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Privacy Surgeon lodges complaint against four police forces over border violations

1725393_429468097185565_262770321_nBy Simon Davies

The Privacy Surgeon has lodged a detailed complaint with the European Commission against four national police authorities, setting out allegations of serious border control violations.

The complaint requests that an investigation be initiated with a view to considering possible infringement proceedings against the respective member states

The complaint alleges that police in Switzerland, Germany, France and Italy have re-introduced border checks by stealth at some rail crossings into their respective countries.

This action fundamentally breaches a number of Directives and Codes (including the Schengen Agreement) that are intended to create freedom of movement in a borderless Europe. Instead, police at many rail border crossings have come to view trains as “low hanging fruit” that can be routinely boarded and checked without regard to the legal and procedural safeguards that have been established.

The complaint notes that between seventy and eighty percent of border crossings on some rail routes are subjected to extensive document checking. These routes include Geneva to Milan, Copenhagen to Hamburg and Amsterdam to Koln.

The incidence of checking at border points on these and other rail routes is many times greater than air and road passengers can expect to experience. The complaint warns that that in addition to a resulting systematic violation of law, this stark variance indicates a serious discrimination against rail passengers that violates the Schengen Borders Code’s requirement to ensure respect for dignity.

The background to some of these issues is set out in a previous article in the Privacy Surgeon.

The complaint, lodged with DG Home Affairs, requests that an investigation be initiated with a view to considering possible infringement proceedings against the respective member states. There have been several such infringement actions taken in recent years with respect to activities of police at internal borders.