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  1. ITV Report

Man stopped four times at ferry ‘because he was black’

Jules Gnezekora said he was stopped four times while travelling on the ferry to and from Scotland. Credit: UTV

A man from Co Down who was travelling from Belfast to Scotland by ferry has accused immigration officers of racial profiling after he was stopped four times and asked to produce identification documents.

Jules Gnezekora says the journey he took to see his friends in Glasgow last month left him feeling humiliated.

He was stopped by immigration officers each time he got on and off the ferry in Belfast and Cairnryan - four times he was pulled aside by officials who asked him for identification.

“They didn’t tell me why they wanted to see my documents,and I presented them with this document and they still wanted to know how long I’d been living in Northern Ireland, how long I was going to Glasgow for, and while this was carrying on, which lasted approximately two minutes, they passing passengers were looking on which added to the embarrassment.”

“I was the only one being singled out. Most of the people before me and immediately after me were all white. So I've no reason to believe this wasn't racial profiling.”

– Jules Gnezekora

Mr Gnezekora claims he was the only passenger singled out each time and he believes this was because of the colour of his skin.

“We were all passengers, but my distinctive feature was my race and everyone else was white, they were not stopped, so the only conclusion I can draw from that is, I was singled out because of my race.

“Why did I have to go through this embarrassment? What were they suspecting me of?”

Mr Gnezekora was born in the Ivory Coast, has lived in the UK for nearly 25 years and holds a British passport.

Now based in Co Down and working as a lawyer he says he felt particularly frustrated at being asked for a passport in the Common Travel Area.

Mr Gnezekora has been left with many questions about his treatment by immigration officials. Credit: UTV

According to a human rights NGO, Mr Gnezekora’s case isn't a one off and his experience raises questions about the nature of immigration checks after Brexit.

Brian Gormally from the Committee on the Administration of Justice commented: “What we have at the minute is within the Common Travel Area, [and] what appears to us an open and shut case of racial profiling by Border Force officers in Scotland and in Belfast. What we need is a change in the reality and then a proper human rights compliant immigration enforcement policy put in place.

“That at the moment is clearly not happening. It does throw into doubt all the government assurances about the border, about the nature of immigration enforcement and the role of Border Force officers.”

When asked about Mr Gnezekora's case a Home Office spokesperson said: "Immigration Enforcement does not discriminate against any individual. Part of our work focuses on domestic travel routes where intelligence has shown they can be used by immigration offenders.

"Immigration Officers speak to members of the travelling public using these routes, regardless of appearance, and a consensual request for photographic ID can form part of that conversation."

Mr Gnezekora has been left with many questions about his treatment by immigration officials in both Belfast and Scotland.

He has referred his case to the Equality Commission in a bid to get answers.