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German minister urges U-turn on police racism study

July 10, 2020

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has halted planned research into racial profiling by police, saying it wasn't required. Integration commissioner Annette Widmann-Mauz disagrees and has called for the study to proceed.

Police officers seen from behind / Geisler-Fotopress/C. Hardt)
Image: picture-alliance / Geisler-Fotopress/C. Hardt

Germany should press ahead with its study into racial profiling by police, the government's integration commissioner Annette Widmann-Mauz said on Friday.

In an interview with the Funke media group, she said the issue needs to be dealt with scientifically so an objective debate can be had.

Widmann-Mauz, who is also a deputy minister in the chancellery, added that the argument had been strengthened by German police associations who had supported the idea.

On Sunday, the interior ministry announced it was halting a planned investigation into racial profiling by German police forces.

Read more: Racial profiling: Germany debating police methods

Plan was advanced

The justice and interior ministries last month formulated plans to research the scale of the problem after large anti-police racism protests erupted worldwide in the wake of George Floyd's death.

However, the plan was shelved after Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that as racial profiling is prohibited, it didn't need to be separately examined.

Widmann-Mauz, however, insisted a study would support the officers "who do vital work every day and tackle problems wherever they arise."

Migration, Refugees and Integration Minister Annette Widmann-Mauz
German Migration, Refugees and Integration Commissioner Annette Widmann-MauzImage: picture alliance/dpa/A. Hosbas

Police support critical

The trade union representing Germany's criminal police, the BDK, on Monday, called for the interior ministry not to abandon plans for the study.

"The study should anonymously research the attitude of the police to racism and right-wing extremism," said the head of the BDK Sebastian Fiedler to ZDF.

Read more: 'Race' has no place in the German constitution — or does it?

Co-leader of the German parliamentary Green Party Anton Hofreiter has also called for the assignment of a federal police commissioner to help root out right-wing extremism in the police and security forces.

The study will be discussed "soon" by the cabinet committee, said vice government spokeswoman Martina Fietz, reported ZDF.

kmm/mm (epd, kna)