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Europe 'must step up' anti-racism efforts: Rights agency

June 5, 2020

Racist harassment, violence and discriminatory ethnic profiling are "commonplace" in Europe, the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency has said. The agency called on governments to do more to fight racism and discrimination.

Demonstrators at the Muslims for Peace demo
Image: imago images/IPON

European Union governments need to step up their efforts to combat racism and discrimination, the bloc's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) said on Friday.

The agency said in a statement that "racist harassment, violence and discriminatory ethnic profiling are commonplace in Europe."

According to a survey of roughly 6,000 people of African descent the agency conducted:

  • 30% of black people in the EU said they had been harassed;
  • 5% said they had been attacked;
  • and a quarter of respondents said they had been stopped by police in the previous five years.

The FRA pointed out that the EU has enacted legislation to combat racial harassment and race-related crime. However, people of African descent still face "widespread and entrenched prejudice and exclusion."

"No one should be targeted because of the color of their skin. No one should be afraid of a police stop just because they are black," said FRA Director Michael O'Flaherty.

Read more: Germany struggles to face its own police racism

He called on EU countries to collaborate to "eradicate racist practices once and for all in Europe."

Black in Berlin

Anti-racism protests have taken place around the world after the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was killed while being restrained by a police officer.

Racial harassment and profiling by police

Rates of racial harassment toward black people varied by EU member state, according to the FRA survey. In the UK, 21% of respondents said they experienced racial harassment, while in Finland the rate was 63%. In Germany, 48% of respondents said they had experienced racial harassment.

The most common form of racial harassment involved offensive non-verbal cues (22%), followed by offensive or threatening comments (21%) and threats of violence (8%). The survey found that only 14% of the most recent incidents of racial harassment were reported to police, meaning a majority of racist incidents went unreported.

When it comes to racial profiling by police, 24% of respondents said they were stopped by police in the last five years, including 11% in the last 12 months. Of those stopped within the last year, 44% believe the last time they were stopped by police was racially motivated. That belief was most prominent among respondents in Italy (70%) and Austria (63%) and lowest in Finland (18%).

dv/rt (AFP, dpa)

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