In the aftermath of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the subsequent debate on police brutality, the US Department of Justice released early December 2014 a "Guidance for Federal Law enforcement agencies regarding the use of race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity".
The previous 2003 Guidance banned racial profiling based on race and ethnicity.
According to the Department of Justice, this new Guidance was supposed to "eliminate some of the existing carve-outs for law enforcement activities related to 'protecting national security or the integrity of the borders.'"
The Guidance states:
"In making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions, such as ordinary traffic stops, Federal law enforcement officers may not use race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity to any degree, except that officers may rely on the listed characteristics in a specific suspect description. This prohibition applies even where the use of a listed characteristic might otherwise be lawful."
As for the activities other than routine or spontaneous law enforcement activities, "(...) federal law enforcement officers may consider race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity only to the extent that there is trustworthy information, relevant to the locality or time frame, that links persons possessing a particular listed characteristic to an identified criminal incident, scheme, or organization, a threat to national or homeland security, a violation of Federal immigration law, or an authorized intelligence activity. In order to rely on a listed characteristic, law enforcement officers must also reasonably believe that the law enforcement, security, or intelligence activity to be undertaken is merited under the totality of the circumstances, such as any temporal exigency and the nature of any potential harm to be averted. This standard applies even where the use of a listed characteristic might otherwise be lawful."
However, according to Human Rights Watch, the revision of the 2003 Guidelines includes "modest improvements".
Indeed, the NGO deplores that:
- this new Guidance does not apply to “interdiction activities in the vicinity of the border, or to protective, inspection, or screening activities” at the border; and
- that it allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) "to continue community mapping programs, through which the FBI collects information on where ethnic and religious communities are located. "
As for Laura W. Murphy, American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office Director: "It's baffling that even as the government recognizes that bias-based policing is patently unacceptable, it gives a green light for the FBI, TSA, and CBP to profile racial, religious and other minorities at or in the vicinity of the border and in certain national security contexts, and does not apply the Guidance to most state and local law enforcement."
Posted by Flavie Fuentes
A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Various jurisdictions have enacted statutes to prevent discrimination based on a person's race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual orientation.
Source: Cornell University Law School