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UN: CERD adopted concluding observations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Cuba, Japan, Latvia, Mauritius and Montenegro (August 2018)

Date : 2018.08.31

On the 30th of August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) concluded its 96th session. At the session, the CERD adopted concluding observations on Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, China (Hong Kong), China (Macau), Cuba, Japan, Latvia, Mauritius and Montenegro. *Recommendations with asterisks [*] are one-year follow-up recommendations.

Concluding observations, reports of the State parties and other stakeholders are available at the OHCHR website . You can also watch the video archives of the public meetings with the States parties at UN Web TV .

The Committee issued a letter to the Governments of India, the Philippines and U.S. under its Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Committee welcomed the Government’s national strategy to improve the situation of Roma in housing, employment, education and health care, but it raised concerns over many institutional and practical obstacles faced by Roma people. The lack of trust in authorities was pointed out as it undermines Roma people’s access to justice, including the risk of non-registration of Roma children. The Committee was also concerned by the discrepancy in Roma population statistics between the Government and Roma associations, with the Government reporting over three times less Roma people than the associations. The necessity to prove Roma ethnicity to obtain government aid faced criticism. The Committee also shared its disappointment over the absence of NGOs and alternative reports before them. The Committee regretted that the Government has not accepted the individual communication procedure under article 14 of ICERD, as well as the absence of a definition of racial discrimination in line with the Convention. The Committee also raised concerns on racist hate speech in sports, internet and public and political discourses. Albeit acknowledging the Government’s actions to improve the asylum system in accessibility, including for children, the Committee stressed the need to ensure free legal aid and adequate interpretation for all asylum seekers. Finally the Committee was troubled by the persistence of ethnic segregation in schools, as well as ethnic requirements for the Presidency and House of People, it thus prompted the Government to resolve those issues in order to promote ethnic harmony in the country. Read more (EnglishFrench). In its concluding observations , the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas:

  • Persisting ethnic tensions, ethno-religious divisions and need for reconciliation;
  • Statistics*;
  • Compliance of legislation with article 1 of the Convention;
  • Discrimination against citizens not belonging to the Three Constituent Peoples;
  • Ombudsman*;
  • Racist motive as an aggravating circumstance;
  • Compliance of the criminal legislation with article 4 of the Convention;
  • Racist hate speech and hate crimes*;
  • Situation of Roma;
  • Representation of minority groups in political and public life;
  • Situation of returnees;
  • Segregation in education;
  • Migrants, including asylum-seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons;
  • Complaints for acts of racial discrimination;
  • Trafficking in persons;
  • Prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law; and
  • Training courses and awareness-raising campaigns on the anti-discrimination legislation.

 

China

Albeit it acknowledged the progress of the Government of China in eradicating poverty, the Committee shared its concerns over the remaining poverty and inequalities affecting ethnic minorities. The Law on the Management of Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations’ Activities and the Charity Law faced criticism for their negative impacts on NGOs working against racial discrimination. The Committee also raised concerns over the harassment of minority rights defenders. Regarding international standards and best practices, the absence of any National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) in the mainland was pointed out as a shortcoming. The Committee encouraged the Government to ratify relevant international conventions, in particular the ILO Convention No. 189 on Domestic Workers and the 1951 Refugee Convention. The Committee also expressed concerns over the absence of a definition of racial discrimination in line with the ICERD and the refusal of the Government to withdraw its reservations under the ICERD. The Committee expressed its angst over the discriminatory application of counter-terrorism measures, through which ethnic Tibetans and Uyghurs are disproportionately targeted. The Committee thus shared concerns on reports of torture, excessive use of force, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and surveillance, restriction on their freedom of movement and religion, as well as systematic racial discrimination in everyday life. Thereby, the Committee urged the Government to conduct full investigations into those allegations. The broad definition of separatism also faced criticism as a source to continue those abuses against ethnic minorities. The Committee was alarmed by the non-recognition of defectors from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as refugees, and it emphasized the risk of statelessness for their children.

Concerning Hong Kong, the action plan on human trafficking was welcomed, as well as the enhanced protection for migrant domestic workers. However, the Committee regretted the non-existence of independent monitoring of their working conditions, and shared its concerns over allegations of exploitations and abuses through the passport confiscation by employers. The Committee also requested stronger protection in the racial discrimination ordinance and disaggregated data of non-nationals to assess the situation. Discrimination in education faced by ethnic minorities was pointed out together with reports of the lack of access to bilingual education as well as de-facto ethnic segregation in the school system.

On Macau, the Committee welcomed the consideration of racist motives as aggravating circumstances in the prosecution of crimes. Nevertheless, similarly to Hong Kong, the issue of discrimination against Uyghurs and Tibetans in education was addressed. Also, the situation of migrant domestic workers raised questions as no independent monitoring exists on their conditions.

Read more (EnglishFrench). NGO meeting (EnglishFrench). In its concluding observations , the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas:

  • Definition and criminalization of racial discrimination;
  • National human rights institutions;
  • Declaration;
  • Administrative and civil complaints on racial discrimination;
  • Racist hate speech and hate crimes;
  • Development and poverty reduction;
  • Unrecognized ethnic groups;
  • Education;
  • Resettlement and land expropriation;
  • Health;
  • Foreign domestic workers;
  • Civil society*;
  • Hukou;
  • Broad definitions of terrorism and separatism;
  • Torture and ill-treatment;
  • Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR)*;
  • Tibetans*;
  • Ethnic Mongolians;
  • Employment;
  • Trafficking in persons; and
  • Refugees and asylum seekers.

 

Cuba

Despite recognizing the progress brought in 2013 with the amendment of the labour code to improve the protection from racial discrimination at work, the Committee drew the Government’s attention to allegations of reprisals, intimidation and harassment undermining the access to justice by victims of racial discrimination. Marginalization and exclusion of people of African descent raised particular concerns of the Committee as they are reportedly disproportionately affected by poverty and under-represented in politics. The Committee recounted the recent event of a human rights defender (HRD) who was not allowed to travel to Geneva and address the Committee. It raised concerns on many alleged cases of restriction on the freedom of expression of Afro-descendant HRDs and journalists in Cuba. The Committee encouraged the Government to improve the protection of HRDs. The Committee also requested more information on intersecting discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). The Committee also inquired into the situation of women of African descent and their political representation. Finally, the Committee questioned the Government’s data by ethnicity which is based on self-identification which may not reflect the actual situation, as pointed out that many might identify with a less marginalized group. Read more (EnglishFrench). NGO meeting (EnglishFrench). In its concluding observations , the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas:

  • Application of the Convention;
  • Demographic composition of the population;
  • National human rights institution;
  • Situation of human rights defenders*;
  • Definition of racial discrimination;
  • Discrimination against Afro-descendants;
  • Plan to fight against racial discrimination*;
  • Access to justice*;
  • Prison population;
  • Multiple forms of discrimination against women;
  • Return of migrants in the irregular situation;
  • Trafficking in persons;
  • Excessive use of force; and
  • Combatting racial stereotypes.

 

Japan

While acknowledging some progress in tackling racist hate speech, the Committee shared its concerns over the inefficacy of the legal system to properly fight incitement to racial hatred and violence. The Committee pointed out the continuing presence of racist demonstrations after the enactment of the “Act on the Promotion of Efforts to Eliminate Unfair Discriminatory Speech and Behavior against Persons Originating from Outside Japan”. Additionally, the Committee expressed the need for the adoption of a definition of Buraku discrimination in line with the ICERD. Regarding the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa, the Committee raised the issue of the Government’s constant refusal to recognise them as indigenous people, as well as the hindrance on their access to ancestral land for use by the U.S military. The Committee nevertheless welcomed the Government’s progress in promoting cultural rights of the indigenous Ainu people, but emphasized the need for better protection of their land and linguistic rights. The Committee also requested disaggregated data on their current socio-economic status in Japan. The institutional discrimination against foreigners also raised concerns of the Committee, including the domestic violence suffered by foreign women married to Japanese husbands. Regarding Korean residents (Zainichi Koreans), the Committee expressed concerns over the discrimination faced by Korean schools and their students, particularly the exclusion from the High School Tuition Support Fund Program and other subsidies. Moreover, the discriminatory treatment in the pension system and teacher’s access to managerial positions faced criticism. Human rights violations under the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) drew the attention of the Committee which called for a better legislation to protect the rights of technical interns and trainees from exploitations. Finally, the issue of “Comfort Women” was addressed with worry, the Committee shared concerns over the absence of victims-centred approaches to the issue. The recent agreement with the Government of the Republic of Korea was considered insufficient. The Committee was alerted by the recent trend in denial or revision of the history by public figures and government officials. Read more (EnglishFrench). NGO meeting (English/ French). In its concluding observations , the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas:

  • Legal Framework on Racial Discrimination;
  • National human rights institution*;
  • Reservation to Article 4;
  • Hate Speech and hate crimes;
  • Situation of the Ainu people;
  • Situation of the Ryukyu/Okinawa;
  • Situation of Burakumin;
  • Situation of Koreans;
  • Profiling and Surveillance of Muslims;
  • Intersecting forms of discrimination and violence against women;
  • “Comfort Women”;
  • Situation of Migrants;
  • Technical intern training programmes for foreigners*;
  • Situation of non-citizens;
  • Refugees and asylum seekers; and
  • Trafficking in persons.

 

Latvia

Although it acknowledged the State party’s online monitoring to combat scapegoating in election times, the Committee pointed out a recent extremely racist online post by a political party aiming at swaying public opinion through disinformation and incitement to racial hatred. The Committee regretted over the 10 years delay of the State party to submit the periodic reports and the absence of its National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) at the session. The issue of minorities and their legal qualification as non-citizens, neither foreigners nor stateless, were raised by the Committee as the limitation on their human rights. Furthermore, the recent amendments to law and regulation reducing access to education in minority language were criticized by the Committee as an assimilation measure rather than integration of those minorities. Additionally, the Committee expressed concerns that Russian and Roma minorities are reportedly over represented in prison, and the Roma unemployment rate is three times higher than the national average. The issue of racist hate crimes was also raised, particularly the discrepancy in data provided by NGOs and the State party. Finally the Committee encouraged the Government to adopt a definition of racial discrimination in line with the ICERD. Read more (EnglishFrench). NGO meeting (EnglishFrench). In its concluding observations , the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas:

  • Statistics;
  • National Human Rights Institution;
  • Definition of racial discrimination;
  • Anti-discrimination legal framework and its enforcement;
  • Hate crimes and hate speech;
  • Language policy;
  • Access to justice;
  • Non citizens*;
  • Situation of Roma*; and
  • Asylum seekers and refugees.

 

Mauritius

While acknowledging the establishment of the Truth and Justice Commission as a positive step, the Committee expressed concerns over discriminatory practices based on caste in Mauritius. The Committee was alarmed by reports on an unofficial hierarchy based on colour, race and descent, existing both in political and public spheres of life. The Committee thus required more information on efforts to combat caste-based discrimination, and the relationship between members of different castes. The absence of disaggregated data by religion, ethnicity, caste and other characteristics led the Committee to request for data on the representation of minorities in politics, particularly Creoles, Muslims, Chagossians and those belonging to lower castes. The Committee acknowledged the ongoing election reform and encouraged the Government to improve the system in order to ensure equal representation in politics. The situation of Creoles in Mauritius was addressed frequently by the Committee, data on their socio-economic status and cases of discrimination was requested. The Committee regretted the non-recognition of Creole as an official language. Regarding the Chagossians, more data on their population and statistics on their imprisonment and employment was also requested. Better protection for migrant workers facing abuses and risking enslavement was also encouraged by the Committee. It also invited the Government to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention. Finally, the Committee shared concerns on the Equal Opportunity law’s provisions allowing unspecified justification for differential treatment which may lead to discrimination. Read more (EnglishFrench). NGO meeting (English/ French). In its concluding observations , the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas:

  • Legal status of the Convention;
  • Disaggregated data;
  • National human rights institution;
  • Equal Opportunities Act, Commission and Tribunal;
  • Classification of population;
  • Inter-ethnic relations;
  • Truth and Justice Commission;
  • Complaints of racial discrimination;
  • Hate speech and racial profiling;
  • Prison population;
  • Public and political participation;
  • The Creoles;
  • Creole language*;
  • The situation of Chagossians*;
  • Migrant workers; and
  • Trafficking in persons.

 

Montenegro

The Committee welcomed the Government’s initiatives in promoting the employment of Roma people, however it noted with concern about the high unemployment rate of Roma people, associated with intergenerational poverty and stigmas. Additionally, it was pointed out that the risk for Roma children to be stateless is significant due to lack of registration and awareness of Roma parents about their rights. The Committee expressed concerns over the constant targeting of Roma people in racist hate speech by politicians, the media and in the internet, as well as widespread hate crimes against them encouraged by the absence of criminalisation of organisations inciting racial hatred. Furthermore, the Committee regretted both the absence of NGOs and alternative reports before the Committee, and insufficient involvement of NGOs in the preparation of the State party’s report. The Committee also encouraged the Government to strengthen the independence and financial autonomy of the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) of Montenegro. Due to the absence of information on discrimination against the Ashkali community in the State party’s report, the Committee requested clarification on their situation. The Committee’s asked for more recent disaggregated data to fully assess the minorities’ socio-economic and other situations including their imprisonment and employment rate. Finally, the Committee regretted the conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and migrants, particularly the extremely low success rate for asylum application. The Committee encouraged the Government to ratify the ILO Convention No. 189 on Domestic Workers. Read more (EnglishFrench). In its concluding observations , the Committee issued recommendations concerning following areas:

  •  Statistics;
  • The Office of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro;
  • Racist hate speech and hate crimes;
  • Representation of national and ethnic minorities in political and public life;
  • Situations of Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians*;
  • Education for Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians;
  • Child and forced marriages and domestic violence in Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities;
  • Trafficking in persons;
  • Asylum-seekers, refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless persons;
  • Complaints for acts of racial discrimination*; and
  • Human rights education to combat prejudices and promote understanding.

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Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure

India: The Committee sent a letter  to the Government to follow-up on the previous communication concerning hate crimes against African studentsThe Committee requested the Government to provide information on investigations and prosecution of perpetrators of the alleged attacks. The Committee also reminded the Government about the continuing breach of India’s reporting obligation to the Committee.

Philippines: The Committee issued a letter  to follow-up on the listing of indigenous leaders and defenders in the “terrorist” list. The Committee welcomed the de-listing of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, but it expressed concerns that other former UN independent experts and human rights defenders including indigenous leaders are kept in the list. It further raised concerns to the Government that the listing may amount to intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders. It urged the State party to remove the names of the former UN experts, human rights defenders and indigenous leaders._

USA: The Committee sent a letter  concerning a series of human rights violations against migrants and their children caused by “zero-tolerance policy” including indigenous peoples from mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras who have crossed the Southwest US borderThese included: the separation of migrant parents/ families and their children; reunification process; access to information and legal remedies; detention conditions; and racist hate speech against migrants.

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