Racial profiling key element in the new deal on the Schengen Borders Code

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EU lawmakers have reached a political agreement on the revision of the Schengen Borders Code that would de facto legitimise racial profiling in border checks.

The reform of the Schengen Borders Code aims at reducing the amount of temporary generalised internal EU border checks. However, it would escalate checks on specific groups of people. In particular, the deal would allow police authorities in joint patrols to carry out “random” document checks near internal EU borders with the aim of apprehending people without valid travel or residence documents. Research has already shown that police tend to stop people for checks based on racial, ethnic, or religious characteristics. It is clear that these checks will depend on police’s decisions about who “looks like” a person without valid papers.

Silvia Carta, Advocacy Officer at PICUM, said: “This agreement embraces a very harmful narrative which assumes that people crossing borders without valid documents are a threat to the EU and proposes to address it by increasing policing, while de facto encouraging racial profiling”.

The deal would also legalise the violent practice of ‘internal pushbacks’, which consists in apprehending and detaining people caught without a valid document near an internal border, and transferring them to the member state the police think the person came from without conducting an individual assessment. It is still unclear which ‘safeguards’ have been introduced to protect children, who are not explicitly excluded from such transfer procedures.

The deal would most likely escalate the use of monitoring and surveillance technologies that do not apply relevant safeguards and would be at odds with existing EU data protection legislation and fundamental rights.

Lastly, the deal would also allow internal checks and increased policing in situations of so-called “instrumentalisation of migration”, that is when a member state claims that a non-EU country or ‘hostile non state actor’ is pushing migrants towards external EU borders for political reasons. This is an extremely problematic concept, whose codification into EU law would introduce broad derogations to fundamental rights, including the right to asylum and freedom of movement.