Human Rights Commissioner voices concern over terrorist profiling

New forms of "terrorist profiling" have resulted in "unacceptable discrimination against Muslims and people who appear to be of Middle-Eastern origin," Thomas Hammarberg said

Human Rights Commissioner voices concern over terrorist profiling
New forms of "terrorist profiling" have resulted in "unacceptable discrimination against Muslims and people who appear to be of Middle-Eastern origin," the Council of Europe (COE) Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg said Tuesday.

Hammarberg stressed that the governments in Europe should "encourage community policing and draw up long-term measures with a view to preventing the causes of terrorism".

He added that profiling has been increasingly used in the fight against terrorism since the US September 11 attacks.

He noted that the fear of further terrorist attacks was creating a new form of "terrorist profiling," in which "Muslims or people who appear to be of Middle-Eastern descent were being discriminated against in the name of national security".

The Commissioner stressed that "racial and religious profiling" should not be used in the combat against terrorism as "this approach is not acceptable".

According to Hammarberg, "the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has issued a Recommendation expressing its concern about the consequences of the methods used in the combat against terrorism. Certain groups of persons, including visible minorities, have become particularly vulnerable to racism and/or to racial discrimination across many fields of public, including when subjected to checks carried out by law enforcement officials".

He considered the essential assumption of the current terrorist profiling as "dangerous," namely that young Muslim men of "Middle-Eastern appearance" were particularly likely to be involved in terrorist activity.

He remarked that such an approach led to the harassment of a large number of innocent persons, where they also have been treated as suspect "for no good reason".
"The complexity of the terrorism situation worldwide and the constant development of terrorist aims and methods make it difficult to develop accurate profiles," he noted, adding that terrorist groups are "aware" of such profiles and are "targeting recruits who do not fit into the preconceived stereotypes," according to the Commissioner.
He said there was no tangible evidence proving that profiling had been effective in the fight against terrorism, where "terrorist profiling may also be counter-productive".
Hammarberg affirmed that law enforcement activities should be "strictly based on individual behavior and/or accumulated intelligence, rather than sweeping generalization".

He called on the Council of Europe member states to adopt "appropriate" measures to act against the terrorist threats and "safeguard the lives of those within their jurisdiction," where "effective police methods" should replace the current profiling.
He noted that the fight against terrorism also required the adoption of long-term measures "with a view to preventing the causes of terrorism, and not just short-term responses".

He added that this required, for instance, additional efforts to "promote cohesion in our societies and a multicultural and inter-religious dialogue".

Muslims in Europe and the US have been targeted and were being singled out for more scrutiny and tougher treatment following the September 11 attacks and a series of bombings notably in Madrid and London.

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, located in Strasbourg, France and is mandated to promote the awareness and respect for human rights in the 46 Council of Europe member states.

The Commissioners work focuses on encouraging reform measures to achieve tangible improvement in the area of human rights promotion and protection
Last Mod: 30 Mayıs 2007, 11:48
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