German court prohibits police from racial profiling
Human rights, Germany
MOSCOW, October 30 - RAPSI. The Supreme Administrative Court of Rheinland Pfalz has prohibited police officers from checking the documents of passers-by based on their skin color, the Focus magazine reported on Tuesday.
The ruling was passed as part of a lawsuit filed by a German student in Kassel. In 2010, police officers attempted to check his documents to find out whether he was residing legally in Germany.
Eventually, a squabble ensued between the officers and the student, who later appeared before the court on charges of offending a police officer. During the trial, one of the officers said he was stopped for various reasons, including the color of his skin, as the officers assumed that he was an immigrant.
The student said the actions violated his rights and submitted a corresponding lawsuit to the court. The first instance court dismissed the case, ruling that the police can check the documents of passers-by who seem suspicious, including because of their looks, as part of their struggle with illegal immigration.
The student appealed the ruling in a higher court, which validated his claims. The officers apologized to the student during the consideration of the appeal in the Supreme Administrative Court of Rheinland Pfalz.
The magazine did not specify how the trial regarding the student offending the officers ended.
German court says ID checks based on skin colour illegal
A German court has ruled that police spot checks based on a person's skin colour are illegal after a complaint by a German student of African descent, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
The decision by an administrative court in western Rhineland-Palatinate on Monday followed an appeal by the 26-year-old man who had been stopped by two police officers on a train in December 2010.
A previous court ruling had rejected his complaint.
But the court this week "confirmed that the check by the two officers based on skin colour was illegal because it breaches the ban on discrimination", court spokesman Hartmut Mueller-Rentschler told AFP.
He said representatives for the police had apologised and the case was declared closed.
The German Institute for Human Rights, which welcomed the outcome, said the police had been searching for people living unlawfully in Germany when they carried out the spot check.
"The government now has the duty to ensure that this practice by the federal police is no longer applied," Petra Follmar-Otto of the Institute said in a written statement.
Amnesty International called the ruling "an important sign against discrimination in ID checks", adding it had been dismayed by the previous court decision to uphold "racial profiling".
Landmark court ruling forbids racial profiling by German police
A black student won a landmark case in Germany Tuesday against police who had demanded he show them his identity documents on a train because he was not white.
Human rights groups applauded the appeal ruling by an administrative tribunal in the city of Koblenz, saying it would prevent police profiling of non-whites.
Police had charged the 26-year-old man, who was not named in public, with criminal insult. He had argued with two police officers who asked to see his ID on a train ride from Kassel to Frankfurt.
One federal policeman had testified that that he was on the lookout for illegal immigrants and he used skin colour to select which people to conduct spot checks on.
"This ID check was contrary to law because it was mainly prompted by skin colour," a court spokesman said.
Federal police apologized in the courtroom to the 26-year-old student, who had lost his lower-level case to have the police actions declared illegal and void but was vindicated on appeal.
In a written statement through his lawyer, Sven Adam, the student said, "This has been a long battle to make federal police obey the ban on discrimination."
Amnesty International called the ruling "a major signal" to the police. The German Human Rights Institute said police must now act to alter police practices. But a police union attacked the ruling "for not making policing any easier."
"Once again, the courts are making aesthetic improvements to the law and ignoring the practical side," said Rainer Wendt, chief of the DPolG police union.
German court raps police over racial profiling
A German appeals court has ruled against police in a case of racial profiling, saying officers broke anti-discrimination law. Human rights groups have applauded the verdict, saying police must now change their practices.
A German court delivered a landmark ruling against racial profiling on Tuesday by saying the rights of a black German student, who refused to show identification to police on a train, had violated the anti-discrimination prohibition in Germany's constitution.
The decision, which came from an upper administrative court in the western city of Koblenz, means police cannot screen passengers on skin color alone.
The 26-year-old student, whose name was withheld from the public, was asked by two federal police officers to show his identification papers during a December 2010 train ride from Kassel to Frankfurt.
One officer later testified that he had picked out the young man while looking for illegal immigrants among passengers because the student was not white.
The man refused and an argument ensued. The policemen took him to a police station where he was charged with criminal insult.
Skin color profiling slammed
On Tuesday, a Koblenz court spokesman said: "This ID check was contrary to law because it was mainly prompted by skin color."
The federal police, who are responsible for patrolling Germany's major railway stations, airports and other cross-border traffic, apologized to the man in the courtroom. He had previously lost a lower-level case in Koblenz to have the police action ruled illegal. Tuesday's appeal ruling reversed that.
"This has been a long battle to make federal police obey the ban on discrimination," said the man in a statement through his lawyer, Sven Adam.
Rights groups applaud decision
The human rights group Amnesty International described Tuesday's court ruling as a "major signal" to police. The German Human Rights Institute said law enforcers must now alter their methods.
The head of Germany's Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency Christine Lüders said the verdict showed that the German constitution "prohibits racial discrimination by the state."
Irene Alt, Integration Minister for Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate state, welcomed the decision, saying it showed that "all people in our diverse society are bound to equal treatment and fairness."
One police union disapproved of the ruling "for not making policing any easier."
"Once again, the courts are making aesthetic improvements to the law and ignoring the practical side," said Rainer Wendt, chief of the DPoIG police union.
dr/ipj (dpa, AFP, dapd)
Police: sorry for racial profiling on ID checks
Published: 30 Oct 12 11:19 CET
The German police have apologised for targeting a black German for spot ID checks on the basis of his skin colour – after a judge said it was illegal to do so, contradicting an earlier court ruling.
The now 26-year-old student told The Local in March he had been asked for his identification around 15 times in three years when travelling on trains between Kassel and Frankfurt. “The only thing I probably did was to look illegal,” he said.
In December 2010 he got into an argument with two federal police officers who demanded his ID but could not tell him why – so he refused to show them.
The federal police admitted they generally selected people for spot ID checks on the basis of their appearance – including skin colour, and this led to a court case at the end of February.
To the outrage of many, the Koblenz administrative court said such racial profiling was justified.
The student, who does not want to be identified, vowed to fight it, and on Monday afternoon the Koblenz administrative appeals tribunal nullified the initial ruling.
“The two officers were questioned by the tribunal, which then said making decisions on the basis of skin colour was illegal,” the tribunal’s spokesman Hartmut Müller-Rentschler told The Local.
“A representative of the federal police apologised to the plaintiff, who said that this was enough to satisfy him. As a result the case was deemed closed and the ruling of the lower court was declared to have no effect; it was nullified.”
Though this is not as legally strong as a formal verdict that racial profiling was illegal, Müller-Rentschler said it was likely to be taken as a signal, and that the federal police were likely to examine and change their practices.
“This result is a milestone for the legal classification of racial profiling as against the law. This case sends a significant signal for the practice of the federal police,” the student’s lawyer Sven Adam said afterwards in a statement.
“I am happy that the decision of the Koblenz administrative court’s decision has been declared null and void,” said the student. “We had to fight for a long time so that the federal police had to adhere to the ban on discrimination.”
Tahir Della, from the Initiative of Black People in Germany (ISD) welcomed the ruling. “We have been fighting for years for public recognition of this practice. Police checks of this kind are no one-off.
“They are the everyday experience of many black people and people of colour in Germany. They are put under suspicion and criminalised by this police practice. We hope that this verdict will serve as a basic political signal.”