Moral Low Ground


Police Racial Profiling Approved by German Court

German Federal Police check a black man's papers (Photo: Bundespolizei)

A German court has ruled that Federal Police officers may conduct ID checks based on skin color.

According to n-tv and the Global Post, the administrative court in Koblenz, Rhineland-Palatinate threw out a complaint filed by a black German man who was asked to show his papers while traveling by train on a route frequently used by undocumented immigrants to enter the country. The man refused and was taken to a police station and searched.

Two Federal Police (Bundespolizei) officers sued the man for abusing them, and at a court hearing one of the officers said he checks the IDs of train passengers he deemed to be foreigners. The officer said that skin color informs his judgment on who is or isn’t German. The black man then sued the Federal Police for illegal conduct.

But the administrative court judges ruled that skin color was probable cause for an ID check due to the fact that many undocumented immigrants use the route in question to illegally enter Germany. Because it is impossible for officers to check every passenger, the judges ruled, they may be selective based on their “border policing experience.”

This allows Federal Police officers to choose who to check “according to external appearance,” even when there is no other reason to suspect wrongdoing.

“If this is true, it is essentially illegal,” Tahir Della of the Black People in Germany Initiative told The Local. “The authorities have always said that police do not do racial profiling.”

According to 2005 figures, there are about 500,000 Afro-Germans out of a total national population of 80 million. There are substantial concentrations of blacks in Hamburg and in Berlin, where 70,000 people, or 2% of the population, are of African origin.

Since the 1980s, Germany has experienced waves of immigrants from African nations who enter the country fleeing political violence and seeking work.

Racial profiling recently made headlines in Germany when Christoph Blume, head of Düsseldorf Airport, said that racial profiling in airports was a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism.

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  1. Andreas MoserMarch 27, 2012 at 11:09 pmReply

    A disgrace. Here are 10 tips to follow if you don’t want to be picked up by German police:

    • Brett WilkinsMarch 28, 2012 at 7:46 amReplyAuthor

      Your list would be almost humorous if it wasn’t rooted in so much truth!

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