• Germany edition
 
Police: sorry for racial profiling on ID checks
Photo: DPA

Police: sorry for racial profiling on ID checks

Published: 30 Oct 2012 11:19 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Oct 2012 11:19 GMT+01:00

The now 26-year-old student told The Local in March he had been asked for his identification around 15 times in three years when travelling on trains between Kassel and Frankfurt. “The only thing I probably did was to look illegal,” he said.

In December 2010 he got into an argument with two federal police officers who demanded his ID but could not tell him why – so he refused to show them.

The federal police admitted they generally selected people for spot ID checks on the basis of their appearance – including skin colour, and this led to a court case at the end of February.

To the outrage of many, the Koblenz administrative court said such racial profiling was justified.

The student, who does not want to be identified, vowed to fight it, and on Monday afternoon the Koblenz administrative appeals tribunal nullified the initial ruling.

“The two officers were questioned by the tribunal, which then said making decisions on the basis of skin colour was illegal,” the tribunal’s spokesman Hartmut Müller-Rentschler told The Local.

“A representative of the federal police apologised to the plaintiff, who said that this was enough to satisfy him. As a result the case was deemed closed and the ruling of the lower court was declared to have no effect; it was nullified.”

Though this is not as legally strong as a formal verdict that racial profiling was illegal, Müller-Rentschler said it was likely to be taken as a signal, and that the federal police were likely to examine and change their practices.

“This result is a milestone for the legal classification of racial profiling as against the law. This case sends a significant signal for the practice of the federal police,” the student’s lawyer Sven Adam said afterwards in a statement.

“I am happy that the decision of the Koblenz administrative court’s decision has been declared null and void,” said the student. “We had to fight for a long time so that the federal police had to adhere to the ban on discrimination.”

Tahir Della, from the Initiative of Black People in Germany (ISD) welcomed the ruling. “We have been fighting for years for public recognition of this practice. Police checks of this kind are no one-off.

“They are the everyday experience of many black people and people of colour in Germany. They are put under suspicion and criminalised by this police practice. We hope that this verdict will serve as a basic political signal.”

Hannah Cleaver (hannah.cleaver@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:02 October 30, 2012 by gorongoza
The finger prooved to be too,too thin to hide behind on this one.
12:13 October 30, 2012 by raandy
I read this when it first appeared about a year or so ago.

I believe this individual was sitting on the train and the police went by numerous people to reach him. Easy to understand his frustration. One would think that maybe they considered him more of a person of interest because of his color,which in truth should not matter. Not to check all passengers routinely and go directly to him is outrageous.
12:22 October 30, 2012 by lucksi
To be fair, if you are black in Germany, then you are standing out like...well, like a black guy in Germany.

Some years ago, I met my first black person in Germany. And it only took 32 years before I ever saw one here(not counting visits to the UK, Canada and the US).

And it doesn't surprise me in the least that they are being checked more often. I will also not be surprised when I get checked in Japan because I am standing out there.

BTW, this post isn't racism, because I use "black person", just simple (ugly) truth.
12:46 October 30, 2012 by eddyrock19
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
13:00 October 30, 2012 by LecteurX
Yes eddyrock19. USA "troubles with immigrants" very much indeed. Look at all the Apache, and Sioux, and Cheyenne and Natchez and Iroquois... all dispossessed and obliterated by those bloody European immigrants.

You probably are very knowledgeable about immigration in the USA, as your eloquence in the English language proves your strong ties to that great nation.

But thank you for this, really. And now, the connection to the topic of the article is?
13:11 October 30, 2012 by raandy
lucksi, my good man, are you trying to say a Black Person in Germany is a rarity?

I see many Black People every day, from many different places, my mail person here in Berlin is Black.Sometimes my bus driver is Black.The clerk at the grocery store has been on occasion Black.

Your trying to say a Black person sticks out like a white bean in a black cats ^ss, not so.
14:08 October 30, 2012 by lucksi
@raandy: Depends on where you live I guess. And yes, until a few years ago, it was an utter rarity. Otherwise the joke along the lines of "There is about one black guy in Germany. We call him Bob" wouldn't have come into existance.
14:22 October 30, 2012 by raandy
lucks, how long ago was the "bob" joke?, been here 25 years and there has always,been a fair amount of Black people, for sure more in the last 10 years.

Many of the American Blacks were here in the military and remained, often married to a German like myself.

True the demographics are different and Berlin being more international would have a higher population in that regard.

My point is that it is no rarity to see people of color in my Hood -:)
17:22 October 30, 2012 by michael4096
I'm somewhat confused. The original ruling was that the cops were not wrong in using racial profiling because to do the jobs they were given they would have to. Does this ruling say that they were wrong to use profiling - they should refuse to do the job? Or, that the job they were given was wrong? Or, just that the situation is a mess and the police shouldn't do it while things are being sorted out?
21:17 October 30, 2012 by joysonabraham
Hey @raandy so you are a black American married and settled here or a white American married and settled here.

Just being curious. nothing to do with race whatever
08:31 October 31, 2012 by hech54
I think also very important is.....Are you obliged by law to show ID to all German police when they simply walk up and ask for it?

I can't imagine any of the privacy-crazed Germans I know simply handing over ID to someone in a green or blue uniform while they are just sitting on a bus or walking down the street.
12:22 October 31, 2012 by gkh50
Ref: I can't imagine any of the privacy-crazed Germans I know simply handing over ID to someone in a green or blue uniform while they are just sitting on a bus or walking down the street.

PMSL.. Of course the Germans do what they are told. The police do what they want, legality is a fallacy.
12:29 October 31, 2012 by Nina Williams
I remember the guy was particularly hurt he said because he was born and raised here and these checks always occured after he returned from visiting family. I don't understand the logic, perhaps someone can explain to me. Who are they looking for? Illegal immigrants? Are they more predisposed to use the trains? Are they more likely to be caught travelling in the center of this country like this guy as opposed to the borders? How many have been caught? Where did they originate from? What is the percentage of illegal immigration in this country? Perhaps if we had some facts to back up police thinking then we could maybe understand what they are doing, because quite frankly it looks patently racist.

For the record this has happened to me as well. The last time it occured, I was travelling with my German husband. Once I saw them enter the carriage I immediately got out my passport. My husband was confused and asked me why, and I told him I was about to get controlled. In the entire car they checked the 4 or 5 Arabic looking gentlemen and of course me. When they came to me, my husband held out his passport too, and the Police suprised said oh you are together and then didn't bother to run my passport. Soooo, because I am married to a German I am less predisposed to be up to something illegal?
02:08 November 1, 2012 by gorongoza
I have a feeling its not gonna be long before the word sorry loses its meaning to many.
08:05 November 1, 2012 by trevzns
This issue of racial profiling is not unique to Germany.

Group projection is easy and convenient. Scapegoating black people and dark skin foreigners for economic despair, violence and problems is standard behavior for most Europeans and other cultural groups around the world.

.
19:15 November 1, 2012 by raandy
joysonabraham, Nice that you are curious about me,I think.

No Iam a white American married to a German, been here for 25+ years, two children and a rabbit.
21:34 November 1, 2012 by septiSeverus
Profiling of black citizens and black residents is another distraction that provides the general public and the ignorant a sense of security and comfort.

Africans including the small number of african americans in germany account for about 2 precent of the population in Berlin alone. How is it possible black people can establish and operate illegal cash tax free enterprises in germany?

The question and concern should be, who profiles the europeans and eurasians that own, police and have control of the ship containers, freight trains, LKWs, aircrafts and autobahns that are used to smuggle illegal drugs and other illegal commodities into germany and europe?
23:06 November 2, 2012 by TLC
luck, you are not slick son. I'm referring to your comment: "BTW, this post isn't racism, because I use "black person", just simple (ugly) truth."

Black people are beautiful!
02:27 November 3, 2012 by blauaugen63
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
03:06 November 4, 2012 by soros
The cops check people who dont look like they are German simply because the country has so many illegals, esp. from Africa. I was at Frankfurt airport when the police took into custody about ten Africans, all who seemed not to have any papers at all; they'd just gotten off a plane. This happens daily. So, what are they supposed to do? Wait till there are eleven million illegals in the country? That's what's been happening in the USA.
18:26 November 4, 2012 by Brasstacks11
Control!!! HA HA! Germany,like its alter ego USA, sometime ago took its giant step to the right after 9/11. Now Germany is a spy country and I would rank it third as the most provocative civil rights offender after the USA and UK. Germans like to think of themselves as the vanguard of liberal civil liberties, but in fact Germany now engages in explicit civil rights violations. Dusseldorf airport? You will be controlled if you have side burns. In fact if you wear Bell Bottom Jeans that is an open invitation to be controlled. Dortmund? After sunset just but anyone is fair game. Banks? Police do not even need a warrant now to a have a peek at your Sparkkasse Account and openly solicit informers in Switzerland. Germany's Basic Law is now the same joke as the US constitution..you have no rights!
13:39 November 9, 2012 by freads
Man..this is scary. I thought Germans were good people. I don't want to be randomly frisked because i'm Indian. This would mean that i should be ready for some legal action for no mistake of mine when i'm there only to just study. Who knows? They might put me in jail because i'm brown and they might think i'm doing something sneaky.
Today's headlines
The Local List
Eight expat groups to save you in Germany
Photo: Jan Perlich/Munich RFC

Eight expat groups to save you in Germany

Think you're the only English speaker in your town or region? Think again! The Local List this week runs through eight of the best expat groups and clubs in Germany. READ  

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost
Former GDR political prisoners Hartmut (l) and Gerda Stachowitz in a East Berlin prison which has stood empty for 20 years. Photo: DPA

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost

Benefit payments to former political prisoners of ex-communist East Germany (GDR) will be raised to send an "important message" 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the government said on Wednesday. READ  

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises
Apartments in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises

Germany's cabinet agreed on Wednesday to cap ballooning property rents in high-demand urban neighbourhoods in a law set to come into force early next year. READ  

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find
Passengers are delayed at Tegel Airport. Photo: DPA

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find

UPDATE: The discovery of a US World War II bomb disrupted flights at Berlin’s Tegel Airport on Wednesday afternoon, with no flights taking off or landing for 30 minutes. The bomb has now been defused but later flights are still delayed. READ  

Refugee abuse guards 'nicknamed the SS'
A photo allegedly showing guards abusing one refugee. Photo: DPA/Police

Refugee abuse guards 'nicknamed the SS'

A group of guards who allegedly abused refugees in an asylum centre in western Germany were nicknamed “the SS” after Hitler's stormtroopers, according to one of their colleagues. Photos of guards abusing refugees have sparked a backlash in Germany against security firms. READ  

Nestle wins the food prize no one wants
First prize went to Nestle for its sugary baby food. Photo: Foodwatch

Nestle wins the food prize no one wants

A food watchdog presented Nestle with a prize to avoid on Wednesday for the cheekiest false advertising of the year. The runner-up was a chicken soup with no chicken in a vote of almost 160,000 Germans. READ  

Merkel's VIP jet set to fly soldiers home
One of the two A340 planes which are reserved for the Chancellor and government leaders. Photo: DPA

Merkel's VIP jet set to fly soldiers home

One of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s VIP jets is set to be used to ferry soldiers home who are stuck in Afghanistan, due to ongoing problems with the German military’s transport planes. READ  

German firms top EU lobbying list
Siemens was the highest ranked German company when it came to spending on EU lobbying, according to the register. Photo: DPA

German firms top EU lobbying list

Germany companies are among the biggest spenders when it comes to EU lobbying to influence decision makers in Brussels. There are more German lobbying organizations registered than from any other country in Europe but Belgium. READ  

City starts beer for alcoholics project
Photo: DPA

City starts beer for alcoholics project

A city in western Germany will start a controversial project on Wednesday to employ alcohol and drug addicts to clean the streets in return for beer, tobacco, food and small amounts of cash. READ  

Fault forces Germany to cut Eurofighters
A German Eurofighter. Photo: DPA

Fault forces Germany to cut Eurofighters

A manufacturing fault has been discovered in the troubled Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes, Germany's defence ministry said on Tuesday, announcing it was suspending deliveries of the sophisticated jets. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Munich
Bavarian independence becomes a reality... (online)
Photo: DPA/Police
National
'Criminals are at work in refugee homes'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Immigrants have created how many German jobs?
Photo: DPA
National
Revealed: Germany's military feet of clay
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Shutterstock
Society
Quiz: How good is your German?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Thousands take to Berlin's streets for marathon
Photo: DPA
Society
'Incest should be legal,' says ethics board
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten noises that sound very different in German
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: Can you pass the German citizenship test?
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,169
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd