The Basic Law or "Grundgesetz" is the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany. It includes the most fundamental rights that determine the way society is organised in Germany. No other law may contradict the Basic Law. For instance, the Asylum Act or the Criminal Law may not contain any ordinances which conflict with the Basic Law. The Basic Law is the most prominent body of law in Germany, hence stands above all others.
The Basic Law consists of 146 sections, i.e. "articles". The first 19 articles of the Basic Law contain the so-called "fundamental rights", i.e. the most significant human rights vis-à-vis the state, designed to protect the individual from despotism, injustice and violence from the state. Some of these fundamental rights, also referred to as "human rights", apply to everyone in Germany, regardless of residence status. The Basic Law also includes a set of other rights, referred to as "civil rights", which only applies to people who have German citizenship.
Established in West Germany in 1949, The Basic Law has been applying to all of Germany since the reunification of 1990. Many of the principles included are consequences of violations of human rights during the National Socialist dictatorship between 1933 and 1945. Fundamental rights have been given a central position in the Basic Law to ensure the atrocities of Nazi times cannot happen again.
The Federal Constitutional Court is in charge of monitoring and assuring compliance with the Basic Law. The government cannot simply amend the Basic Law.