Saturday, July 4, 2009

Racial profiling in Paris

A recent report entitled Profiling Minorities: A Study of Stop-And-Search Practices in Paris has been released by the Open Society Justice Initiative. The report details a study which began in 2007. It sough to investigate whether law enforcement officers were stopping individuals because of their appearance, or engaging in “ethnic profiling.” The results of the study revealed that police stops and identity checks in Paris are not based on the behaviour of the stopped individual, but most often based on their appearance. Ethnic minorities were stopped by police at a considerably more significant rate than those not perceived to be ethnic minorities.

The report states that “[i]n targeting certain persons because of what they look like and not because of what they have done, law enforcement officers justify and perpetuate ethnic stereotypes.” The report also discussed the negative way in which this reflects on the accountability and transparency of law enforcement officers, “decreasing their effectiveness in preventing and detecting crime.”

The report made several recommendations. To political and legal authorities, it recommended that they acknowledge the problem of ethnic profiling, encourage and fund ethnic profiling research, review legal standards, modify areas of the Code of Criminal procedure and maintain and support specialized police oversight bodies. To French law enforcement authorities, the report recommended, among other things, that officers be required to explain why they are stopping those they stop, to regularly analyze stop records, to make public statistical data on identity checks, stops and searches and to introduce tools to receive public feedback regarding the quality of police services.

Posted by Ashley Paterson (Law II) (LEAP Summer Intern)

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