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Protesters at the No to Racism demonstration in Berlin on 6 June 2020. Racial profiling is a major complaint of Black people in Europe/Photo: Femi Awoniyi

European Commission calls for strong action against racial profiling in member countries

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has warned against racial profiling, as well as “systemic racism and inequalities” in Europe.

“Racial profiling constitutes a specific form of racial discrimination and must be expressly prohibited by law,” ECRI, a human rights monitoring body, said in a statement published on 6 July. “It generates a feeling of humiliation and injustice among those groups that are subjected to it, results in their stigmatisation, negative stereotyping and alienation, and hinders good community relations.”

ECRI therefore called on European governments to send strong messages and take determined action against racial profiling in policing. It reiterated that trust in the police by everyone in the society enhances safety for all.

According to the European Court of Human Rights, the perception by police officers of persons belonging to a particular community as “criminals” and the ensuing practice of racial profiling can result in “institutionalised racism”.

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ECRI urges Council of Europe member states to take steps in this area, from developing recruitment procedures which ensure that the composition of the police reflects the diversity of the population, to establishing fully independent bodies to investigate incidents of alleged police abuse.

The renewed discussions around racism following the police killing of George Floyd had also opened people’s eyes to the “systemic racism and inequalities that have permeated the daily life of minority groups, affecting their access to education, employment, health and housing”, ECRI stressed.

ECRI calls on all decision-makers in Council of Europe member states to use the windows of opportunity to deliver clear messages of zero tolerance and to take effective action against racism and discrimination in policing and other areas, and to push forward with the implementation of ECRI’s recommendations and increase awareness about the historical dimensions of racism and inequalities, especially colonialism and slavery, whose legacies have affected the whole of Europe.

Adira Kallo with ECRI press statement

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is a unique human rights monitoring body which specialises in questions relating to the fight against racism, discrimination (on grounds of “race”, ethnic/national origin, colour, citizenship, religion, language, sexual orientation and gender identity), xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in Europe. In its country monitoring work, ECRI analyses the situation in each of the member states and makes recommendations for dealing with any problems of racism and intolerance identified there.

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