European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

 

Public presentation of ECRI’s General Policy Recommendation no.11 on combating racism and racial discrimination in policing

PARIS - Council of Europe Office
Thursday 4 October 2007

BACKGROUND PAPER

Safeguarding security and human rights for all is one of the main missions of the police. However, in times of globalisation and international terrorism this mission has become increasingly difficult, and individual police officers are not always well enough equipped to deal with these new challenges. They are confronted with an increasingly diverse society composed of persons from various ethnic and religious backgrounds, with whom they are unfamiliar and they do not always know how to react to this. This sometimes leads to a climate of suspicion and hostility between the police and certain minority groups, in which racism and racial discrimination may thrive.

This problem has been well documented by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), in the framework of its country monitoring work. As this problem exists throughout the whole of Europe, ECRI decided to prepare a specific General Policy Recommendation on combating racism and racial discrimination in policing, which provides legal and policy makers with concrete and practical guidelines in this field.

This Recommendation, which is the result of a wide consultation process with concerned actors, aims to help the police to promote security and human rights for all through adequate policing. It covers racism and discrimination in the context of combating all crime, including terrorism. It stresses the importance of providing effective safeguards against racist acts committed by the police, in order to ensure respect for human rights and that all segments of society have confidence in the police, thereby enhancing overall security. This legal text focuses particularly on racial profiling; racial discrimination and racially motivated misconduct by the police; the role of the police in combating racist offences and monitoring racist incidents; and relations between the police and members of minority groups.

Key recommendations contained in this General Policy Recommendation include:

  • training the police in policing a diverse society;
  • recruiting members of under-represented minority groups into the police force;
  • clearly defining and prohibiting racial profiling by law;
  • ensuring effective investigations into alleged cases of racial discrimination or racially-motivated misconduct by the police;
  • ensuring that the police thoroughly investigate racist offences;
  • establishing systems for recording and monitoring racist incidents.

This important legal text will be presented on 4 October 2007 at a special public event in Paris, which will bring together representatives of the police and Interior Ministries, representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, and research centres and academics working on the issue. ECRI hopes that an open debate among all relevant actors on these important issues will help to identify effective ways of better implementing existing initiatives and provide the necessary impetus for further reform in Council of Europe member States.