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A friend said to me the other day that she was worried that she had supported the the "Last Generation" ("Letzte Generation") organization financially. The Last Generation often blocks the streets of Berlin and other large cities in Germany to encourage politicians to focus more on climate change.

In the past, it has been possible to support the organization through donations to help them afford the legal costs they face after their actions. The background to this is that in Germany the Last Generation organization as a criminal organization because of its activities. As a criminal organization because of its activities. Now my friend is of the opinion that if that were to happen, she would have committed a retroactive offence. Because supporting a criminal organization in Germany is a punishable offence.

According to my legal understanding, I would say that an organization that has been retroactively classified as a criminal organisation does not does not mean that it has committed a criminal offence. So that it has nothing to fear here. Am I right?

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    In most countries, including Germany, to be treated as a crime something must have been a crime at the moment when it happened.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 1, 2023 at 19:39
  • @gnasher729 I hate to break it to you, but art. 103 Ⅱ GG (also repeated in § 1 StGB) does not concern the interpretation. The Federal AG’s interpretation may change retroactively without violating the nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege principle. Aug 2, 2023 at 17:47

1 Answer 1

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Short Answer:

Paying legal fees for a criminal organisation is not (by my reading of the law) an offence. But if it is, retrospective legislation is prohibited in all but a few situations.

Long Answer:

There are two issues here:

  1. Support for an organised crime group

This is an offence contrary to section 45 Serious Crime Act 2015:

(1) A person who participates in the criminal activities of an organised crime group commits an offence.

(2) For this purpose, a person participates in the criminal activities of an organised crime group if the person takes part in any activities that the person knows or reasonably suspects—

  • (a) are criminal activities of an organised crime group, or

  • (b) will help an organised crime group to carry on criminal activities

HOWEVER it seems unlikely that "donations to help them afford the legal costs they face after their actions" would meet the emboldened requirements at subsection 2(b) as it does not appear to be supporting "criminal activities." That said, each case will be considered on its own merits.

  1. Retrospective legislation

Generally, this is prohibited under the European Convention on Human Rights, enacted under Article 7 Human Rights Act 1988:

No punishment without law

1 No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed.

2 This Article shall not prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles of law recognised by civilised nations.

However, paragraph 2 does allow for retrospective legislation if the need arises. For example the War Crimes Act 1991 retrospectively criminalises murder etc committed in Germany or its occupied territories during the second world war.


Although tagged , I have answered according to the LawSE Help Centre: "we expect and encourage answers dealing with other jurisdictions ... please tag your answer using the tag markdown: [tag: some-tag]"

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  • I assume Article 7 applies in Germany, but as I don't know enough to offer it as an answer I'll leave it for those with relevant knowledge to do so (if they want to)
    – user35069
    Aug 1, 2023 at 21:24
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    Thank you Rick! Great and helpful answer! Aug 1, 2023 at 21:36

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