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Lawsuit ethnic profiling motivates travelers to report

Being the only one removed from the queue at the airport time after time, while other passengers can simply walk on. After an appeal last year, the Meldpunt Discriminatie Regio Amsterdam (MDRA) and fellow anti-discrimination facilities regularly received similar reports from travelers with a dark skin color or migration background. The reports underscore the importance of the lawsuit against the state on June 15, 2021.
A coalition of civil society organizations and citizens, including anti-discrimination service RADAR, is asking the court to put an end to ethnic profiling in border controls by the Royal Netherlands Military Police.

Victims of ethnic profiling can turn to the Meldpunt Discriminatie Regio Amsterdam or one of the other antidiscrimination services for help and support. A listening ear after such a drastic experience is important for many reporters, but the facilities also offer support in following complaints procedures. With one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, antdiscrimination service RADAR went through the complaints procedure at the Royal Military Police and then submitted the case to the National Ombudsman. After the man was vindicated by the National Ombudsman, he was again confronted with ethnic profiling at the same airport. The goal of the lawsuit is to stop this type of practice.

The reports in 2020
Reports about ethnic profiling at airports were handled by complaints consultants from the Bureau Discriminatiezaken Kennemerland, ADV Limburg, RADAR and the Meldpunt Discriminatie Regio Amsterdam. Some of the reports received:

  • A man of African origin often travels through Schiphol and says he is always and only checked by the State Police.
  • A man of North African origin is searched every every time he departs from Rotterdam-The Hague Airport the Marechaussee pulled out of line and interrogated. "At one point I had had enough and I diverted to Belgium or Germany for my flights."
  • A woman of Surinamese descent arrives with her white Dutch partner arrives at Schiphol Airport. She is checked twice by the Marechaussee, while her partner was not checked.
  • "My wife and I were the only passengers with a dark skin color. When we arrived at Rotterdam-The Hague Airport, only only we were checked by the Marechaussee, all other passengers could just walk through," says a man of Surinamese descent.
  • A resident of Eindhoven with a Turkish background regularly flies from Eindhoven Airport to Turkey and is always checked. "Every time I am asked by the Marechaussee to ask for my ID. The other day I was checked again while hundreds of other passengers could just walk through. I first thought it was a coincidence, but now I think it is because I look foreign looking."

About the lawsuit
The trial on June 15 revolves around whether the Royal Military Police may select people for a check partly on the basis of their appearance, skin color or presumed origin (ethnicity). Acting as plaintiffs in the case are: Amnesty International, Control Alt Delete, the Dutch Legal Committee for Human Rights (NJCM), RADAR anti-discrimination agency and two citizens who have been repeatedly ethnically profiled by the Royal Military Police. The proceedings are being coordinated by the lawyers of the PILP-NJCM. The parties are also being assisted by lawyers from Houthoff.

Report ethnic profiling
Travelers who are checked by the marechaussee and suspect that this is done on the basis of their skin color or origin can report this to the Meldpunt Discriminatie Regio Amsterdam or one of the other anti-discrimination facilities. Reporting helps to address discrimination. Go to www.discriminatie.nl or download the Discrimination Notifier app from your app store.

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