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Minister slams ID checks based on skin colour

22 Feb 2013, 17:14

Published: 22 Feb 2013 17:14 GMT+01:00

"If it's true that people with dark skin are being stopped for ID checks, that's totally unacceptable," Ullenhag told the TT news agency.

"ID checks based on a foreign appearance actually violate the rules that are currently in place."

Ullenhag's comments on Friday come following extensive media coverage detailing reports of police officers demanding that "foreign looking" commuters in the Stockholm metro system produce identification documents.

Police have defended their actions, explaining they only stop people who are suspected of committing a crime – such as trying to enter the metro without paying – and that the measures are tied to a wider effort to track down and deport immigrants who remain in the country illegally.

But Ullenhag was sceptical of officers' explanation, demanding instead that police "get to the bottom" of the situation.

"It's very troubling if people with dark skin colour or foreign appearances believe they may be stopped and subjected to an ID check," the minister said.

"This isn't the sort of situation we should have in the Stockholm metro system.

"People shouldn't be stopped by police on the basis of their appearance or skin colour."

Ullenhag explained further that Sweden strives to have an asylum policy marked by "solidarity and compassion" and anyone granted a residence permit should be allowed to stay in Sweden.

"But if someone isn't granted residency, that person doesn't have the right to stay," he said.

He argued there were "other methods" available to police for carrying out deportation orders that aren't based on the colour of a person's skin.

Peter Nilsson of the Stockholm border police also said it was wrong of officers to employ a strategy that involved targeting people who hadn't paid their public transit fares, but admitted that border police, which are always uniformed, do patrol the metro system.

However, he bristled at Ullenhag's comments, saying the minister should have "more concrete" evidence.

"There is too much in the media that is totally made up," said Nilsson.

According to Sören Clerton, head of the central border control unit with Sweden's National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen, NBI), police must have "a well-founded reason", such as intelligence information, before performing internal border controls.

Story continues below…

"We've understood that within the group of people who travel without paying a fare there are also people who don't have a permit to be here," he told TT.

Maria Ferm, migration policy spokeswoman for the Green Party, called the police's methods "discriminatory" and rejected claims by police that stories of people being forced to produce IDs because of their skin colour had been fabricated.

She plans to introduce a bill in parliament that would prohibit allowing police to perform checks on "foreign looking" people at the metro turnstiles.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

19:09 February 22, 2013 by djmarko
well if you commit crime by not having a metro card, the police are entitled to check your identity regardless of skin colour, if they start targeting people for stop checks based on skin colour, that is totally wrong, i heard this has been happening for the past 2 weeks in central stockholm, if you are looking for illegal immigrants, well you can try looking for them at the address they gave when they arrived in Sweden
20:22 February 22, 2013 by skatty
I think the interesting (and ridicules) part about this kind of discriminatory and racism process is that it is actually possible to implement it in Sweden.

It would be extremely hard to implement such kind of check points in countries like Italy, France, and Spain, even UK, where many of native people have black hair, black eyes and some like Italian brown skin; but, in north part of Europe; you can somehow distinguish between insiders and outsiders!

It makes Swedes to be very much aware about their own race 24 hours a day, even in their sleeps!

It was not an accident that Nazism had particular interest in Scandinavians in WWII.
20:48 February 22, 2013 by johan rebel
If the police want to ferret out illegal immigrants (and I sure hope they do), then it makes perfect sense to check the most likely suspects, i.e. not those with blue eyes and blond hair.
22:39 February 22, 2013 by AfroSwede
What I find offensive as a Black male is being told that the actions of Swedish police towards the immigrants is not racial offensive and an attempt to suppress minorities. How many ethnic Swedes are crossing the tunnelbana without the metro card? . It shameful that there is still open racism in this country in 2013.
23:07 February 22, 2013 by Children Of Adam
Thank God! I am an immigrant but I do not look like "immigrants " who Swedish police is looking for. Mama Mia ;)
23:55 February 22, 2013 by riose
@johan rebel

That is discrimination.

The police might want whatever, they have to follow rules too. They are not above the law.

@Children Of Adam

First they came for the socialists,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me,

and there was no one left to speak for me.
00:04 February 23, 2013 by HörbDörpmeister
Seems like a perfectly reasonable policy. If you don't like it, move somewhere else.
00:25 February 23, 2013 by Gemini1
No one is moving anywhere else Mr SD. We will just stay and watch this comedy show play out itself and we all know how such things usually end!!!
01:16 February 23, 2013 by Kronaboy
Unfortunately it will probably end the same way as SUS in the 1980s
08:04 February 23, 2013 by chemo007
strange and stupid.........it happened with me at central station but i thought police is just doin it's duty but duty on racial basis is not good.......

proud to be black and tax payer in Sweden but this society never gonna accept me as I dont look like Swedes.,..........:P
09:04 February 23, 2013 by truthcode
should put more regulations on immigration office,not with police in the streets acting like Nazis

Sweden was allied with the Nazis in 1943 this is just a reflection

Volvo and Saab were doing tanks and aircraft engines for the Nazis
09:35 February 23, 2013 by vicky7
Good start. Hopefully the police will be checking ID of eu migrants. Schengen is bad for Sweden.
10:35 February 23, 2013 by allnotmoney
swedes will not have Kebab without immigrant
11:33 February 23, 2013 by dizzy09
strange, feels like REVA has been going on for me for more than 5 years now...the police always seems to stop me with all kinds of excuses i.e old lady getting robbed by a black guy, just routine I.D. checks etc
13:24 February 23, 2013 by prince T
Sweden is a country of law and order. It is not nazi germany. Where police go around attacking jews.

It is easier for us not to see any problem in this because it does not affect us. the unlearned people on dis forum failed to realise that times do change. I wonder what we will say if it was jew, gay or a woman. For balcks it is ok to molest them on the road. MARK MY WORDS NO CONDITION IS PERMANENT. especially in a lazy country like sweden where ver soon immigrants will take over the jobs.
15:00 February 23, 2013 by pacian02
According to Sören Clerton, head of the central border control ...."We've understood that within the group of people who travel without paying a fare there are also people who don't have a permit to be here," he told TT.

Border Control Police have no jurisdiction to detain a person regarding whether or not they have a fare card or not. I am curious as to what type of enforcement powers they posses in matters such as detaining people without fare-cards, perhaps drug trafficking is less important than detaining potential illegals who may not have fare-cards.

It is shocking the head of Border Control believes this is more crucial than stopping drugs and illegals gun.
16:21 February 23, 2013 by AquamanUK
As a person of distant Scandinavian Ancestry (arrived in England in 800 and 1066).

I have Dark hair and Brown Eyes and was on my first Biz Trip to Sweden when I was 30 years old. I could tell who was Not only Swedish but who was from Stockholm, Malmo, and Gothenburg as well as differentiate between Swedish, Norwegians, Danes and Finnish.

Even though my ancestry is over a millennium up my family tree - I was still spoken to in Every shop and every 7-11 as if I were a Native Swede - In Swedish!

So If I can tell who is from where, I had never been there before (but return numerous times a year now). If a Person walks like a duck, quacks like a duck... It is a Duck!

So stop and searches of people who are obviously Not Swedish, nor Scandinavian, etc... Is perfectly legitimate in my opinion as I can spot the foreigner in the Nordic Countries!

Carrying ID is a requirement and anyone who looks like they might be 'quacking' - should be questioned.

Or a simple way to tell without even asking for ID, Speak to the person in ENGLISH. 100% of Illegal immigrants will Not speak English - they speak say Arabic and Swedish because the state pays for Swedish Courses -but to learn English when it is not required or necessary in their daily life... They will Not speak English.

Called a 'Social Nudge' - the modern way for govt's, police, businesses to discriminate is to Speak to person in English. (or advertise a job that requires English proficiency). Learn to be more adept and the police, border etc will not find themselves in such 'petty' news babble.

Swedish speak perfect English!
19:16 February 23, 2013 by Enjoyourlife
I do not think illigals commit crimes often. They often live in fear and won't want to do anything that involves the police. It is good to check everybody and then select the ones they are looking for. Besides, how many are there in sweden? The illigal immigrant population in the US is more than the population of sweden and denmark. They do not have access to education, health etc without personal number. So how are they wasting tax money.
22:52 February 23, 2013 by theobserver
Let the Swedes express themselves. Once, they say, openly, "we don't like brown-colored people", and you say this should not happen? Come one, Swedes, DO think this way, they are racist, in any case. The only thing that makes this country appear to be politically correct is because the average Swede would rather commit suicide than voice out his/her opinion.

So, I'd say, let them speak. It will make them healthier (psychologically) and, eventually, this may ease up the tension they feel. Poor Swedes.
02:46 February 25, 2013 by nathan45
Most immigrants legal or illeagle are usually of Middle Eastern or African decent. To keep the country from getting over run with illeagles it just makes sense to ask people of that discription for their I.D's. If you did not do this how would it be possible to kick them out.
13:47 February 25, 2013 by Kronaboy
@nathan45

As I understood from the statistics most immigrants (legal or illegal) are from Finland followed closely by Poland, so are hardly like to be of Middle Eastern Appearance.

@Enjoyourlife

Agreed, most newbies who have just fallen of the back of an Albanian Truck are so afraid of being kicked out that they are little more than a bunch of Uncle Toms who simply make it even harder for us 2nd and 3rd generation migrants; for example on one occasion when my father called the police to report a Burglary he was asked to produce his passport before the police would even listen to his complaint. However, don't think for a minuet it's going to be so easy in 20 to 30 years when you have to deal with 2nd and 3rd generation migrants; one way or another we will have equality.
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