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Home >> Equinet Activities >> Events >> Seminar - Equality Bodies countering Ethnic Profiling

Seminar - Equality Bodies countering Ethnic Profiling

September 17th 2018

This one-and-a-half-day seminar was co-organized in November 2018 with the Open Society Justice Initiative to bring together national equality bodies and selected expert speakers to discuss equality bodies’ role in countering ethnic profiling.

What is ethnic profiling?

The Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey conducted by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in 2017 showed that ethnic profiling is a persistent problem across the EU. Ethnic profiling by police in Europe is a widespread form of discrimination that violates international and EU human rights norms. It refers to law enforcement actions by the police, security, immigration or customs officials, including stops (and searches), identity checks and levying fines, initiated solely or mainly on the basis of individuals’ personal characteristics rather than on their behaviour or objective evidence. Such acts are not just unlawful, they can lead to stigmatisation of individuals and communities as a whole, undermine the trust in law enforcement and damage community relations. Moreover, ethnic profiling is an ineffective policing strategy that results in stopping a large number of innocent people.


The context under which profiling is taking place has changed significantly in the last years:

  • Terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris and elsewhere, and the assertions about an elevated terrorism threat have led to the development of counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation policies which have increased ethnic profiling.
  • Border controls inside the EU and at the EU’s external borders are enhanced in response to an increase in the number of migrants and asylum seekers arriving to Europe.
  • Algorithmic profiling and automated decision-making have been introduced or are tested by law enforcement authorities raising questions of transparency and bias in the use of technology.

While existing EU norms already outlaw racial discrimination, EU-wide guidelines on ethnic profiling would be useful to ensure that those norms are implemented in practice. International organisations such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations have adopted positions on the matter.

At the same time, equality bodies across Europe have been playing an increasingly important role in the fight against ethnic profiling. Equality bodies have been involved in high-profile cases in recent years on this issue, underlining their significant contribution to litigation efforts. Furthermore, several equality bodies have recently engaged to raise awareness around this issue. Ranging from hosting major conferences and conducting research projects to a joint project with the Fundamental Rights Agency.


This seminar brought together equality bodies and selected expert speakers to discuss equality bodies’ role in supporting legal challenges to ethnic profiling, engaging with civil society and promoting reforms. It was aimed to to collect good practices by equality bodies in countering ethnic profiling and to foster mutual learning. The seminar results will be compiled in a publication highlighting equality bodies’ good practices. Specific objectives of the seminar were:

  • To further sensitise equality body staff and raise their awareness about ethnic profiling and successful initiatives and techniques countering it;
  • To raise equality bodies’ awareness about the legal landscape and standards around ethnic profiling and the role they can play in supporting legal challenges to it and spreading good practice;
  • To provide a forum for sharing good practices (successful legal initiatives and techniques countering ethnic profiling, making important contributions to debates and legal standard setting, etc.);
  • To discuss how civil society and equality bodies can best cooperate in countering ethnic profiling;
  • To define possible concrete common activities by equality bodies at European level that support developments.

Concept Note and Agenda

Further Information from OSJI

Contact details

For further information on the seminar, please contact Axel Ruppert (Event Coordinator): Telephone: +32 (0)2 212 3185 or via


The picture used as the logo is Creative Commons by Marco Verch. It can be found here

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