Committee on Elimination of Racial Dsicrimination concludes seventy-ninth session

Committee on the Elimination
of Racial Discrimination

2 September 2011
ROUNDUP

Issues Concluding Observations on Reports of Paraguay, the Maldives, Kenya, Georgia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Albania, the United Kingdom and Malta

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its four-week seventy-ninth session and released its concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of Paraguay, the Maldives, Kenya, Georgia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Albania, the United Kingdom and Malta, which were considered at this session.

Concerning the first through third periodic reports of Paraguay, the Committee took note of Paraguay’s engagement during the Universal Periodic Review process of the Human Rights Council and its commitment to implement all the recommendations that the country had accepted during the review. The Committee took note of efforts taken by Paraguay to abolish bondage in the state of Chaco, but it was occupied about the socio-economic situation of indigenous communities in this region and was concerned by the persistence of bondage to pay off debts and the violations of the human rights of members of the indigenous communities in this region. The Committee recommended that Paraguay take urgent measures to guarantee the full exercise of human rights by the indigenous communities in Chaco.

In regard to the combined fifth through twelfth periodic reports of the Maldives, the Committee welcomed positive developments which had taken place in the Maldives, including the 2008 Constitution explicitly prohibiting racial discrimination in its article 17 (a) and the 2008 Employment Act prohibiting discrimination amongst persons carrying out equal work. The Committee noted with concern the provision of the Human Rights Commission Act that only Muslims could be members of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives. It recommended that the State party take steps to ensure that the Human Rights Commission represented all groups of the country and was fully compliant with the Paris Principles.

After reviewing the combined first through fourth periodic reports of Kenya, the Committee welcomed the adoption of the new Constitution in 2010 containing a broad catalogue of human rights which lay the foundation for the promotion of an inclusive multi-ethnic Kenyan society, addressing inequalities and eliminating discrimination. While noting that racial discrimination was outlawed in the State party and that the Convention formed part of its law, the Committee regretted the absence of information on sanctions for acts of racial discrimination and wished to receive information on sanctions applied for acts of racial discrimination. Moreover, the Committee recommended that, in addition to legislation outlawing racial discrimination in general, the State party should also address racial discrimination in policies on employment and housing, as well as other relevant areas.

Concerning the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of Georgia, the Committee welcomed the State party’s ongoing efforts to revise its legislation in order to ensure greater protection of human rights and give effect to the Convention. The Committee also noted with interest the importance given to culture and the support given to cultural activities of ethnic minorities and encouraged the State party to continue along this path. Although a number of draft laws had been put forward for public discussion, the Committee reiterated its concern that the State party had not yet adopted the draft legislation to protect minorities. It encouraged the State party to speed up the adoption of specific legislation to protect minorities.

After reviewing the combined nineteenth through twenty-first periodic reports of Ukraine, the Committee noted with interest the State party’s resolve during the period under review to strengthen the legal framework and remedy duplication and lack of clarity among various institutions and programmes aimed at the integration and protection of ethnic groups. The Committee noted with concern that, despite its recommendation of 2006 that the State party adopt a new framework anti-discrimination legislation, the draft Anti-Discrimination Act was elaborated only in 2011 and its further development and adoption was contingent on the elaboration and approval of the new Inter-Departmental Strategy against Discrimination and Intolerance mandated by the President of Ukraine in May 2011. The Committee urged the State party to accelerate the adoption of a comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Act.

In regard to the eighth and ninth periodic reports of the Czech Republic, the Committee welcomed legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party during the period under review, including: the enactment in 2009 of Act No. 198/2009 on equal treatment and on legal means of protection against discrimination (the Anti-Discrimination Act); and the amendment of paragraph 133 a in 2009 of the Rules of Civil Procedure reversing the burden of proof in cases of racial discrimination. While welcoming the enactment of an Anti-Discrimination Act of 2009, the Committee was concerned that legal provisions against discrimination were scattered across the principal acts of public law (the Constitution), private law (the Civil Code, the Labour Code) and administrative law (the Code of Administrative Offences, the Anti-Discrimination Act), and the procedural codes thereto (the Code of Civil Procedure, the Code of Administrative Procedure, etc.). It recommended that the State party consider the possibility of unifying and consolidating the prohibited grounds of discrimination and standardizing remedies for racial discrimination in order to facilitate access to justice for victims of racial discrimination.

Concerning the fifth through eighth reports of Albania, the Committee noted with interest the following legislative and other measures taken by the State party: the preparations undertaken for the Census of Population and Housing, which was expected to be carried out later in 2011; and the law 10221 on the protection against discrimination, of 4 February 2010, under which the Office of the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination was established. The Committee reiterated its concern about the distinction in domestic law between national minorities (Greek, Macedonian and Serbian-Montenegrin minorities) and linguistic minorities (Roma and Aromanians). The Committee reiterated its recommendation that the State party reconsider the criteria on the basis of which the distinction between national minorities and linguistic minorities was based, in consultation with the groups concerned, and that it ensure that there was no discrimination in terms of protection or enjoyment of rights or benefits, either across groups or across territory.

After reviewing the combined eighteenth through twentieth periodic reports of the United Kingdom, the Committee welcomed the notable efforts made by the State party to tackle racial discrimination and inequality and acknowledged that it had made important progress in this regard. It also welcomed the enactment of the Equality Act of 2010 as a landmark improvement in anti-discrimination legislation. The Committee deeply regretted the State party’s insistence to proceed immediately with the eviction of the Gypsy and Traveller community at Dale Farm in Essex before identifying and providing alternative culturally appropriate housing for members of these communities. The Committee urged the State party to halt the intended eviction which would disproportionately affect the lives of families and particularly women and children and create hardship. It strongly recommended that the State party should provide alternative culturally appropriate accommodation to these communities before any evictions were carried out.

After reviewing the combined fifteenth through twentieth periodic reports of Malta, the Committee welcomed the efforts made by the State party to address the continuing flows of irregular immigrants into its territory due to the upheavals in the region notwithstanding its limited financial and human resources. The Committee was concerned about discriminatory discourse and hate speech by some politicians in the State party. It was also concerned about the phenomenon of dissemination of racism and racial discourse in the media, including through the Internet. The Committee recommended that the State party take appropriate means to counter and strongly condemn racism and hate speech by politicians, as well as manifestations of racism in the media, including through the Internet, in particular by effectively prosecuting those responsible whatever their status.

During the course of the session, the Committee also examined individual communications of violations of the Convention and considered follow-up information submitted by States parties in relation to the observations and recommendations of the Committee, in closed meetings.

The eightieth session of the Committee will be held from 13 February to 9 March, during which it will consider the reports of Canada, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mexico, Portugal, Qatar, Senegal, Turkmenistan and Viet Nam.

Concluding Observations and Recommendations

Paraguay

Concerning the first through third periodic reports of Paraguay, the Committee took note of Paraguay’s engagement during the Universal Periodic Review process of the Human Rights Council and its commitment to implement all the recommendations that the country had accepted during the review. The Committee welcomed that the budget of the Paraguayan Indigenous Institute for buying land had been increased in 2011 from $ 4 to 22 million. It also welcomed with satisfaction the firm commitment taken by the delegation of Paraguay to respect sentences from international judicial bodies relating to indigenous peoples. The Committee noted that Paraguayan legislation did not contain a definition of racial discrimination and did not criminalize racial discrimination as set out in article 4 of the Convention. It encouraged Paraguay to accelerate the adoption of necessary legislative instruments to prevent racism and discriminatory attitudes, like the draft law against all forms of discrimination, which contained a definition of racial discrimination compatible with the first article of the Convention and which criminalized properly various manifestations of racial discrimination.

The Committee was concerned by the weak representation of members of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities and other vulnerable groups in decision-making positions in mechanisms concerning social participation and in education. It recommended that Paraguay take necessary measures, including legislative measures and others relating to the State’s budget, to guarantee the equality of rights of indigenous peoples. It also recommended that Paraguay take the necessary measures to ensure the registration of all children in Paraguay, in particular in regions where indigenous peoples live, and to guarantee the necessary services to ensure their intellectual and physical development.

The Committee noted with interest information provided by the delegation of Paraguay that 45 per cent of indigenous communities, which did not yet benefit from a definitive legal insurance relating to land, would benefit from it from now to 2020, but was concerned about the absence in Paraguay of an effective regime to recognize rights and to restitute lands, which impeded the access of the indigenous communities to their ancestral lands. The Committee was also concerned by the State’s lack of inquests and follow-up concerning threats and violations suffered by certain indigenous and Afro-descendant communities and their expulsion from their lands. The Committee took note of efforts taken by Paraguay to abolish bondage in the state of Chaco, but it was occupied about the socio-economic situation of indigenous communities in this region and was concerned by the persistence of bondage to pay off debts and the violations of the human rights of members of the indigenous communities in this region. It recommended that Paraguay take urgent measures to guarantee the full exercise of human rights by the indigenous communities in Chaco. The Committee also recommended that Paraguay urgently take necessary measures to implement in full all decisions taken by the Inter-American Court for Human Rights in favour of the Yakye Axa, Sawhoyamaxa and Xamok Kasek indigenous communities.

The Maldives

In regard to the combined fifth through twelfth periodic reports of the Maldives, the Committee welcomed positive developments which had taken place in the Maldives, including the 2008 Constitution explicitly prohibiting racial discrimination in its article 17 (a); the 2008 Employment Act prohibiting discrimination amongst persons carrying out equal work; the 2009 Expatriate Employment Regulation protecting the rights of migrant workers; and its collaboration with five special procedures mandate-holders who visited the country between 2006 and 2011. The Committee also welcomed the ratification of a number of international human rights instruments since 1999, including: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 in 2006; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 in 2006; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984 in 2004; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2006 in 2010; and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance of 2006 in 2007.

While welcoming the information provided by the State party that an Anti-Discrimination Act was earmarked for 2012, the Committee was concerned about the absence of comprehensive legislation to prevent and prohibit racial discrimination. The Committee recommended that the State party enact the planned Anti-Discrimination Act as soon as possible in accordance with articles 1 and 4 of the Convention. The Committee noted with concern the provision of the Human Rights Commission Act that only Muslims could be members of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives. The Committee recommended that the State party take steps to ensure that the Human Rights Commission represented all groups of the country and was fully compliant with the Paris Principles. The Committee was particularly concerned about discriminatory provisions in the Constitution that all Maldivians should be Muslims, thus excluding non-Muslims from obtaining citizenship or from accessing public positions, and mainly affecting people of a different national or ethnic origin. The Committee requested the State party to consider the possibility of modifying the discriminatory constitutional provisions in line with the Convention.

The Committee noted with concern that the Maldives was a possible destination country for migrant workers trafficked into labour market and for women trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. It recommended that the State party strengthen its ongoing efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking, and encouraged it to enact as soon as possible the Anti-Trafficking Bill under preparation and include information on any progress made in this area in the next periodic report. The Committee also recommended that the State party consider ratifying the 2000 Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes. The Committee recommended that the State party continue its dialogue with its Human Rights Commission and engage with civil society organizations working in the area of human rights protection, in particular in combating racial discrimination, in connection with the preparation of the next periodic report.

Kenya

After reviewing the combined first through fourth periodic reports of Kenya, the Committee welcomed the adoption of the new Constitution in 2010 containing a broad catalogue of human rights which lay the foundation for the promotion of an inclusive multi-ethnic Kenyan society, addressing inequalities and eliminating discrimination. The Committee also noted with interest the constitutional provisions aimed at instituting good governance in the State party and the legislative process undertaken by the State party to implement the 2010 Constitution and to bring its legislation into conformity with international standards. The Committee welcomed the institutional and other measures taken by the State party to promote national reconciliation and unity subsequent to the violence following the 2007 elections, to establish historical record of what happened, to prosecute perpetrators, and to provide redress to victims. It noted in particular the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry on Post-Election Violence and of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. The Committee welcomed the efforts undertaken by the State party to overhaul and reform its judicial system.

While noting that racial discrimination was outlawed in the State party and that the Convention formed part of its law, the Committee regretted the absence of information on sanctions for acts of racial discrimination. The Committee wished to receive information on sanctions applied for acts of racial discrimination. Moreover, the Committee recommended that, in addition to legislation outlawing racial discrimination in general, the State party also address racial discrimination in policies on employment and housing, as well as other relevant areas. The Committee welcomed the opportunity to improve access to justice provided by the new Constitution. The Committee was nonetheless concerned that the limited awareness of rights by the population, and particularly the right not to be discriminated against, as well as the limited accessibility of judicial remedies, would continue to prevent victims from seeking justice and reparation through courts. The Committee recommended that the State party sensitize the population, through mass education, about the legal prohibition of racial discrimination and about their right to equality and non-discrimination, as provided by the Constitution and other pieces of legislation; and ensure the provision of free legal aid throughout the country, including by rolling out the National Legal Aid Scheme.

While noting that the National Cohesion and Integration Act of 2008 and the Penal Code prohibited hate speech and incitement to hatred, the Committee was concerned that the State party’s legislation was narrow and did not cover all punishable offences prescribed by article 4 of the Convention and that relevant provisions condemned hate speech on only a limited number of grounds. The Committee recommended that the State party undertake the necessary legislative amendments in order to widen the scope of the existing legislation so as to give full effect to article 4 of the Convention. The Committee noted with concern that politicians in the State party continued to use incitement to ethnic hatred in statements and speeches. It urged the State party to adopt a firm stand against the use of ethnic lines for political purposes, to strictly enforce the legislation on hate speech and incitement to hatred, and to investigate all allegations brought to its knowledge. The Committee regretted that no victim of the violence which occurred following the 2007 elections had received reparation hitherto and the perpetrators were yet to be prosecuted. It called on the State party to ensure that all victims of the post 2007 elections violence were effectively compensated and that the perpetrators of the violence were properly prosecuted.

Georgia

Concerning the combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of Georgia, the Committee welcomed the State party’s ongoing efforts to revise its legislation in order to ensure greater protection of human rights and give effect to the Convention, including: amendments in 2010 to the Constitution of Georgia; amendment in 2007 to the National Law on Refugees; adoption on 11 July 2007 of the Law of Georgia on the Repatriation of Forcefully Displaced Persons from the Soviet Socialist Republic by the Former USSR in the 1940s; amendments to the Organic Law on Citizenship of Georgia in December 2009; amendments to the Law on Higher Education in 2009; and the amendment on 5 July 2011 to the Civil Code of Georgia. The Committee noted with interest the extended competencies given to the Public Defender and encouraged the State party to consult with and involve him/her in all activities concerning human rights. The Committee also noted with interest the importance given to culture and the support given to cultural activities of ethnic minorities and encouraged the State party to continue along this path.

Although a number of draft laws had been put forward for public discussion, the Committee reiterated its concern that the State party had not yet adopted the draft legislation to protect minorities. The Committee encouraged the State party to speed up the adoption of specific legislation to protect minorities. The Committee was concerned that the Criminal Code did not prohibit racist discourse in general, the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority and expressions of racial hatred and incitement to racial discrimination. The Committee recommended that the State party: amend the Criminal Code to include specific provisions prohibiting racist discourse, the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority and expressions of racial hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, and banning racist organizations; introduce a clear definition of direct and indirect discrimination in the country’s civil and administrative laws; and recognize racial, religious, national or ethnic grounds as a general aggravating circumstance, in connection with all crimes and offences. The Committee was concerned at the limited number of cases of racial discrimination considered by the judiciary or other competent authorities. It recommended that the State party conduct awareness-raising campaigns among the public at large about the existence of criminal law provisions penalizing racially motivated acts and encourage victims of such acts to lodge complaints.

The Committee was concerned at allegations of arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of members of minority groups and foreigners, whose vulnerability stemmed in part from their lack of knowledge of the Georgian language perpetrated by law-enforcement officials. The Committee recommended that the State party look into such allegations and take the necessary measures so that law enforcement officials fully respected the human rights of members of minority groups and foreigners. The Committee was concerned at reports of stereotyping, prejudice and misconceptions with regard to members of ethnic and religious minorities expressed through the media, by politicians and in school textbooks. The Committee recommended that, in addition to legal and policy levels, the State party made every effort to build mutual confidence and reconciliation between the majority and minority populations and promoted a peaceful and tolerant coexistence in inter-ethnic relations through political discourse, awareness-raising campaigns and by removing derogatory or insulting references to minorities in school textbooks. The Committee was concerned that the Roma population of Georgia remained marginalized. It recommended, among others, that the State party enhance its efforts to improve the employment, social services, health and housing conditions of the Roma, alleviate their state of marginalization and poverty and ensure their greater representation in public life.

Ukraine

After reviewing the combined nineteenth through twenty-first periodic reports of Ukraine, the Committee noted with interest the State party’s resolve during the period under review to strengthen the legal framework and remedy duplication and lack of clarity among various institutions and programmes aimed at the integration and protection of ethnic groups, including: amendments to articles 115, 121, 127 and 161 of the Criminal Code concerning liability for offences motivated by racial, ethnic and religious intolerance, and the recognition of racial, ethnic and religious motives as aggravating circumstances for a range of criminal offences including murder and grievous bodily harm; the enactment of the Law on Refugees, Persons in Need of Complementary and Temporary Protection No. 7252, adopted by the Parliament on 8 July 2011 which strengthened the quality of refugee status determination procedures, the screening of asylum claims and temporary settlement, and medical services to refugees and asylum seekers including the most unprotected applicants; the migration policy, adopted by presidential decree No. 622/2011 on 30 May 2011 which contained significant provisions that protected the human rights of migrants; and the establishment of the Unit within the Ministry of the Interior to combat cybercrime through enhancing cooperation to combat the operation of offshore Internet sites spreading intolerance.

The Committee noted with concern that, despite its recommendation of 2006 that the State party adopt a new framework anti-discrimination legislation, the draft Anti-Discrimination Act was elaborated only in 2011 and its further development and adoption was contingent on the elaboration and approval of the new Inter-Departmental Strategy against Discrimination and Intolerance mandated by the President of Ukraine in May 2011. The Committee urged the State party to accelerate the adoption of a comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Act to stipulate, inter alia, the definition of direct and indirect as well as de facto and de jure discrimination, as well as structural discrimination, liability for natural and legal persons extending to both public authorities and private persons, remedies to victims of racial discrimination as well as the institutional mechanisms necessary to guarantee the implementation of the provisions of the Act in a holistic manner. The Committee remained concerned that while in practice foreign nationals and stateless persons legally present in Ukraine enjoyed the same rights and freedoms and had the same obligations as Ukrainian citizens, subject to restrictions provided by law, many legal provisions still did not guarantee the equal protection of rights and freedom from discrimination to non-citizens. It recommended that the State party guarantee equal rights and freedom from discrimination, including under article 161 of the Criminal Code, to all persons subject to its jurisdiction with the aim of avoiding ambiguity in ensuring protection to all persons.

The Committee expressed its concern at the dismissive attitudes and reluctance to accept the racist or discriminatory nature of hate crimes by the law enforcement authorities as well as the repeated incidents of ethnic and racial profiling by the police, resulting in a majority of the reported hate crimes remaining unanswered. It urged that the State party take immediate measures to effectively investigate reported hate crimes and ensure that the police did not engage in racial or ethnic profiling when conducting document checks of foreigners or members of “visible minorities”. The Committee continued to be strongly concerned by information alleging difficulties experienced by Crimean Tatars who had returned to Ukraine, including lack of access to land, employment opportunities, insufficient possibilities for studying mother tongue, hate speech against them, lack of political representation, and access to justice. The question of restitution and compensation for the loss of private dwellings and farmland upon deportation remained of serious concern. The Committee recommended that the State party ensure the restoration of political, social and economic rights of Tatars in the Crimea, in particular the restitution of property including land or the compensation for its loss under the Civil Code, or through a special law to be adopted to that end. The Committee also noted with concern various reports alleging that the communities of Krymchaks and Karaites were on the verge of extinction and it urged that the State party adopt as a matter of priority special measures to enable the preservation of the language, culture, religious specificities and traditions of Krymchaks and Karaites.

Czech Republic

In regard to the eighth and ninth periodic reports of the Czech Republic, the Committee welcomed legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party during the period under review, including: the enactment in 2009 of Act No. 198/2009 on equal treatment and on legal means of protection against discrimination (the Anti-Discrimination Act); the amendment of paragraph 133 a in 2009 of the Rules of Civil Procedure reversing the burden of proof in cases of racial discrimination; the amendment in 2008 of the Penal Code establishing racial motive as an aggravating circumstance for a number of crimes; the amendment in 2006 of the Labour Code prohibiting any discrimination against employees; the amendment of the Civic Associations Act creating the same conditions of association for all, regardless of citizenship; the adoption of a National Action Plan in the context of the international initiative “Decade of Roma Inclusion for the period 2005-2015”; the adoption of the “2008-2012 Strategy for the Work of the Czech Police Force in Relation to Minorities”; the adoption of the “2008-2010 National Action Plan for Social Inclusion” and the establishment of the Agency for Social Inclusion in Roma localities in 2008; the Supreme Administrative Court decision of 2010 dissolving the Workers Party for its advocacy of neo-Nazi ideology and expressions of opposition to immigrants and minorities; the extension of the “Concept of Roma integration for the period 2010-2013”; and awareness-raising activities organized on Roma culture, history, and the Roma Holocaust.

The Committee welcomed the 2011 population census, however, it still regretted the lack of sufficient disaggregated data to date to efficiently support assessments of racial discrimination and measures to address it. The Committee recommended that the State party include disaggregated demographic data on the ethnic composition of the population in its next periodic report. While welcoming the enactment of an Anti-Discrimination Act of 2009, the Committee was concerned that legal provisions against discrimination were scattered across the principal acts of public law (the Constitution), private law (the Civil Code, the Labour Code) and administrative law (the Code of Administrative Offences, the Anti-Discrimination Act), and the procedural codes thereto (the Code of Civil Procedure, the Code of Administrative Procedure, etc.). The Committee was concerned that since the grounds for discrimination and the remedies differed depending on the area of discrimination, victims may find the access to justice cumbersome, slow and ineffective. It recommended that the State party consider the possibility of unifying and consolidating the prohibited grounds of discrimination and standardizing remedies for racial discrimination in order to facilitate access to justice for victims of racial discrimination.

The Committee expressed its concern regarding the persistent segregation of Romani children in education as confirmed by the decision of the European Court of Human Rights of 2007 and the 2010 report of the Czech School Inspection Authority. The Committee recommended that the State party take concrete steps to ensure effective de-segregation of Romani children and students and to ensure that they were not deprived of their rights to education of any type or at any level. Despite the State party’s efforts, the Committee was concerned by the existence of socially excluded localities populated by Roma and by persistent discrimination against Roma regarding access to adequate housing and employment. The Committee recommended that the State party develop and implement policies and projects aimed at avoiding segregation of Roma communities in housing and take special measures to promote the employment of Roma in the public administration and institutions, as well as in private companies. While welcoming the decision of the Supreme Court to dissolve the Workers Party for its advocacy of neo-Nazi ideology and expressions of opposition to immigrants and minorities, the Committee regretted that article 4 (b) of the Convention was not adequately covered by the State party’s legislation as it referred to persons only but does not prohibit organizations and other propaganda activities inciting racial discrimination. The Committee recommended that the State party include prohibition of racist propaganda, organizations and activities in its legislation and recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law. The Committee also urged the State party to ensure that hate crime and violence, racist and xenophobic discourse wherever they took place were thoroughly investigated and that perpetrators, whoever they were, were effectively prosecuted.

Albania

Concerning the fifth through eighth periodic reports of Albania, the Committee noted with interest the following legislative and other measures taken by the State party: the preparations undertaken for the Census of Population and Housing, which was expected to be carried out later in 2011; law 10221 on the protection against discrimination, of 4 February 2010, under which the Office of the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination was established; the “Action Plan of the Decade of Roma Inclusion”, adopted in 2009; law 10023 on amendments to the Criminal Code” and Law 10054 on amendments to the Criminal Code, which provided for material and procedural provisions concerning the prosecution and punishment of criminal offenses related to racism and discrimination in computer system, adopted, respectively, in November 2008, and December 2008; the Code of Ethics of Albanian Media, adopted in 2006; the establishment of the State Committee for Minorities, in 2004; and the programmes, plans, policies, initiatives and measures taken since 2003 within the framework of the National Strategy “On the improvement of Living Conditions of Roma Community” in order to promote the rights of individuals belonging to the Roma minority.

The Committee reiterated its concern about the distinction in domestic law between national minorities (Greek, Macedonian and Serbian-Montenegrin minorities) and linguistic minorities (Roma and Aromanians). The Committee reiterated its recommendation that the State party reconsider the criteria on the basis of which the distinction between national minorities and linguistic minorities was based, in consultation with the groups concerned, and ensure that there was no discrimination in terms of protection or enjoyment of rights or benefits, either across groups or across territory. While welcoming the information provided by the State party on the measures taken to strengthen the institutional framework against racism and racial discrimination, the Committee was concerned about the adequacy of resources allocated to their functioning, the lack of sufficient information provided regarding the coordination among these institutions and the apparent overlapping nature of some of their competencies. It was also concerned about allegations of inadequate or insufficient representations of certain minority groups in the State Committee on Minorities. The Committee recommended that the State party continue its efforts to strengthen the national institutional framework against racism and racial discrimination by, inter-alia, allocating sufficient budgetary and human resources to ensure their proper functioning. It also recommended that the State party ensure appropriate representation of self-identified minorities in the State Committee on Minorities.

The Committee, while welcoming the adoption of a wide range of strategies and policies to improve the situation of the Roma minority, noted that the effectiveness and impact of these measures had not been sufficiently assessed. The Committee urged the State party to fully implement all anti-discrimination policies that had been adopted with regard to the Roma minority in access to education, housing, employment, health and other social services, and in access to public places, to closely monitor and evaluate progress in implementation of these policies at national and local levels, and to make an assessment of the impact of the measures already implemented in its next periodic report. The Committee was concerned about the situation of Aromanians with regard to the enjoyment of rights without any discrimination. It recommended that the State party address the situation of persons belonging to the Aromanians minorities with regard to their rights to freedom of opinion, of expression, to education and to have access to public services without any discrimination. While commending the efforts undertaken by the State party in the area of education for minorities, including the provision of education in their languages and courses on their native languages, the Committee regretted that effective enjoyment of the right to education was not guaranteed for all children from minorities and other vulnerable groups, many of whom did not have access to education in their own language. The Committee encouraged the State party to step up its efforts to ensure effective access to education of children belonging to minority groups.

United Kingdom

After reviewing the combined eighteenth through twentieth reports of the United Kingdom, the Committee welcomed the notable efforts made by the State party to tackle racial discrimination and inequality and acknowledged that it had made important progress in this regard. It also welcomed the enactment of the Equality Act of 2010 as a landmark improvement in anti- discrimination legislation and noted with appreciation the establishment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission under the Equality Act of 2006. The Committee also noted with appreciation the adoption of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006 and the launch of the Cross-Government Hate Crime Action Plan on 14 September 2009.

While the underlying causes of the riots and acts of vandalism that took place in the State party in August 2011 were yet to be known fully ascertained, the Committee noted that there were racial undertones to the situation which should not be ignored. The Committee recommended that the State party thoroughly investigate the underlying causes of the riots and acts of vandalism, and that it provide the Committee with information on the outcome of its investigations as soon as possible. The State party should ensure that any policy responses were forward-looking and promoted ethnic equality and cohesion in the State party. The Committee noted that the State party maintained its position that there was no obligation for States parties to make the Convention as such part of their domestic legal order and that the law and practice of the State party fully respected and implemented all the provisions of the Convention. The Committee requested the State party to further reconsider its position so that the Convention could more readily be invoked in the domestic courts of the State party. The Committee was concerned at reports of increasing virulent attacks and negative portrayal of ethnic minorities, immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees by the media in the State party. The Committee recommended that the State party closely monitor the media with a view to combating prejudices and negative stereotypes, the unchecked expression of which may result in racial discrimination or incitement to racial hatred. The State party should adopt all necessary measures to combat racist media coverage and ensure that such cases were thoroughly investigated and, where appropriate, sanctions were imposed.

The Committee expressed particular concern at the proposed budgets cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which may have negative effects in the execution of its mandate. It recommended that any spending cuts and proposed legislative amendments to the mandate of the Equality and Human Rights Commission should ensure that it operated independently and effectively in line with the Paris Principles. The Committee regretted the increased use of “stops and searches” by the Police which disproportionately affected members of minority ethnic groups particularly persons of Asian and African descent. The Committee urged the State party to review the impact of “stop and search” powers on ethnic minority groups under various pieces of legislation in the State party and recommended that the State party ensure that all stops were properly recorded, whether or not leading to search, and that a copy of the record be provided to the person concerned for all such incidents in order to safeguard the rights of the people subject to these laws and to check possible abuse. The Committee deeply regretted the State party’s insistence to proceed immediately with the eviction of Gypsy and Traveller community at Dale Farm in Essex before identifying and providing alternative culturally appropriate housing for members of these communities. The Committee urged the State party to halt the intended eviction which would disproportionately affect the lives of families and particularly women and children and create hardship. It strongly recommended that the State party should provide alternative culturally appropriate accommodation to these communities before any evictions were carried out.

Malta

After reviewing the combined fifteenth through twentieth periodic reports of Malta, the Committee welcomed the efforts made by the State party to address the continuing flows of irregular immigrants into its territory due to the upheavals in the region notwithstanding its limited financial and human resources. It noted with appreciation the various legislative, institutional and policy developments which had taken place in the State party to combat racial discrimination, including: amendments to the Criminal Code in 2002 and 2009, by means of Act No. III of 2002 and Act No. XI of 2009 which respectively introduced the offence of incitement to racial hatred and racial violence into the Criminal Code, as well as offences of condoning or trivializing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes against peace directed against a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin; and liability of corporate bodies for such offences; article 141 of the Criminal Code, which increased by one degree the punishment of a public officer for an offence relating to racism; act No. XI of 2009, which introduced into the legislative framework the concept of an aggravation of an offence whenever this was motivated by xenophobia and also made possible for any offence to be considered as racially or religiously aggravated or motivated by xenophobia; the reversal of the burden of proof in civil proceedings involving racial discrimination, by means of the Equal Treatment of Persons Order (LN 85 of 2007); and the introduction of the Immigration Appeals Board in the Immigration Act by means of Act XXIII of 2002, which enabled migrants to appeal decisions taken by the Principal Immigration Officer, among others.

While noting the various legislative (in particular the amended Criminal Code in 2002 and 2009) and institutional developments adopted by Malta to combat racial discrimination, the Committee was concerned about the absence of information about the practical impact on the ground of such measures and their effectiveness. It recommended that the State party take concrete measures to effectively implement its legislation and other institutional and policy measures taken to combat racial discrimination, to allocate them sufficient resources and to periodically evaluate their effectiveness for the persons or groups particularly targeted. The Committee was concerned about discriminatory discourse and hate speech by some politicians in the State party. It was also concerned about the phenomenon of dissemination of racism and racial discourse in the media, including through the Internet. The Committee recommended that the State party take appropriate means to counter and strongly condemn racism and hate speech by politicians, as well as manifestations of racism in the media, including through the Internet, in particular by effectively prosecuting those responsible whatever their status. While noting the large flow of immigrants and efforts made by the State party in dealing with it, the Committee was concerned about reports according to which their legal safeguards were not always guaranteed in practice. The Committee recommended that the State party strengthen its efforts to effectively guarantee the legal safeguards for all immigrants detained, in particular to inform them about their rights, including the legal assistance and to provide assistance to those who seek asylum.

The Committee was concerned about the recurrence of riots against conditions of their detention (2005, 2008 and 2011) by detained immigrants in detention centres, for example at Safi Barracks, and about the reported excessive use of force to counter them. It recommended that the State party take appropriate measures to improve conditions of detention and refrain of resorting to excessive use of force to counter riots by immigrants in detention centres, and to avoid such riots. While noting different measures taken by the State party to facilitate the integration of immigrants in the Maltese society, such as the establishment of the Welfare Agency, the vocational and language training, the Committee was concerned about difficulties faced by immigrant women, in particular refugees and asylum-seekers, in effectively accessing to education, to social services and to the labour market. The Committee recommended that the State party undertake focused measures to favour immigrant women and to integrate the racial dimension in all policies related to enhanced opportunities for women in the State party; carefully monitor the impact of its laws and policies on immigrant women, in particular refugees and asylum-seekers, in order to protect them against double discrimination and marginalization. In that regard, the Committee recommended that the Employment and Training Corporation also include in its initiatives the situation of immigrant women; and that it provide the Committee with information in that regard in its next periodic report.

________

For use of the information media; not an official record