Study accuses Paris police of racial profiling
A study shows that police pick out people for identity checks mainly depending on their ethnicity and the way they dress.Paris – Police in Paris pick out people for identity checks mainly depending on their ethnicity and the way they dress, rather than based on suspicious activity, a study released Tuesday said.
For the study, financed by the Open Society Institute of American billionaire George Soros and conducted with French researchers, investigators observed police stops at five sites near busy train and metro stations.
The study found that overall blacks were six times more likely than whites to be stopped by police, while Arabs were 7.6 times more likely to be controlled than whites.
The rate ranged widely across the five sites: blacks were between 3.3 to 11.5 times more likely than whites to be stopped while Arabs were 1.8 to 14.8 times more likely.
"The study confirmed that police stops and identity checks in Paris are principally based on the appearance of the person stopped, rather than on their behavior or actions," according to the report.
"Persons perceived to be ethnic minorities were disproportionately stopped by the police," it said.
"People wearing "youth clothing" -- different clothing styles typically associated with young French persons such as "hip-hop", "goth", and "tecktonic" -- were also targeted by the police."
Between November 2007 and May 2008, the investigators watched police stop people for identity checks near the Gare du Nord train station and the Chatelet-Les Halles metro hub.
The investigators observed 525 police checks during that time and then tried to speak with the people who were controlled.
"This study marks the first time that ethnic profiling by French police has been statistically proven, confirming decades of anecdotal reports," Rachel Neild, of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said in a statement.
"French youth of immigrant origin feel singled out and stigmatized by constant police stops," Neild said.
"Not only does our study question the effectiveness of these police stops, it also makes clear that these practices underlie the increasingly frequent and often violent altercations between young people and the police."
Paris police spokeswoman Marie Lajus said officers do not aim to do identity checks in a "statistical manner".
"What we look for is to prevent misdemeanors or more serious crimes committed in these locations ... along parameters that are empirical and police work," she said.
"Statistically, you have a better chance of finding hashish on a rasta than on an executive in a suit," Lajus added.
AFP / Expatica