chapter  8
15 Pages

Blanket police surveillance of Muslims

A chilling precedent 1
WithSaul J. Takahashi

The leaked papers show that, from at least 2004, the Japanese police had been engaged in systematic and indiscriminate religious ethno-profiling, with every Muslim residing in Japan considered to be a potential terrorist risk and put under extensive, highly intrusive surveillance. The information contained in the documents led to a court case, in which the plaintiffs argued, inter alia, that the surveillance violated their right to religious freedom. Besides monitoring the entire Muslim community, several documents show that there was also heightened surveillance of particular ‘high risk’ individuals or groups. The Japanese delegation faced particularly tough questioning by members of Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, including being asked ‘what was being done to end the blanket surveillance of Muslims’ and ‘whether an apology would be issued to those concerned’. From the outset, the court immediately put the cart before the horse, stating that the blanket surveillance of Muslims was ‘a necessary measure to prevent international terrorism’.