Press release

Groundbreaking Study Finds Massive Ethnic Profiling

Date
June 09, 2006
Contact
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MOSCOW—A groundbreaking report released today finds that riders on the Moscow Metro who appear non-Slavic are over twenty times more likely to be stopped by police than those who look Slavic. Riders who appear non-Slavic make up less than five percent of all Moscow Metro patrons but account for over half of all people stopped by the Moscow Metro police.

The finding is contained in Ethnic Profiling in the Moscow Metro, a new report produced by the Open Society Justice Initiative and JURIX, a Moscow-based constitutional law nongovernmental organization.

"This is the most extreme ethnic profiling ever measured," said James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative. "The difference between how often Moscow Metro police stop Slavs and how often they stop non-Slavs is so massive that it cannot be explained on nondiscriminatory, legitimate law enforcement grounds."

Ethnic Profiling in the Moscow Metro quantifies the prevalence of ethnic profiling by police in Russia for the first time. The study employed the same scientific means to quantify the practice in Moscow as were used to measure racial profiling in the United States and United Kingdom. Trained monitors observed over 1,000 police stops in the Moscow Metro system. Based on data from their observations and interviews with victims of these stops, the report proves not only the pervasiveness of ethnic profiling in the Moscow Metro but also its futility, as the study concludes that these stops rarely result in arrest or even uncover minor administrative infractions.

"A city like Moscow that has been the target of terrorist attacks simply cannot afford to have police wasting time and resources by stopping anyone who looks different," said Goldston. "It is ineffective, perpetuates discrimination, and violates international human rights norms."

The release of the report comes during a visit to Russia by UN Special Rapporteur on Racism and Xenophobia Doudou Diène.

In addition to giving a scientific measure of racial profiling, the report provides recommendations for reforming the Moscow Metro police's practices, including devising stop-and-search guidelines based on behavior and other objective factors rather than apparent ethnicity, and amending legislative provisions so that patrol police are not responsible for collecting fines for document violations.

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