¿Por qué son malos los prejuicios étnicos en la aplicación de la ley?

BRUSELAS- Hace varios años, mientras el terrorismo, la inmigración y los disturbios en los barrios deprimidos parisinos ocupaban los principales espacios en las noticias francesas, un policía confesaba a un investigador: “Si piensa en los diferentes niveles de tráfico ilegal,  verá claramente que lo cometen negros y árabes. Si está en la calle y ve a un hombre negro o a uno con características árabes, se dirá a sí mismo, “este hombre no parece francés” y tal vez lo detenga para pedirle que le muestre sus papeles”.

Este policía describía un ejemplo clásico del concepto “prejuicios étnicos”: el uso de estereotipos por parte de las autoridades en la aplicación de la ley, en lugar de utilizar información específica sobre la conducta como fundamento para detener, registrar o arrestar personas. En Europa es ilegal recurrir a los prejuicios étnicos. Su uso no ha sido efectivo para detener delincuentes. Es contraproducente en la campaña contra el terrorismo. Sin embargo, las autoridades policíacas por toda Europa siguen utilizando dichos criterios.

La ineficacia del uso de los prejuicios étnicos se puso de relieve a inicios de mayo, cuando el gobierno británico dio a conocer cifras que muestran que, de las más de 117,000 detenciones hechas por la policía entre 2007 y 2008, sólo 72 dieron lugar a arrestos por delitos relacionados con el  terrorismo. Otros de los principales países europeos no recopilan datos sobre las detenciones policiales según los grupos étnicos o religiosos de los detenidos. Sin embargo, la investigación realizada por instancias privadas, así como los informes anecdóticos, ofrecen un panorama alarmantemente similar.

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