‘Veil searches’ and ethnic profiling

‘The net of veil searches is knotted in such a way that a disproportionate amount of minorities get caught in it.’

Martin Herrnkind , Verdacht des Verdachts, 2000

The term ‘veil search’ (Schleierfahndung) denotes police checks conducted by the regional (Land) police without a catalysing event or reason for suspicion. After the Schengen Agreement came into force, veil searches were introduced at the regional level to compensate for the absence of border controls. In 1995, Bavaria became the first Land to employ veil searches. This investigation tactic continues to be used wilfully in many Länder to combat ‘crimes committed by foreigners’ (illegal immigration, violations of asylum provisions) and drug-smuggling in border areas.

Veil searches make indirect use of ethnic profiling, as considerable leeway is given by the individual police assessment of a suspect without there having to be specific grounds for suspicion.

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011