Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

13 December 2011

Spain: Discrimination condoned by the authorities

Spain: Discrimination condoned by the authorities
Amnesty International research has revealed deliberate identity checks on foreigners in Spain

Amnesty International research has revealed deliberate identity checks on foreigners in Spain

© Olmo Calvo / Fronteras Invisibles


See video
It is time the authorities acknowledge and condemn the practice of racial profiling as discriminatory and unlawful
Source: 
Amnesty International's Izza Leghtas
Date: 
Tue, 13/12/2011

The Spanish authorities must stop the practice of police selecting individuals for identity checks based on their ethnic or racial characteristics, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

Stop racism, not people: Racial profiling and immigration control in Spain, exposes the real extent of identity checks by police based on ethnic and racial characteristics and the consequences for ethnic minorities.

“People who do not ‘look Spanish’ can be stopped by police as often as four times a day, for identity checks,  at any time of day or night, in any place or situation,” said Izza Leghtas, Amnesty International’s researcher on Spain.

“This practice is unlawful under Spanish and International law.”

“It affects both foreigners and Spanish nationals from ethnic minorities. It is not only discriminatory and illegal – it also fuels prejudice – as those who witness such stops presume the victims to be engaged in criminal activities.”

According to Spanish law the police can check the identity of people in public places when there is a security concern, for example when a crime has been committed in the area. However, Amnesty International research has revealed that deliberate identity checks on foreigners in the absence of any security concern are widespread.

Certain police stations in Madrid have been given weekly and monthly quotas for the number of irregular migrants they have to detain thus encouraging officers to target people belonging to ethnic minorities.

Racial profiling, when the police stop to question and arrest people because of their skin colour does not always amount to discrimination, but is discriminatory and illegal according to international law if it has no reasonable or objective justification.

“The Spanish authorities are using stop and search powers abusively as a way to control migration. Spain has the right to control migration, however that should not be at the expense of the rights of migrants and minorities to equality and protection from discrimination,” said Izza Leghtas.

“Spanish police must provide officers with training on how to conduct identity checks in compliance with the principle of equality and the prohibition of discrimination, and bring to an end the intimidation of those who observe or document the identity checks,” said Izza Leghats.

Furthermore, people who peacefully observe or document these identity checks, and inform people of their human rights in such situations, are sometimes intimidated and fined.

“It is time the authorities acknowledge and condemn the practice of racial profiling as discriminatory and unlawful and take measures to eliminate it,” Izza Leghtas said.

Amnesty International also recommends the Spanish government take action to ensure that there are no quotas for detaining irregular migrants and require that police officers record and document all stops.

Regular data on the number of police operations by area and motive should be published, distinguishing between those carried out for immigration control and criminal law enforcement,

“Addressing racial profiling by police is crucial in any serious attempt to combat racism and xenophobia,” said Izza Leghtas.

Issue

Discrimination 

Country

Spain 

Region

Europe And Central Asia 

Index card

Spain: Stop racism, not people: Racial profiling and immigration control in Spain

Download:


This document is also available in:

French
Spanish

Follow #spain @amnestyonline on twitter

News

21 August 2014

Children accused of being members of armed groups in the conflict in Mali are languishing in adult jails while human rights abuses continue.

Read more »
15 August 2014

The number of killings perpetrated by the police is on the rise again in the Dominican Republic whilst legislation intended to fix the problem stalls and stagnates in Congress... Read more »

29 August 2014

The execution of two men in Japan on Friday flies in the face of growing calls in the country to halt the use of capital punishment, said Amnesty International.

Read more »
02 September 2014

The Turkish government’s prosecution of Twitter critics is a deeply hypocritical stance for the host of the Internet Governance Forum, Amnesty International said today.

Read more »
02 September 2014

Fresh evidence uncovered by Amnesty International indicates that members of the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) have launched a systematic campaign of ethnic... Read more »