Lonely Planet Under Fire After Accusing Swiss Police of Racial Profiling

Jun 23, 2018

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Racial profiling is a serious claim, so it came as a surprise when popular travel guide book publisher Lonely Planet accused police in Switzerland of doing so. Naturally, Switzerland’s tourism team is not too happy about it.

The Lonely Planet warned its readers about racial profiling in Switzerland on both its website and in the guide book, pointing out under the “Dangers and Annoyances” that “Swiss police aren’t very visible but have a reputation for performing random street searches of questionable necessity on people of non-European background or appearance.” The statement was based on testimony that Lonely Planet received from tourists and travel writers, according to destination editor Daniel Fahey.

Vice’s German site drew attention to the issue in an article that put the magnitude of the accusations into perspective.

Now, the statement is being addressed by Switzerland Tourism, which hasn’t been doing well in recent years, despite being known as one of the happiest countries in the world. In a statement for Bloomberg, Switzerland Tourism’s spokesman called the accusation “defamatory” and the Conference of Cantonal Police Commandants in Switzerland said that it “lack[s] concrete evidence.”

However, a statement from the spokesman of Amnesty International Switzerland echoes the sentiments of Lonely Planet, saying “racial profiling by security personnel — especially in trains and at border crossings — is a problem in Switzerland,” without forgetting to include that “it’s also a global issue, not one inherently linked to the Swiss police.”

From now until September, Lonely Planet will have writers in Switzerland to determine whether they still feel that racial profiling exists in the country. Until then, Lonely Planet continues to stand by its original statement and is protecting its sources. “Our writers are tasked with telling it like it is, without fear or favor,” said Fahey.

H/T: Bloomberg

Featured image by Florin Baumann/Getty Images.

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