German Ambassador to Namibia Christian Matthias Schlaga says he will look into reports that the Inspector General of the Namibian police and Interpol’s vice-president for Africa, Lieutenant-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, was manhandled by German immigration officials, along with six other Namibians at Frankfurt airport on Sunday.
All black passengers were called aside for thorough inspection and questioning upon disembarking from an Air Namibia flight, while white passengers were not subjected to the same treatment, the Namibian police chief said on Sunday.
When contacted for comment on Monday, Schlaga said he only learned of the fracas from New Era’s report.
“We have not been approached by any official authority here in Namibia over what you reported. What I know is only what I read in your report, so I cannot respond to anything at this stage,” Schlaga said. “I will take this matter up with the German authorities, as from tomorrow, because today (Monday) is a public holiday [in Germany]. I will do so tomorrow to find out what really happened on the basis of what you have reported,” he said.
Ndeitunga said at the time he was being subjected to aggressive questioning by German border control officers, he was on his way to Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France where the global crime prevention body is preparing for its elective general assembly slated for November.
Ndeitunga is a candidate for the Interpol presidency post and said he was “humiliated” by the border control officers, despite being a diplomatic passport holder.
German officials are not new to be being accused of racial profiling, as they in 2010 also detained former Cabinet minister Kazenambo Kazenambo claiming his passport was fake.
But Schlaga maintains this is not a usual occurrence and that the Kazenambo saga occurred over five years ago and cannot be used to substantiate claims of racial profiling.
“Apart from the case I read in your paper and that one from long time ago I have never before heard of any other [such] reports,” he noted.
Germany’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW), though carried a news item in 2013 entitled: ‘Are the German police using racial profiling?’
According to the report, activists claim police officers often single out dark-skinned people out of a white crowd for so-called stop and search checks.
The allegation was denied by the German federal police, who at the time maintained that everyone could be checked.
According to DW, although racial profiling is explicitly prohibited, there are allegations that racial profiling often occurs on trains or at airports, where the German federal police is, according to Article 22 of the Federal Police Law, allowed to check individuals to “prevent and eliminate unlawful entry.”
Quoted in the DW report, Hendrik Cemer from the German Institute for Human Rights said police officers are supposed to act based initially on a visual inspection, so what ends up happening is that they are making judgments based on an individual’s hair colour, eye colour and skin colour.
However, according to the German police at the time, random questioning and checks are conducted based on border police knowledge, which includes significantly more than only a person’s ethnicity. Other factors that determine whether someone is stopped and searched include intelligence on traffic routes, possible locations, time periods, age group, gender and suspicious behaviour, as well as clothing, luggage and other physical traits.