How can you control the population?

Questions and answers about racial profiling

What is racial profiling?

Racial profiling is used when the police inspect people because of their skin color, hair color or other external characteristics without a specific reason. It is also racial profiling if the appearance is one of several indications for the control. SourceDeutsches Institut für Menschenrechte (2013): "'Racial Profiling'-human rights illegal checks according to §22, paragraph 1 a Federal Police Act: Recommendations to the legislator, Courts and Police ", p. 26; Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate: judgment of April 21, 2016 (7 A 11108 / 14th OVG)

How many cases are known?

A representative study from 2017 shows: 14 percent of black people in Germany have experienced racial profiling in the previous five years. Source Agency of the European Union for Fundamental Rights (2017): "Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey", p. 70

Authorities record far fewer cases: from January 2018 to April 2019, for example, the federal police registered only 58 complaints about racial profiling. Experts explain the low numbers by the fact that there are hardly any independent complaint offices in Germany. So far, only Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia have set up such offices independent police complaints offices ", p. 17 there. Those affected must file complaints with the police. This often leads to contraindications. The court process is again expensive and not very promising. SourceBundesdrucksache 19/10065, p.7; IDA e.V. (2018): "Racial Profiling in Visor Racism in the Police, Consequences and Intervention Options", p. 5; Anti-Discrimination Office Cologne (2017): "People like DU tend to criminal (racist) discrimination in the police: causes, consequences and possibilities of intervention", pp. 18-25

What are the consequences of racial profiling for those affected?

A study from Switzerland shows: Those affected by racial profiling can develop a chronic fear of controls and lose confidence in the police. Many feel ashamed or exposed. In addition, those affected report that they avoid certain places or withdraw. One person said she lost her job because she was late for work due to a police interrogation. In Germany, too, people report similar experiences. QuelleAllianz gegen Racial Profiling (2019): "Racial Profiling-Experience, Effect, Resistance", pp. 88-109; Anti-Discrimination Office Cologne (2017): "People like DU tend to criminal (racist) discrimination in the police: causes, consequences and possibilities of intervention", pp. 14-15

What is the legal situation?

At the international level, the human rights treaties of the UN and the Council of Europe prohibit racial profiling. At the national level, racist police controls violate Article 3 of the Basic Law. The Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia made this clear in 2018. The Basic Law article states that "nobody because of their gender, their origin, their race. The term" race "is problematic. It implies that there are different" races "of people. Therefore, lawyers are calling for the term to be replaced in the Basic Law. Source : German Institute for Human Rights (2010): "A Basic Law without a 'race' proposal for an amendment to Article 3 Basic Law", its language, its homeland and origin, its belief, its religious or political views [...] [may]." At the same time, however, there are laws that favor racial profiling. Source General Declaration of Human Rights (1948); European Convention on Human Rights (1953); Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine Westphalia: judgment of 07.08.2018 (5 A 294/16); German Basic Law, (1949), Article 3, Paragraph 3; German Institute for Human Rights (2013): "'Racial Profiling'- checks against human rights in accordance with Section 22 Paragraph 1 a of the Federal Police Act: Recommendations to the legislature, courts and the police", p. 7; German Institute for Human Rights (2010): "A constitution without a 'race' proposal for an amendment to Article 3 of the Basic Law"

  • According to Section 22 of the Federal Police Act, the Federal Police should prevent unauthorized entry. To do this, she is allowed to check people on trains, at train stations and airports and inspect items such as luggage. In practice, officials often use external features such as skin or hair color to determine alleged unauthorized entry. SourceDeutsches Institut für Menschenrechte (2013): "'Racial Profiling'- checks on persons in violation of human rights according to Section 22 (1) a Federal Police Act: Recommendations the legislature, courts and police ", p. 27ff.
  • In addition, §23 of the Federal Police Act and various state police lawsA prominent example is the Police Task Act in Bavaria, that police officers people in "dangerous places" The police classify places where many criminal offenses occur as "dangerous places". ask for ID without there being any specific suspicion against you. Residents and passers-by are particularly often affected by racial profiling in these places.QuelleBundespolizeigesetz, §22, §23; Police Task Act Bavaria, Art. 13; Deutsches Polizeiblatt (3/2019): "Prohibition of racial discrimination - method of racial profiling is contrary to fundamental and human rights", p. 23

What do experts say?

Biplab Basu, Berlin campaign for victims of racist police violence

Racist police controls send two signals. The first is aimed at the white majority society. It says: We are there for you and protect you from crime. The second signal is aimed at people of color. It says: We must protect ourselves from you. You are different and dangerous. These signals have an effect beyond the actual police control. They confirm racist ideas about "us" and the "criminal others". This makes them one of the clearest manifestations of racist prejudice. In the long term, racial profiling divides society.

Ilka Simon, Cologne Anti-Discrimination Office

In NRW, the police included the topic of "ethnic profiling" in their training in 2018. That is an important step in the right direction. It would be good if other federal states follow suit. In addition, police authorities need a culture of error and anti-discrimination. That would mean that servants reflect on whom they control and for what reason. Those affected by racial profiling need places where they can experience empowerment. These can be advice centers, but also protected workshops where you can exchange ideas with other people who have experienced racism.

Dr. Hendrik Cremer, German Institute for Human Rights

Racial profiling not only harms those affected, but also the police, as it destroys the trust of parts of society. A change of course with the aim of a non-discriminatory practice of police work is therefore also in their interest. The heads of the police and interior ministries must set clear guidelines that result from basic and human rights.

Important sources:

Study on Racial Profiling in Germany, Anti-Discrimination Office Cologne, 2017 / Link
Study on Racial Profiling at the Federal Police, German Institute for Human Rights, 2013 / Link

From Christina Biel