Shooting Down Hijacked Airplanes? Sorry, We’re Humanists. A Comment on the German Constitutional Court Decision of 2.15.2006, Regarding the Luftsicherheitsgesetz (2005 Air Security Act)


The article analyzes a very remarkable decision of the Constitutional Court of Germany that struck down a law (2005 Air Security Law) that expressly authorized the federal government to shoot down hijacked airplanes, in case they were likely to be crashed against a target on the ground. The Court ruled that deliberately killing innocent people on board is incompatible with the right to human dignity, as established in the Basic Law. The article focuses on some of the main issues addressed by the Court (among others, the absolutization of human dignity, which makes unconstitutional for the legislature and for the executive to weigh between the lives of the passengers on board an the lives of the victims of the crash), and tries to situate it in the context of the German and European case law on antiterrorism and human rights.


Constitutional Law

Date of this Version

February 2007