Ukraine and the United Kingdom urged to address racial and ethnic discrimination

At the end of August 2016, following the end of its 90th session, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (the Committee) published its concluding observations on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by Ukraine and the United Kingdom. In both cases, the Committee echoed a recommendations submitted by the Equal Rights Trust in parallel reports.

In respect of Ukraine, the Trust based its recommendations on the findings of our 2015 report, In the Crosscurrents: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Ukraine, the first comprehensive study ever produced on the rights to equality and non-discrimination in the country. The submission outlined the need to address discrimination affecting minorities such as the Roma, Crimean Tartars and Jews, focusing on issues such as hate crime, discrimination in interaction with public authorities and in education and employment.

Among other recommendations, the Trust called for the amendment of discriminatory legal provisions, for Roma and Crimean Tartar children to be fully integrated within the education system and for steps to be taken to address high unemployment among minorities. We also called for improvement in the investigation and prosecution of hate crime and incitement, and for effective enforcement action against public bodies which are found to have discriminated.

In its concluding observations, the Committee recognised many of the patterns of discrimination identified by the Trust. For example, it called for specific action in respect of:

  • Discrimination and inequalities in access to employment, education and housing for Roma persons;
  • Poor educational outcomes for Roma children, as reflected in the literacy rate and the high drop-out rate;
  • The settlement of Crimean Tatars in Ukraine, including by providing or facilitating access to employment, social services and education; and
  • Investigation of hate speech and the condemnation of racist statements in public discourse, including from public figures.

In its report to the Committee on the United Kingdom, the Trust submitted evidence generated through a 2015 project in which we engaged with Roma communities in different regions of the country to identify patterns of discrimination affecting Roma access to basic services, and to engage public authorities to develop solutions. The report made recommendations on addressing disadvantage suffered by Roma in the areas of housing, education and health.  The Trust also used the report to express alarm concerning the rise of xenophobia, racist hate speech and racism in the United Kingdom following the referendum on its membership of the European Union.

In its concluding observations, the Committee included the need to address discrimination faced by Roma, calling for a comprehensive strategy to address challenges in housing, education and health. It also made specific recommendations in respect of access to housing, an area which the Trust’s submission had focused upon, calling for:  

  • Provision of adequate and culturally appropriate accommodation and stopping sites for the Roma community; and
  • Consultation with representatives of Gypsy and Traveller communities before measures affecting their situation are implemented.

The Committee again reflected concerns around the increase of racism and hate speech; among its recommendations it included the need to ensure that public officials both refrain from such speech and publicly condemn hate speech so as to promote a culture of tolerance and respect. 

  • To read the Trust’s submission to the Committee in relation to Ukraine click here.
  • To read the Committee’s concluding observations on Ukraine click here
  • To read the Trust’s submission to the Committee in relation to the United Kingdom click here.
  • To read the Committee’s concluding observations on the United Kingdom click here.

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