Freedom of travel

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The freedom to travel is considered part of the right to freedom of movement , which every citizen of a country gives the right to leave one's own country at will and return to be allowed again.

In more general terms, people speak of freedom of movement today when it comes to the internationally recognized human rights to move freely or to settle.

Legal history

Cesare Beccaria spoke against restricting the freedom of travel in his book "Dei delitti e delle pene" (German: "Of crime and punishment"), published in 1764 and translated into many languages, and had urgently advised against making the escape from the republic a criminal offense:

“The prohibition itself not to go out of the country only makes the natives more lustful to leave their homeland and serves as a warning to foreigners not to settle in it. What should one think of a government that has no other means besides fear and punishment to keep people in the bosom of their fatherland, to which they have already been tied up from early childhood, by nature, as it were by a peculiar tendency are?"

Such a norm, as Beccaria knew as early as 1764, can only punish the (unsuccessful) attempt to make use of the freedom to travel, because:

“If the escaped person has taken everything away with him, he can no longer be punished. You cannot punish the escape until it is committed and it is out of our hands ... "

International conventions

Freedom of travel is anchored as an individual right in international agreements. It is primarily the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the UN with Articles 12 to 15th

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Article 12, Freedom of Travel, is an agreement under international law . Article 12 regulates the right to leave and return.

Freedom to travel in the GDR

Authoritarian and totalitarian states in particular often restrict the freedom of their citizens to travel. A well-known example was the GDR , which severely restricted this right until November 9, 1989 . The GDR signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1974 , which provides for freedom of travel in Article 12; however, it was neglected to implement this contract in national law. Section 213 of the Criminal Code (GDR) continued to criminalize the attempt to leave the country, which was not expressly authorized, as an “ illegal border crossing ”. Furthermore, the so-called shooting order threatened the lives of potential refugees. In 1977 and 1984 the GDR was heard by the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations on the conditions on the inner-German border .

An application for permanent departure from the GDR could be submitted, but this could also be rejected or was only processed after a long waiting period, during which the applicant had to reckon with harassment. After 1961, trips for citizens of the GDR under 65 to non-socialist countries were only possible on application, only on certain occasions and mostly only if a return to the GDR was likely (e.g. children or spouses left behind, no "Western relatives "). From 1964 onwards, all pensioners were allowed to visit relatives in the West once a year; later, further travel facilities were made easier.

There were also so-called travel cadres from the state and party apparatus, athletes who were able to drive to international competitions, scientists who were allowed to travel to specialist congresses and selected (skilled) workers who worked in the West (e.g. construction workers and engineers) , or drive through it (seafarers, truck drivers, aircraft crews).

But entry into the socialist countries was often problematic. For example, from 1972 to 1980 it was only possible to enter Poland without a special permit. In the summer of 1980 workers' demonstrations began in Poland; the Solidarność union was established. The GDR regime under Erich Honecker feared that the demonstrations could spill over to the GDR.

Spontaneous trips abroad were only possible to the GDR neighboring country Czechoslovakia , in all other Eastern Bloc countries a so-called travel facility for visa-free travel had to be applied for from the People's Police . This freedom of travel was used by many people wishing to leave the country in the summer of 1989; they drove to the embassy of the Federal Republic in Prague or via Czechoslovakia to Hungary.

"Freedom to travel" was voted word of the year in 1989.

Freedom of travel in Hungary in the time of real socialism

The travel restrictions for citizens in the People's Republic of Hungary were generally less restrictive than in other Eastern Bloc countries and were increasingly relaxed between 1961 and 1989. From 1972, travel to the "friendly" socialist countries Bulgaria, ČSSR, Poland, GDR and Romania was possible with the "red passport" without restrictions. This list was expanded to include Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union in 1977.

There was a separate blue passport for trips to western countries. Travel to the West was subject to authorization, the permits were granted to citizens who had not received negative political feedback, but were generally granted. Appropriate travel permits could be applied for independently of each other every three years for tourist purposes and every two years for visiting purposes (upon presentation of an invitation by friends or relatives), but no more than once a year. By cleverly combining both types of application, up to five trips to the West were possible within a period of six years.

On January 1, 1988, the globally valid passport was introduced, which granted citizens unrestricted freedom of travel to all countries in the world. Until the political turnaround in 1989/90, travel abroad was only restricted by the limited possibility of currency exchange.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ All quotations from Karl Ferdinand Hommel: The Lord Marquis of Beccaria's immortal work of crime and punishment (Leipzig 1778). Edition Berlin 1966, Akademie Verlag, page 141/142 [1]
  2. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, German
  3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (PDF; 79 kB)
  4. [2] Útiokmányok, utazási lehetõségek és határforgalom a 20th századi Magyarországon

Web links

Wiktionary: Freedom to travel  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations