Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination concludes seventy-ninth session
2 September 2011
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
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.