End police racial profiling, Amnesty tells Spain
Amnesty International urged Spain to stop police illegally discriminating against immigrants and ethnic minorities by stopping them for unwarranted identity checks, in a report on Wednesday.
Officers pick on foreigners to check their identity papers in public even without legal grounds and fine or intimidate bystanders who observe or document the incidents, the global human rights group said in a report.
Spain's outgoing Socialist government has consistently denied such discrimination takes place and an interior ministry source who asked not to be named reiterated this stance to AFP on Wednesday.
"The police do not carry out selective identity checks based on these racial profiles, on the grounds that people are foreign," the source said. "This is what we have always said."
Amnesty said its "research has revealed that deliberate identity checks on foreigners in the absence of any security concern are widespread," citing testimonies by various people of racial minorities.
"People who do not 'look Spanish' can be stopped by police as often as four times a day, for identity checks, at any time of day or night, in any place or situation," Amnesty's Spain researcher Izza Leghtas said in the report.
"Certain police stations in Madrid have been given weekly and monthly quotas for the number of irregular migrants they have to detain, thus encouraging officers to target people belonging to ethnic minorities."
Amnesty quoted one Senegalese immigrant as saying: "They can take you out of the train or the metro to check your documents... They say they are looking for criminals. But being black isn't being a criminal."
"I think I have been in all the police stations in the city," said Babu, an Indian national. "I have been to the same police station three or four times. All the policemen know me."
A report in March by the United Nations' Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged Spain to end racial profiling in identity checks, a call reiterated by Amnesty in Wednesday's report.
"It is time the authorities acknowledge and condemn the practice of racial profiling as discriminatory and unlawful and take measures to eliminate it," the global rights campaign body said.
"Addressing racial profiling by police is crucial in any serious attempt to combat racism and xenophobia."
© 2011 AFP