26 May 2009

Ethnic Profiling in the European Union: Pervasive, Ineffective and Discriminatory

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A 2009 report into ethnic profiling prepared by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Since the 9/11 attacks in the United States, 32 percent of British Muslims report being subjected to discrimination at airports. Police carrying machine guns have conducted identity checks on 11-year-olds at German mosques. Moroccan immigrants have been called “moro de mierda” (“Arab shit”) by Spanish police. The personal data of 8.3 million people were searched in a massive German data mining exercise which targeted—among other characteristics—people who were Muslim, and which did not identify a single terrorist.

These are examples of ethnic profiling by police in Europe—a common, long- standing practice that has intensified in recent years. Evidence from countries across the European Union shows that police routinely use generalizations about ethnicity, reli- gion, race, or national origin in deciding whom to target for identity checks, stops, and searches. Contemporary concerns about terrorism underlie a rising interest in ethnic profiling in Europe, which many see as an effective way to identify terrorist suspects.

This research document is available to download below.