Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee

The question of racial profiling by the police


Racial profiling is the consideration of race, ethnicity or national origin by an officer of the law in deciding when and how to intervene in an enforcement capacity.

Law enforcement officers consider racial profiling to identify possible criminal activity before it occurs. For example, if people are seen loitering in dangerous areas or if they have many expensive items in a poor area. They may be seen as a person who may profile as someone involved in crime, such as theft or drugs.

This is a heated issue in law enforcement when it is based solely on age, race, ethnicity or national origin of the individual. Statistics have shown; the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed and shot by police on average (Vanity Fair), Black children were nine times as likely as white children to have at least one parent in prison.

During a traffic stop in 1998 the shooting of three young minority men on the New Jersey Turnpike helped park the nation issue on the issue of ‘racial profiling’ by the police. Critics have charged that aggressive stop-and-search tactics arose public confidence and violate the civil rights of all citizens. Defenders of profiling have argued that there has been a significant decrease in America’s crime rate and oppose efforts to collect data on stop-search tactics.  Statistics have shown that African-American drivers are twice as likely to be arrested during a traffic stop.

Defenders of profiling condemn it if it is solely on the basis of race, but instead use it to look for signs that a person might be a lawbreaker as good police work. If black people are being stopped and searched at a disproportionately high rate as compared to whites because that commit a disproportionately high number of crimes. Defenders have statistics which show, that while blacks comprise only about 13% of the population in America, and make up 35% of all drug arrests and 55% of all drug convictions.

2 weeks after the September 11th attacks that resulted in the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York, done by 19 Middle Eastern terrorists, resulted in more than 500 people who were arrested and a thousand residents were also questioned. The vast majority of these questioned were Arab Americans or of middle Eastern nationalities. Commenters have argued that theses actions can be justified because a disproportionate number of terrorists are Arabic or Middle Eastern. Civil rights groups have decided the practice of subjecting these individuals to questioning based solely on their race or ethnicity.

During WW2 the U.S. government, fearful of potential spies from Japan, sent hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans to detention camps in Southern California. Many of those incarcerated were American citizens. In a decision that has largely been considered one of the most iniquitous in the history of the Supreme Court. They found that during times of war, the military should have discretion to make decisions regarding the incarceration of certain groups and that the government’s actions in incarcerating Japanese Americans were justified.

Response of the UN

Germany– According to a report conducted by the Interior ministry in Germany, there has been a recent increase in hate crimes and violence against migrant groups in Germany. The reports concluded that there were more than 10 attacks per day against migrants in Germany in 2016.This report from Germany garnered the attention of the United Nations, which alleged that people of African descent face widespread discrimination in Germany.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement in 2016 after a visit to Germany which stated that “although the [German] constitution guarantees equality, bans racial discrimination and enshrines the inviolability of human dignity, these principles are not put into practice.” The report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights further asserts that people of African descent, in particular, face high rates of racial profiling from law enforcement officials and high levels of discrimination and defines the problem of racial profiling and discrimination as “endemic”.
Spain– Racial profiling by police forces in Spain is a common practice. A study by the University of Valencia, found that people of non-white aspect are up to ten times more likely to be stopped by the police on the street. Amnesty International accused Spanish authorities of using racial and ethnic profiling, with police singling out people who do not look Caucasian in the street and public places.

In 2011, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) urged the Spanish government to take “effective measures” to ethnic profiling, including the modification of existing laws and regulations which permit its practice In 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur, Mutuma Ruteere, described the practice of ethnic profiling by Spanish law enforcement officers “a persisting and pervasive problem” In 2014, the Spanish government approved a law which prohibited racial profiling by police forces. However, several NGO’s claim identity checks which are carried out on grounds of skin colour and ethnicity are still widely practiced despite the ban.

Points to Consider

When writing a resolution, delegates could consider some of the following ideas:

▪ Which methods are needed to help solve the issue of racial profiling and why
▪ How existing methods can be made more efficient and viable
▪ Which member states have the most incidents of racial profiling and whether or not this system should be used
▪ Which situations can be classified as racial profiling
▪ How may other methods be more effective in preventing a crime before it happens