UN body rules Spanish woman was subject to racism

31st July 2009, Comments 0 comments

A black woman of US origin won a 17-year legal battle to prove that she was a victim of racism when Spanish police stopped her in a train station to produce identity papers.

Geneva – A Spanish woman won a 17-year legal battle Friday to prove she had been subject to racist treatment by police in the country when a UN rights body ruled in her favour.

Rosalind Williams Lecraft, a black woman of US origin, launched the legal campaign in December 1992 after police stopped her in a train station in the northern city of Valladolid.

Lecraft, a Spanish citizen since 1969, claimed officers asked her to produce identity papers and she was the only person in the station targeted, according to the UN's Human Rights Committee.

Believing herself the victim of racism, Lecraft complained to the local authorities.

They refused her complaint, as did various other bodies over the next nine years including the country's interior ministry.

She then took her allegations to the UN's Geneva-based committee, who Friday judged Spanish police had subjected Lecraft to the identity check "solely because of her racial characteristics".

These characteristics were "the main reason to suspect her" of acting outside the law, according to a decision issued by the body.

The committee said when authorities carry out identity checks, physical or ethnic characteristics cannot be considered as an indicator that the individual is illegally in the country.

The body, composed of 18 experts charged with ensuring UN members follow international rights agreements, ordered Spain to make amends to Lecraft for any suffering caused by the incident.

Lecraft has said the police check left her suffering from "social phobia".

AFP / Expatica

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