“Bunch of monkeys” case

Concerning K. A., a Danish citizen of Pakistani origin, (represented by legal counsel) vs Denmark for violation of article 14 of CERD.

On 16 June 1998 family members and friends had come to meet pupils after the exams at the Avedore Gymnasium, Hvidovre, as is the usual practice in Danish high schools. The author and his brother were waiting outside an examination room where a friend of theirs was taking an exam. While they were waiting, a teacher, Mr. K.P., asked them to leave. Since they refused the teacher informed the headmaster, Mr. O.T., who immediately called the police. Mr. O.T. publicly referred to the author and his brother as “a bunch of monkeys”.

The same day the author received a letter in which Mr. O.T. informed him that he did not want him to be present at the official celebration in which he was going to receive his diploma. Counsel requested an explanation and an apology for his client. Mr. O.T. replied that the author and his brother had been noisy outside the examination rooms but he did not deny having used the racist expression referred to above. Counsel thus filed a complaint to the police.

In the opinion of the police, the expression referred to above should not be understood as insulting or degrading in terms of race, colour, national or ethnic origin, since they could also be used towards persons of Danish origin who behaved as the author had. The State Attorney also upheld the decision of the police. Thus a complaint was sent to CERD.

The Committee considers that, the facts as presented constitute a violation of article 6 of the Convention. The Committee recommends to the State party to ensure that the police and the public prosecutors properly investigate accusations and complaints related to acts of racial discrimination which should be punishable by law.

24. March 2020

CERD 16/1999
  • Decision: 8. May 2000
  • Comm: Race