Identity check without suspicion in Bochum

The parliamentary party DIE LINKE submitted a minor interpellation to the federal government concerning the conduction of identity checks by the Federal Police in the context of an unauthorized entry. In regard to this, data on identity checks and border controls by the Federal Police were disclosed which can be viewed here.

In November 2013, Ferdinand G.* waited for his girlfriend to arrive by train at the Bochum railway station at 10 pm. Because of the bad weather he had pulled over the hood of his sweater. After a short period of time he was subjected to an identity check by the patrolling federal police officers which were looking for North Africans and Syrians. Since he had already experienced such controls before, and therefore started a conversation regarding the reason of control. It was not until the controlling officer showed his warrant card at the police station, that Mr. G. showed his ID.

He felt discriminated against and brought an action before the Administrative Court of Cologne. He is legally supported by BUG. The first hearing took place on the 23rd of April 2015. In order to further facilitate the gathering of evidence, a second hearing was held in December 2015.

At the hearing, the identity check was partly considered lawful and thus the court's judgment was in favour of the Federal Police. The Administrative Court of Cologne accepted the legal justifications of the defendant, according to which they did not conduct the identity check solely on grounds of the plaintiff's skin colour. According to the Federal Police, the decisive factors for the control were claimed to be the locational knowledge of the Federal Police (German: Lageerkenntnisse; such as drug-related crimes, thefts of luggage and the threat from Salafists at the area of the railway station) as well as the clothing and longer chin beard of the plaintiff. In addition the Federal Police argued that the plaintiff aroused suspicion when he put on his hood.

Only the repeated demand for the plaintiff's identity card at the police station was found unlawful since the reason for his stay at the railway station had already been clarified earlier in an conversation with the his girlfriend.

The first instance's judgment in its entirety can be found here.

Here you can access a press report on the case.

The appeal hearing was held on August 7, 2018. The Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia ruled in favour of the plaintiff, stating that this identity check constituted discrimination. Here you can read our press release regarding the verdict of the 2nd instance.

 *name changed

© Büro zur Umsetzung von Gleichbehandlung e.V. 2011