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States must step up efforts to counter racial and ethnic profiling – UN rights expert

Geneva, 30 June 2015 – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mutuma Ruteere, called on Governments across the world to boost their efforts to stop the widespread practice of racial and ethnic profiling. Mr. Ruteere urged States to adopt international standards and to pass specific legislation to counter the practice.

“Racial and ethnic profiling violates multiple human rights, including the right to live free from discrimination, the right to equality before the law, the right to personal freedom and security and the right to the presumption of innocence,” the expert said as he presented his latest report* to the UN Human Rights Council.

“The practice of racial and ethnic profiling in law enforcement constitutes a violation of human rights for the individuals and groups targeted by these practices, because of the fundamentally discriminatory nature and because it expands on discrimination already suffered as a result of ethnic origin or minority status,” he stressed.

The Special Rapporteur warned that training and awareness-raising, although a positive step in the right direction, “cannot alone eradicate profiling in law enforcement.”

In his report, Mr. Ruteere urged States to adhere to the different existing legal frameworks to fight the use of racial and ethnic profiling in law enforcement such as the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and, as well as several regional instruments.

The expert also encouraged States that have not enacted specific legislation outlawing the use of racial and ethnic profiling “to seriously consider doing so through clear and unequivocal prohibitions of the use of the practice by law enforcement agencies.”

He also encouraged Governments to gather law enforcement data, including statistics divided by ethnicity and race, noting that they are essential in order to prove the existence and the extent of racial and ethnic profiling.

“Investigative oversight bodies should have the authority to address allegations of racial and ethnic profiling, and make practical recommendations for policy changes,” Mr. Ruteere asserted. “They should be able to conduct self-initiated investigations, as these activities are fundamental to identifying discrimination and profiling by law enforcement agencies”.

The human rights expert called for the effective regulation of the discretionary powers of law enforcement personnel in order to reduce the risks of racial and ethnic profiling.

In that regard, he suggested complementary approaches, such as improving the quality and precision of intelligence-gathering, making sure that law enforcement agents use this information in their decision-making, increasing the supervision of law enforcement officers’ discretionary capacities and enhancing civilians’ understanding of their rights and responsibilities in encounters with law enforcement agents.

Mr. Ruteere also submitted to the Human Rights Council his report on the latest developments in the human rights and democratic challenges posed by neo-Nazis, skinhead groups and similar extremist ideological movements, particularly in the context of the current economic crisis. Finally, the Special Rapporteur presented a report on the Republic of Korea, following his official visit from 29 September to 6 October 2014.

(*) Check the reports:
Racial and ethnic profiling (A/HRC/29/46)
Extremist ideological movements (A/HRC/29/47)
Republic of Korea (A/HRC/29/46/Add.1)