Stop racism, not people | Press release me, let me go | 14 Dec 2011 | Amnesty International UK

Stop racism, not people

People being stopped by police because of the way they look; other members of the public seeing those people being stopped and questioned and then associating them with crime and criminality – thus an escalating cycle of prejudice and racism.

Sound familiar? Well “ethnic profiling” whereby police stop a disproportionate amount of people from ethnic minorities, has been something of a headline hogger today. An Amnesty report said that the practice of selecting individuals for checks based on racial characteristics, should not be allowed. It might come as a surprise that the report I am talking about focussed on stop-checks being carried out by police in Spain.

Izza Leghtas, Amnesty International’s researcher, said of the findings:

“People who do not ‘look Spanish’ can be stopped by police as often as four times a day, for identity checks, at any time of day or night, in any place or situation.

“It affects both foreigners and Spanish nationals from ethnic minorities. It is not only discriminatory and illegal – it also fuels prejudice – as those who witness such stops presume the victims to be engaged in criminal activities.”

The report notes that certain police stations in Madrid have been given quotas for the number of irregular migrants they have to detain, thus encouraging officers to target people belonging to ethnic minorities.

In related news, ,Theresa May, speaking at a conference in London on “Reading the Riots” today, ordered a review into the use of stop and search here in Britain and so, the aptly titled report on Spain, Stop racism, not people, has got some interesting food for thought for any police force exploring the consequences of selecting individuals for checks based solely on their physical characteristics.

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