Challenging ethnic profiling in Europe

On July 30, 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Committee became the first international tribunal to declare that police identity checks that are motivated by race or ethnicity run counter to the international human right to non-discrimination. The committee issued its views concerning the Rosalind Williams v. Spain communication.

Williams’ case began 17 years ago, when she, a naturalized Spanish citizen, was stopped by a National Police officer in the Valladolid, Spain, rail station. Of all the people on the train platform, she was the only one to be stopped and asked for her identity documents. She was also the only black person on the platform. Williams soon launched a legal challenge to the identity check, claiming she was targeted because of her race.

Eighteen years later, Williams is still waiting for the Spanish government to issue a public apology and end ethnic profiling by police.  She recently discussed with Racial Neild, senior advisor on ethnic profiling and police reform with the Equality and Citizenship Program of the Open Society Justice Initiative, and James A. Goldston is the founding executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, on the issue of racial and ethnic profiling in Europe. Click here to listen to the event.

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