Submission to the UN on Ethnic Profiling in Spain

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In advance of the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Spain in January 2013, this submission details the extent and impact of ethnic profiling on minorities in Spain, and how these practices violate international human rights standards.

Spanish police routinely rely on physical or racial characteristics when conducting identity checks in the course of ordinary law enforcement and as part of immigration control. The use of such ethnic profiling disproportionately affects the rapidly growing number of ethnic minorities in Spain simply because they do not “look” Spanish.

This practice continues despite the fact that the United Nations Human Rights Committee found ethnic profiling to be impermissible in its 2009 decision in Rosalind Williams v. Spain. The Human Rights Committee stated that while identity checks can be carried out for protecting public safety, preventing crime, and controlling illegal immigration, the physical and ethnic characteristics of people targeted cannot be considered indicators of potentially illegal immigration status and cannot serve as justifications for identity checks. 

This submission offers recommendations to address the problem of ethnic profiling in Spain and key questions to ask the Spanish government.