AUTHORITIES' targeting of people because of their racial background or religious affiliation is a deep-rooted problem in the United States, with nearly 32 million people reporting that they have been racially profiled, Amnesty International USA said yesterday.
The human rights group's report also said that at least 87 million people in the US - one in three - are at high risk of being victimised because they belong to a racial, ethnic or religious group whose members are commonly targeted by police for unlawful stops and searches.
Racial profiling is a growing problem as the government has expanded its war on terror, the report said.
Police, immigration and airport security procedures are the areas where the problem has grown worse since the September 11 2001 attacks, it said.
Citizens and visitors who are or appear to be of Middle Eastern and south Asian descent and Muslims and Sikhs have become more frequent subjects of racial profiling.
As police primarily focus on Arab, Muslim and south Asian males, they are more likely to overlook terrorists who are white.
Aside from the ill-effects on victims, racial profiling reinforces residential segregation, creates fear and mistrust and engenders reluctance in reporting crimes and co-operating with police officers, Amnesty argued.
The report notes that 27 states do not ban racial profiling, 46 states do not ban religious profiling, 35 continue to allow pedestrian "stop and frisk" searches and only six of the 15 that ban these searches use a definition of racial profiling that can actually be enforced, the report said.
Amnesty International USA came up with its estimate of nearly 32 million profiling victims by analysing a collection of recent polls, census figures and studies and hearing from scores of victims.
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