In a regional train from Mainz to Cologne an academic family with West African roots, which was on an excursion trip to Bonn, was subjected to an identity check conducted by the police. They were the only ones controlled on the train. Since the family members all had German citizenship they perceived the identity check as racial profiling and filed a lawsuit.

1st instance

In its judgment of the 23rd of October 2014, the Administrative Court in Coblenz ruled that the lawsuit was admissible. The verdict states that illegal entry into Germany is impossible if the respecitve train has its starting point and final destination within the federal territory, does neither pass airports nor seaports and does not reach borders of other states. Therefore, such identity checks ought not to be carried out.

An overview of the media coverage can be found in our press review.

2nd instance

Since the Federal Police did not accept this verdict, the appeal hearing took place at the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate on the 17th of July 2015. At this hearing, mainly witnesses of the Federal Police were interviewed. In another trial, held on the 21st of April 2016, the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate ruled in favour of the plaintiff. They argued that identity checks based on the targeted person's skin colour as a selection criterion for the control are repugnant to the principle of equality of the German Basic Law. Since the federal police did not lodge an appeal within a period of three months, the verdict is now final.

Here you can find our press release concerning this precedent-setting judgement as well as the Court's press release. The judgment in its entirety can be found here.

Moreover, BUG has compiled a press review which you can access here.

Here you can read an interesting article on racial profiling in the light of the German constitutional prohibition of discrimination.