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CERD 105th session summary: Chile, Denmark, Singapore, Switzerland and Thailand

Date : 2021.12.09

On the 3rd of December, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) concluded its 105th session. In this session, the Committee adopted concluding observations on Chile, Denmark, Singapore, Switzerland and Thailand, and the list of issues prior to reporting (LOIPR) on San Marino and Trinidad and Tobago. It adopted guidelines on the cooperation with NGOs and NHRIs.

In accordance with its follow-up procedure, The Committee issued a follow-up letter to Montenegro.

The Committee sent letters to Australia, Kazakhstan and the United States of America under its Early Warning and Urgent Action procedure.

Under the individual communications procedure, the Committee adopted an opinion on Kotor vs. France (65/2017). It found that France has violated the right to remedies and protection under Article 6 of the Convention in the case of discrimination in employment against the petitioner who is a French national born in Togo.

On the inter-state communication submitted by the State of Palestine against Israel, the Committee elected members of the ad hoc Conciliation Commission by secret ballot. The Commission is composed of: Ms. Verene Albertha SHEPHERD (Jamaica); Mr. Gün KUT (Turkeys); Ms. Faith Dikeledi Pansy TLAKULA (South Afric); Ms. Chinsung CHUNG (Republic of Korea); and Mr. Michał BALCERZAK (Poland).

Concluding observations, reports of the States parties and other stakeholders are available at the OHCHR website. Video archives of the public meetings can be accessed at UN Web TV.

 

Chile

The Committee paid a particular attention to the participation of indigenous and minority groups in the ongoing constitution-drafting process. The State party was requested to provide disaggregated statistics of the population including migrants. The Committee inquired about institutional and legal frameworks against racial discrimination including the anti-discrimination law and the role of the Office of the Undersecretary for Human Rights. Concerning racist hate speech, the Committee asked about court cases, media regulation and legislative measures. Questions on the rights of indigenous peoples ranged from the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, the security of human rights defenders, to militarization and the impact of business activities. With regard to the administration of justice, the State party received questions on racial profiling and the application of the counter-terrorism law. The Committee inquired the State party on the impact of its project to reduce statelessness. The State party was asked to elaborate on its measures for Roma such as the official recognition as a minority group and their right to education. The Committee raised concerns on discrimination against people of African descent, including in the access to health and census. The situation of migrants including refugees and asylum seekers, especially those from Haiti, alarmed the Committee, such as violations of the principle of non-refoulement, restrictions on work and social benefits, human trafficking, and violence against them. Read more (English/ French). In its concluding observations, the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas (*Recommendations with asterisks [*] are one-year follow-up recommendations.):

  • Statistics;
  • Constitutional developments;
  • Measures to combat racial discrimination – the Anti-Discrimination Act (No. 20.609);
  • Multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination;
  • Institutional framework;
  • National human rights institution;
  • Racist hate speech and hate crimes*;
  • Racial discrimination and law enforcement;
  • Racial profiling;
  • Counter-terrorism legislation;
  • Situation of human rights defenders;
  • Situation of indigenous peoples*;
  • Situation of people of African descent;
  • Situation of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees*;
  • Racial Stereotypes of people of African descent, indigenous peoples and migrants; and
  • Access to justice.

 

Denmark

The Committee encouraged the State party to incorporate the Convention into the domestic legal order including of Greenland and of the Faroe Islands. Questions on the access to remedy ranged from court cases and complaints of racial discrimination, to the role of Board of Equal Treatment and other domestic institutions. The State party was asked about its measures to prohibit and combat racial profiling including the use of algorithm. The Committee asked the State party to share information on racist hate speech and hate crimes such as the number of complaints, court cases and human rights training of law enforcement officials. The Committee raised a concern on activities of racist organizations in both online and offline. The State party was recommended to collect disaggregated statistics of the population to comprehend the situation of racial discrimination. With regard to the “Ghetto Package” (Parallel Society Package), the Committee asked the State party about the definition of “non-Western”, forced evictions, the closure of high schools and enhanced criminal and other punishments. Concerning migrants including refugees and asylum seekers, the Committee inquired about their right to education, confiscations of their belongings, repatriations, and the deprivation of citizenship. The Committee was particularly interested in their right to health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and reproductive rights of undocumented migrant women. The State party was requested to provide up-to-date information on the situation of Roma. The Committee raised a number of questions on ethnic minorities including people of African descent such as their representation in public and political affairs and complaints of racial discrimination. Read more (English/ French). In its concluding observations, the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas (*Recommendations with asterisks [*] are one-year follow-up recommendations.):

  • Data collection;
  • The Convention in domestic law;
  • Enforcement of provisions against racial discrimination and evaluation of policies;
  • Use of terms “Western” and “non-Western”;
  • The “parallel society” plan;
  • Greenland;
  • Faroe Islands;
  • Hate crime and hate speech*;
  • Racial profiling;
  • Discrimination in the labour market;
  • Interpretation in health care;
  • Situation of the COVID-19 pandemic*;
  • Situation of Roma;
  • Discrimination of persons of African descent*;
  • Refugees and asylum seekers;
  • Citizenship; and
  • Remedies.

 

Singapore

The Committee advised the State party to establish an independent national human rights institution (NHRI). The Committee invited the State party to provide disaggregated data on complaints of racial discrimination, racist hate speech and hate crimes. The Committee inquired about the independence and function of the Presidential Council for Minority Rights, as well as the role of the Inter-Ministry Committee on the ICERD. The Committee asked if the State party plans to adopt a national action plan against racism. With regard to the administration of justice, the Committee asked a wide range of questions such as training of legal professionals, detention conditions, the access to legal aid, racial profiling, and the application of death penalty. The Committee recommended for the domestic incorporation of the Convention and the adoption of anti-discrimination law. Concerning migrant workers, the Committee raised a number of questions such as their working conditions, access to remedy, as well as their accommodations and freedom of movement in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the situation of migrant domestic workers, particularly the exclusion from the employment act, debt bondage, the lack of access to health, and the confiscation of passports by employers alarmed the Committee. The Committee requested the State party to provide more information on refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons, as well as measures against human trafficking. Regarding ethno-religious minorities, the Committee’s questions ranged from their rights to housing and education, to their representation in State institutions and the regulations on headscarves in workplaces. The State party was encouraged to adopt special measures. The Committee was concerned by restricted civil society space, especially by reports of charges against human rights defenders who spoke up for migrant and minority groups. Read more (English/ French). In its concluding observations, the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas (*Recommendations with asterisks [*] are one-year follow-up recommendations.):

  • Data collection;
  • Definition of racial discrimination and legislation;
  • National human rights institution;
  • Racist hate speech and hate crimes;
  • Racial profiling;
  • Situation of ethnic minorities;
  • Right to health*;
  • Minorities in public and political life;
  • Criminal justice system;
  • Migrant workers;
  • Stateless persons, refugees and asylum seekers;
  • Complaints of racial discrimination; and
  • Access to justice*.

 

Switzerland

The Committee welcomed the State party’s decision to establish an independent national human rights institution (NHRI). The State party was encouraged to enhance the NHRI by increasing its budget and adding a mandate to handle complaints of racial discrimination. Regarding the administration of justice, the Committee asked various questions such as monitoring and handling of hate crimes, training of legal professionals, and awareness raising on victims’ access to remedy. The Committee raised a concern on reports of racial profiling by law enforcement officials, particularly against persons from North Africa. Concerning racist hate speech including anti-Semitism, the State party was requested to provide information on individual cases, measures in the political sphere, media, the internet, as well as against racist organisations. The State party was asked to elaborate on its human rights education to combat racial discrimination and whether it includes the history of minority groups. With regard to the situation of migrants, the Committee asked about treatments in reception centers, their right to health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the access to education for migrant children, domestic violence against migrant women, the prevention of statelessness, and assistance measures for victims of human trafficking. The State party was recommended to collect disaggregated statistics of the population and consider adopting special measures for disadvantaged groups. On minorities, the Committee shared concerns on the situation of Sinti, Yenish/Manush and Roma communities such as the reduction of halting sites and the discriminatory impact of the prohibition of begging. The State party was inquired on discrimination against people of African-descent as well as multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. The Committee requested the State party to provide information on its cooperation with civil society including in the drafting of the periodic report. Read more (English/ French). In its concluding observations, the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas (*Recommendations with asterisks [*] are one-year follow-up recommendations.):

  • Application of the Convention in domestic law;
  • Reservation;
  • National human rights institution;
  • Institutional framework;
  • Racist hate crime and hate speech*;
  • Racist police violence;
  • Racial profiling*;
  • Yenish, Sinti/Manush and Roma;
  • Situation of non-citizens, including migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons*; and
  • Education and training to combat racial discrimination.

 

Thailand

The Committee was concerned by the lack of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) with indigenous peoples for development projects on their ancestral land, including the recent registration of the Kaeng Krachan National Park (“KKNP”) as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Questions on indigenous peoples included the recognition of indigenous rights, forced evictions, and their access to remedy. Concerning ethnic minorities, the Committee raised concerns on discriminatory impacts of laws and policies related to security and environment preservation, restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, and reports of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. Lower socio-economic status of Isaan people alerted the Committee. The State party was inquired about the situation of human rights defenders belonging to indigenous and minority groups, particularly in the context of business and human rights. The situation of migrants including refugees and asylum seekers drew the Committee’s attention, such as the non-ratification of the 1951 Refugee Convention, LGBT+ refugees, victims of human trafficking, detention conditions, deportations, and statelessness. The State party was recommended to withdraw reservations on the Convention, incorporate it into domestic legal order, and adopt the definition of racial discrimination. On racist hate speech and hate crimes, the Committee asked the State party to provide information on court cases and measures for traditional and social media. The Committee shared a concern on the prevalence of anti-Black racism in the country. The Committee inquired about the independence of the national human rights institution (NHRI). A number of questions related to racial profiling were raised such as the use of DNA data of Muslim Malays and the use of facial recognition technology. The Committee requested the State party to share disaggregated statistics of the population including on intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination. Information on response measures for indigenous, minority and migrant groups against the COVID-19 pandemic was requested. Read more (English/ French). In its concluding observations, the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas (*Recommendations with asterisks [*] are one-year follow-up recommendations.):

  • Statistics;
  • Reservations and declarations;
  • Incorporation of the Convention into the domestic legal order;
  • Prohibition of racial discrimination;
  • Intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination;
  • National human rights institution;
  • Hate speech and hate crimes;
  • Racial profiling;
  • Human rights defenders*;
  • Situation of ethnic and ethno-religious groups under martial law and state of emergency*;
  • Situation of ethnic and ethno-religious groups and indigenous peoples;
  • Indigenous lands, territories and resources;
  • Trafficking in persons;
  • Migrant workers;
  • Refugees and asylum seekers;
  • Stateless persons;
  • COVID-19 and racial discrimination*; and
  • Access to justice.

 

Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure

Australia: The Committee issued a letter concerning the Western Australian Government’s draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020, and its impact on Aboriginal peoples. The Committee shared a concern on allegations regarding the draft bill including its consultation process, the discretionary power of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, effective remedies and legal redress. The Committee requested the State party to provide information on: the allegations; the current status of the draft bill; and measures adopted to guarantee the right to consultation of Aboriginal peoples in Western Australia.

 

Kazakhstan: The Committee sent a follow-up letter to the State party on the ethnic-based violence against persons belonging to the Dungan minority committed by non-Dungan persons in February 2020. The Committee requested the State party to include in its presentation at the periodic review scheduled in April 2022 on measures adopted to investigate the allegations of incitements to violence and of hate speech against the Dungan minority in relation to the events in February 2020 and on steps taken to ensure a fair trial for Dungan persons subjected to criminal investigations and proceedings.

 

USA: The Committee adopted a follow-up letter on the situation of Gwich’in indigenous peoples in Alaska. The Committee welcomed the suspension of all activities under the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program in the Arctic Wild Refuge until the completion of a new comprehensive analysis. The Committee reminded the State party on its human rights obligations under the Convention including the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

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