Verdict of the Administrative Court of Koblenz

‘For us, the fact that the court describes police identity checks on the basis of skin colour as a “minor encroachment” completely misses the point as far as every-day living conditions are concerned.’

Christine Lüders, Head of the Anti-Discrimination Agency

The Federal Police performed an identity check on a black German student on a regional train between Kassel and Frankfurt. Since he had been subject to this sort of arbitrary identity check on a regular basis, this time around, he refused to show the police his ID. The fact that he resisted the order by saying that the behaviour of the police ‘reminded him of SS methods’ provoked the police officer he was referring to to charge him for defamation. On appeal, the court rejected the charge as unfounded on the basis of freedom of expression. The aggrieved party, in turn, sued the Federal Police for breach of his right to informational self-determination (a concept in German law which protects the right of an individual to determine the disclosure and use of his or her personal data).

The Administrative Court of Koblenz ruled in February 2012 that officers of the Federal Police are permitted to check passengers on railway lines used for illegal entry or for violations of the Residence Act, even if the decisive criterion used for the checks is ascribed ethnicity. This controversial verdict attracted a great deal of attention all across the country.

At the appeals hearing on 29 October 2012, the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate ruled that in this case, article 3 paragraph 3 of the German Basic Law should have been taken into account. The Federal Police apologised to the plaintiff and admitted to the unlawfulness of the identity check. The judgment of the first-instance court was reversed. (... more)

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011