Different Generations Confront the Same Discrimination in Spain

Twenty-five years ago, Rosalind Williams was stopped for being black. At a recent event in Madrid, young activists shared similar stories from today.

Stopped for being black

The Office of the Ombudsman of Spain on 23 November 2017 hosted the event "Stop stopping me. Different generations, same violation of rights", organised by SOS Racisme Catalunya, SOS Racismo Madrid and Liberties member Rights International Spain.

The event was held 25 years after Rosalind Williams was stopped by a police officer because - as admitted by the officer himself - she was black. This police stop marked the beginning of a long legal process, which, after the Spanish authorities dismissed her demands, culminated in a 2009 United Nations Human Rights Committee decree holding that such conduct constituted a violation of her right to non-discrimination.

Young activists share their insight

As well as commemorating this anniversary and paying homage to this defender of fundamental rights, the event also gave young activists who still suffer the same police controls and ethnic profiling the opportunity to analyse the progress that has taken place over the years and the gaps that still need to be addressed in this matter. The following activists participated in the round table:

  • Yousef Ouled, a journalist and activist with SOS Racismo Madrid who is involved in the "Es Racismo" project.
  • Noemí Fernández, from the Federación de Asociaciones de Gitanos de Catalunya (Federation of Roma Associations of Catalonia).
  • Diana Paredes, from the Colectivo Latinoamericanxs
  • Malick Gueye, from Sindicato de Manteros (Street-sellers Union)
  • Shan Muhammad, plaintiff in a case currently pending in the European Court of Human Rights on racist police identification.

The event, which was moderated by the journalist and blogger Desirée Bela-Lobedde, was brought to a close with the words of Slim Ben Achour, a lawyer who participated in the strategic litigation against the use of ethnic profiles by French police. That case culminated in a ruling by the French Court of Cassation that condemned the state for discrimination against the plaintiffs.