Frankfurt Police Response
PLEASE NOTE. THE ORIGINAL RESPONSE WAS SENT IN GERMAN. The below is translated using Google Translate.
Federal Police Department Frankfurt am Main Airport Frankfurt am Main, April 21, 2021
Subject area 14 – Complaints Office
Ref .: SB 14 – 21 02 04_041 / 2021_Greenwood
Dear Christopher Greenwood,
in answer to your complaint, I can provide you with the following information. But first of all please allow me to give you the information that we are requested by official order to answer all complaints in German. I am sorry and kindly ask you for understanding.
My chief, Police Director [name removed], asked me to answer you regarding your complaint.
Dear Mr. Greenwood,
Your message to the Federal Police Headquarters in Potsdam has been forwarded to the Federal Police Directorate at Frankfurt Airport for reasons of responsibility. They complain that there should have been inconsistencies in the follow-up inspection of his hand luggage at the air security check of Mr. Mohanji on March 22, 2021 in Pier A of Frankfurt Airport. In this context you accuse the aviation security assistants and federal police officers involved of harassing and racially motivated behavior towards Mr Mohanji.
I would like to answer your impressions as follows. The following principles must first be observed with regard to the control modalities for identity checks:
The control of passengers and their hand luggage is carried out, among other things, on the basis of EU regulations, in which basic and detailed measures for the implementation of EU uniform standards in aviation security are specified. To this end, the National Aviation Security Program sets out further binding specifications in its annexes for the content-related, methodological and technical implementation of the controls of passengers, hand luggage and checked baggage in accordance with Section 5 of the Aviation Security Act. The Federal Police, as the aviation security authority responsible for defending against attacks on the security of air traffic, is bound by these legal norms and laws and, in this capacity, uses aviation security assistants from private security companies to whom it has entrusted the implementation of the aviation security checks.
When carrying out the aviation security checks, the aviation security assistants adhere to procedures that are standardized by the Federal Ministry of the Interior for all aviation security checks at German airports.
According to this, the aviation security checks should be carried out thoroughly; In this respect, temporal components must not play a role. The aviation security assistants are responsible for ensuring that passengers and their hand luggage are completely checked using technical equipment and, if necessary, manually.
This has happened in the case of Mr Mohanji. A follow-up check of hand luggage is always carried out in the presence of the passenger. For this follow-up check, it is permissible for the passenger to open his baggage himself when requested by the employee and to assist with the search if the employee asks him to do so. After the check has been completed, the passenger puts the items back in his luggage and locks it independently.
Furthermore, a so-called “ETD control” must be carried out to the greatest possible extent. This involves checking for traces of explosives on hand luggage and other objects and, if applicable, on the passenger’s body. If this check is positive, the federal police will be involved in a risk assessment.
Such a control, which was negative, was carried out on Mr. Mohanji. After the procedure was completed, you and Mr. Mohanji had the opportunity to put the checked items back into Mr. Mohanji’s backpack.
The control procedure you complained about does not deviate from the procedure ordered and ultimately serves the safety of passengers in air traffic.
With regard to the water bottle that you are taking with you, I would like to inform you that, in accordance with the above-mentioned EU regulations on the uniform design of aviation security checks, it may not be taken with you, as it apparently contained more than 100 ml. The decision of the aviation security assistant to refuse to take the bottle with you is therefore not objectionable. I also refer you to generally applicable information and advice for air travelers.
Contrary to your assertion that “this agonizing and unnecessary process lasted 45 minutes”, the evaluation of the entire control situation only resulted in a time span of less than ten minutes.
With regard to the harassing and racist behavior of the aviation security assistants and federal police officers that you complained about, I would like to inform you that both the questioning of the employees involved and the video-visual evaluation of this control situation did not show any signs of confirming your allegations.
For the federal police officers called in, the ETD control of Mr Mohanji’s hand luggage was a matter that took place several times a day and was handled by the officers in a routine, calm and careful manner. There were never any racially motivated verbal attacks against Mr. Mohanji.
I therefore expressly contradict your appearance of a racially motivated and harassing control by the employees involved.
Dear Mr. Greenwood, in conclusion, I would like to emphasize once again that the Federal Police Department at Frankfurt am Main Airport is always concerned about the lawfulness and correct behavior of the officers. I hope that the police measures have been presented transparently to you.
With best regards
Humane Airports counter response – 25/04/2021
Sub: Harassment of Mohanji at Frankfurt Airport
Dear Mr. xxxxx,
Thank you for the detailed reply to our message dated 24th March 2021.
We are not here to blame you or your system of screening in your airports. Our aim and effort is to make sure that passengers are treated ethically, humanely and with respect irrespective of their class and the colour of their skin until and unless proven guilty or illegal by any means. This point has not been addressed in your reply at all. What a regular passenger expects in any airport is respectful behaviour.
We would like to point out rank disorders in the whole process which you have mentioned here. We understand from your letter that the entire harassment was in the name of “security”, which gives license to your employees to be rude, harass, and embarrass a passenger to no end and that you would justify them in the name of approved law. This is what we understand in your letter.
We would like to point out a few things:
A. Human Rights (one need not go further than referring to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights valid from 1948 and the European Convention of Human Rights valid since 1953 till date).
B. Ethical (Respectful) Treatment of people, in this case, passengers.
C. Right attitude or behaviour towards passengers.
D. Importance of understanding the background of the passengers before behaving with arrogance, contempt and racial discrimination.
You have mentioned that a thorough check of hand baggage is a norm. I had witnessed that many people in line for security check before or after Mohanji were not subjected to this kind of “thorough checks”. Why was Mohanji singled out? Is it not his skin colour that was bothering your security assistant? Was it not racial discrimination? The way he behaved with Mohanji was totally disrespectful and even contemptuous. I was there, and I saw it with my own eyes.
You have mentioned that this is normal and that this has happened to many people. If it happened to many people, it is outright shameful and shows in bad light your standard of ethics. You have also mentioned that it is well within your law to treat passengers in this way. Did you ever feel that you need to reassess this situation? You never mentioned that they could always first understand the background, position, social relevance or at least who the passenger is in this world. A thorough check need not be done disrespectfully, or is that also outside your law? We are sure EU Law is not made for Neanderthals but civilised human beings.
There are numerous complaints about your airport on the Internet, and if you think this is fine or turn a blind eye, we are determined to take it to any level possible because what has happened to Mohanji twice at your airport, even though you may consider it as “normal” is terribly abnormal for most of the civilised world. We have also taken this up with United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, and we will be sending you a copy of our communications with them too. And until ethical behaviour becomes a norm in your airport, we shall involve all possible bodies to drive this point home as much as we can.
Simple things like Mohanji’s water bottle having a capacity of over 100ml became unbearable to your staff, even when the bottle was empty. Did the security assistant ask at least once why is Mohanji carrying the bottle with him? As mentioned before, Mohanji is on a particular medication that makes him dehydrated very frequently. And even if I were to agree that the bottle had to be confiscated, does the law require the officer to throw it away abruptly? Is it not possible for him to talk to the passenger, explain the constraints politely and then take whatever actions are required? This is yet another example of a lack of ethics and a rigidity that can’t be justified. Is treating passengers without any ethics, without even knowing their health condition, the proper behaviour? And this is a transit passenger, bear in mind.
You did mention that the time taken for the procedure was less than what we have stated. Of course, we did not count the specific time amidst the harassment that Mohanji went through or the entire experience from the beginning of the security check process till the end. We might be wrong. But considering how unpleasant this was, it surely did feel like an eternity, especially after a 9-hour overnight flight.
You justified your employee by saying he did the procedure in a “calm and careful” manner. Absolutely not. This is definitely not how Mohanji would have experienced it and not how I witnessed it. The security assistant was utterly rude while literally throwing the pictures of his wife, family and his reverential teacher into the tray. We do not call this “calm and careful”. We call it contemptuous and arrogant.
You have justified everything and conveniently hid it behind the cover of law. Even if the security assistant did not verbalise racially discriminative words, his body language and manner in which he was handling Mohanji was clearly discriminative, rude and unbefitting of any professional. But if ethical treatment of passengers, with basics of politeness, humane treatment and professionalism is not part of your law, it must be hereon. If the treatment is not ethical, it is not valid and cannot be justified. In a civilized world, treatment should be civilized as well. This incident has shown that suitable training and supervision of security staff at your airport, one that would include basic respect towards the passengers during security check, is not only needed but a must.
This is our point of view, and we remain committed to the cause of humane airports and humane treatment of all passengers until it becomes our experiential reality.
Mr. Christopher Greenwood