Term of Office
(1) Pursuant to the provisions of this Law, the office of the Commissioner is one of the federal public service. The President of the Bundestag shall appoint the person elected.

(2) The Commissioner’s term of office shall begin when his letter of appointment is handed over or, should the oath have been taken at an earlier date (paragraph (4) of Section 14), at the time when the oath is taken.

(3) The Commissioner’s term of office shall end, apart from the termination of his tenure pursuant to paragraph (2) of Section 14 or through death,

1. upon his dismissal,

2. upon his resignation.

(4) Upon the request of the Defence Committee, the Bundestag may instruct its President to dismiss the Commissioner. This decision shall require the approval of the majority of the Members of the Bundestag.

(5) The Commissioner may request his dismissal at any time. The President of the Bundestag shall announce the dismissal.

Section 16 – Seat of the Commissioner; Chief Administrator; Staff; Budget.
(1) The seat of the Commissioner shall be attached to the Bundestag.

(2) The Commissioner shall be supported by a Chief Administrator. Additional personnel shall assist the Commissioner in the execution of his duties. The civil servants attached to the Commissioner shall be civil servants of the Bundestag pursuant to Section 176 of the Law on Federal Civil Servants of 3 January 1977 (Federal Law Gazette I, pp. 1, 795, 842), last amended by the Federal Law of 26 June 1981 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 553). The Commissioner shall be the superior of the personnel assigned to him.

(3) The necessary personnel and equipment made available to the Commissioner for performing his functions shall be shown in a separate chapter of the Bundestag budget.

Section 17 – Representation of the Commissioner
(1) If the Commissioner is prevented from performing his functions, and from the end of his term of office to the beginning of the term of office of his successor, the Chief Administrator shall exercise the rights of the Commissioner except for the right pursuant to paragraph (4) of Section 3. Paragraph (2) of Section 5 shall apply mutatis mutandis.

(2) If the Commissioner is prevented from exercising his office for more than three months, or when more than three months have elapsed after the end of the Commissioner’s term of office without the term of office of a successor having commenced, the Defence Committee may authorise the Chief Administrator to exercise the right pursuant to paragraph (4) of Section 3.

Section 18 – Official Emoluments; Other Payments
(1) From the beginning of the calendar month in which he takes office to the end of the calendar month in which his term of office ends, the Commissioner shall be paid official emoluments. Letters a and b of paragraph (1) of Section 11 of the Federal Ministers Act of 27 July 1971 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 1166), last amended by the Law on the Reduction of the Emoluments of Members of the Federal Government and of Parliamentary State Secretaries of 22 December 1982 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 2007), shall apply mutatis mutandis with the proviso that the Commissioner’s salary and local allowance shall be 75 per cent of the salary and local allowance of a Federal Minister. The emoluments shall be paid monthly in advance.

(2) In all other respects, paragraphs (2) and (4) of Section 11 and Sections 13 to 20 of the Federal Ministers Act shall apply mutatis mutandis with the proviso that, instead of a two-year term of office (paragraph (1) of Section 15 of the Federal Ministers Act), a five-year term shall apply. Sentence 1 shall apply mutatis mutandis to a career soldier or temporary-career volunteer who has been appointed Commissioner with the proviso that, in the case of temporary-career volunteers where paragraph (2) of Section 18 of the Federal Ministers Act applies, the date of retirement shall be replaced by the termination of service.

(3) The provisions of the Federal Travel Expenses Law of 13 November 1973 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 1621) last amended by the Ordinance of 31 May 1979 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 618) regarding the highest travel expense category, and the provisions of the Federal Removal Expenses Law of 13 November 1973 (Federal Law Gazette 1, p. 1628), last amended by Article VII of the Law of 20 December 1974 (Federal Law Gazette I, p. 3716) regarding removals necessary as a result of appointment or termination of office, shall apply mutatis mutandis.

Section 19 (repealed)

Section 20 Entry into Force

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