Verdict: skin color must not be a criterion for police control

Verdict: skin color must not be a criterion for police control

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OVG Koblenz complains of violation of the ban on discrimination

Koblenz (jur). This would be a prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, decided the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) Rhineland-Palatinate in a judgment announced on Friday, April 22, 2016 from the previous day (Az .: 7 A 11108 / 14.OVG). Because of their fundamental importance, the Koblenz judges approved the appeal to the Federal Administrative Court.

The background to the legal dispute was the sole control of a dark-skinned family in the regional Mittelrheinbahn between Mainz and Koblenz by the federal police on January 25, 2014. The parents and their five and a half year old children were German. The police officers asked for ID cards and checked their personal details. After the return, the federal police officers got out without checking other people.

The parents felt discriminated against because of their skin color. They were only checked because of their race.

In front of the OVG they were right. According to the Federal Police Act, however, federal police officers may carry out checks on certain trains to prevent illegal entry of foreigners into the federal territory. Regional trains such as the Mittelrheinbahn, which have their starting and ending point in Germany, are not excluded. Random personal checks are also permitted.

Here, however, the skin color was at least one of the decisive criteria for police control. The Koblenz judges clarified that a selection of the people in controls to prevent unauthorized entry, for which the skin color of the people was the sole or at least a decisive criterion, violated the principle of non-discrimination enshrined in the Basic Law.

Police controls were used to combat illegal migration or smuggling crime and thus represented a major public interest. Given the large number of surveys in relation to the small number of illegal entries found of only around one percent, public interest is receding.

A check based on the color of the skin is not permitted. It is no longer possible to determine why the federal police controlled the family. Due to the external circumstances of the inspection and the sometimes unclear information provided by the witnesses, it can be assumed that the skin color was a decisive factor in the inspection.

Already on October 29, 2012, the OVG had already indicated in another procedure that ID checks based on skin color are not acceptable and that they constitute discrimination (Az .: 7 A 10532 / 12.OVG; JurAgentur announcement of October 30, 2012). After the federal police officers apologized at the time, the proceedings were considered to be settled with the plaintiffs' consent. A formal decision was therefore not made at the time. (fle / mwo)

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