Home General Italy Police Accused Of Racial Bias By UN-Backed Rights Panel

Italy Police Accused Of Racial Bias By UN-Backed Rights Panel

The U.N. International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement was established in 2021 after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Italy police
File picture of a police station in Rome, Italy

ROME: A U.N.-backed human rights panel called on Italy to address racial profiling in law enforcement on Friday.

The panel also expressed concern about overcrowding in Italian prisons and its impact, highlighting the disproportionate incarceration of Africans and people of African descent.

The U.N. International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement was established in 2021 after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Floyd’s death unleashed a wave of protests worldwide against police brutality and racism after the white policeman knelt on the handcuffed Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes.

With the government’s approval, the panel undertook an eight-day mission across Italy, visiting Rome, Milan, Catania and Naples to assess the intersection of race and law enforcement practices.

Talking to the foreign press in Rome, they said they had heard testimonies on racial profiling as a basis for identity checks and stop-and-search by different law enforcement agencies in Italy, under the assumption either that the person was not an Italian citizen or on the presumption of criminality.

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“This racial bias, stereotypes and profiling create harmful and spurious associations of Blackness with criminality and delinquency,” said Akua Kuenyehia, chairperson of the group.

“The legitimate task to promote citizens’ safety and security should not be construed as a licence to engage in racial profiling. This practice erodes trust in law enforcement and, as a result, reduces law enforcement effectiveness,” she said.

Among the panel’s findings was a lack of comprehensive race-based data hampering Italy’s efforts to address racial disparities.

It also noted instances of torture and ill-treatment, including at a Milan juvenile prison where 13 guards were arrested last month on charges of serious ill-treatment of inmates.

The panel will draft a full report to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September.
(REUTERS)

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In a career spanning three decades and counting, I’ve been the foreign editor of The Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and the New Indian Express. I helped set up rediff.com’s editorial operations in San Jose and New York, helmed sify.com, and was the founder editor of India.com. My work has featured in national and international publications like the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, Global Times and Ashahi Shimbun. My one constant over all these years, however, has been the attempt to understand rising India’s place in the world. I can rustle up a mean salad, my oil-less pepper chicken is to die for, and it just takes some beer and rhythm and blues to rock my soul.