Press release

Open Society Justice Initiative Convenes Experts Meeting On Ethnic Profiling By Police in Europe

January 27, 2005
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BUDAPESTA workshop in Budapest will examine police discrimination against minorities in five European countries and Russia on January 27–28.

Convened by the Open Society Justice Initiative, the meeting brings together experts from the United States, the United Kingdom, and European regional bodies—including the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe—to identify tools for documenting and addressing ethnic profiling practices and to develop legal and policy remedies.

Broadly speaking, ethnic profiling involves the use of ethnic stereotypes by law enforcement officers as a factor in determining who has been, is, or may be involved in criminal activity. Ethnic profiling violates rights to equal treatment. It may also undermine law enforcement effectiveness.

Across Europe, allegations of racism in policing and criminal justice are widespread. Governmental and civil society monitoring bodies have raised concerns about ethnic profiling by the police in a number of European countries.

In the United States and United Kingdom, efforts to address police discrimination in stop and search operations have been underway for a decade. Data gathering has been critical to identifying profiling patterns and possible remedies.

For reasons of history, politics, and, in some cases, law, data on ethnicity is rare in many European countries. In order to combat ethnic profiling, information gathering must be undertaken in a form which simultaneously fulfils governmental obligations to combat discrimination, and safeguards individual privacy and data protection interests. It will be essential to involve members of affected minority and immigrant groups in the design, conduct, and analysis of ethnic data collection efforts.

The Budapest meeting will explore opportunities and impediments to gathering ethnic data on police stop and search practices in six countries during 2005.


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