Pre-flight drugs checks 'discriminatory'
16 December 2003 , AMSTERDAM — Pre-flight inspections for drugs on flights from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to the Netherlands Antilles are based on an unjustified distinction of race, the Equal Treatment Commission said on Tuesday.
16 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — Pre-flight inspections for drugs on flights from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to the Netherlands Antilles are based on an unjustified distinction of race, the Equal Treatment Commission said on Tuesday.
Stung by an alarming amount of drug smuggling arrests at the Amsterdam airport, the Dutch government resolved to conduct pre-flight checks on risk flights from October 2002. KLM was permitted to refuse passengers to board based on those checks.
But the commission's findings means that KLM may no longer accept the travel advice from the so-called Schiphol-Team, an NOS news report said.
Passengers are approached by the team after they have checked-in and asked several questions. On the basis of their answers, the team assesses whether the passengers pose a high-risk of smuggling drugs on the return journey.
The team can issue a negative travel advice for an individual passenger and KLM has refused boarding permission to 1,649 people based on the advice in the past year.
A spokesman from discrimination reporting bureau Meldpunt Discriminatie, Maurice Spijkers, complained about the pre-flight checks, saying he did not know how to detect someone who might smuggle drugs in the future.
And a foundation on Curacao, the largest Antillean island, has also submitted a complaint over the actions of KLM and the Schiphol team.
The foundation said people with a valid passport and ticket an no prior criminal conviction planning on taking a holiday or visiting family in the Antilles were being refused permission to board KLM flights.
Spijkers also said the identified "potential drugs couriers" rarely had blue eyes and blonde hair and that discrimination based on skin colour was occurring. And the Equal Treatment Commission — which the meldpunt called in to assess the pre-flight checks — backed the discrimination bureau's claims.
Meanwhile, customs officials, military police and the public prosecution launched so-called 100-percent inspection operation on flights from the Antilles to Schiphol last week.
This means that everyone who arrived in Amsterdam from the Antilles is being subjected to drugs inspections. Due to the fact that almost everyone is being subjected to checks, there is no talk of discrimination.
But in a bid to reduce the burden placed on the legal system, anyone caught smuggling drugs under 3kg will not be arrested or prosecuted. The previous limit was 1.5kg.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news