The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on Friday issued findings on Croatia, Italy, Namibia, Senegal, Turkmenistan and Uruguay after reviewing the six States parties in its latest session.
The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as positive aspects. Key highlights include:
The Committee expressed concern over reports of racial discrimination against Roma and Serb minorities, particularly in employment and education. It was also concerned over the gap between cases registered officially under the Anti-Discrimination Act and the much larger number of cases indicated in surveys on ethnic or national minorities and non-citizens. The Committee recommended that Croatia intensify its efforts to combat all forms of racial discrimination by fully enforcing the Anti-Discrimination Act, particularly in employment and education, and organising awareness-raising campaigns targeting vulnerable groups.
The Committee was also concerned about domestic courts still need to complete the prosecution of people responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law and the overall decrease in investigations and prosecutions since 2013. It also questioned the differences in sentencing of Serb and Croatian convicted of serious violations. The Committee asked the State party to expedite the prosecution of the remaining perpetrators of serious international humanitarian law violations and effectively investigate and trial all such cases, regardless of ethnicity.
The Committee was alarmed by politicians and high-level government officials using hate speech and racist political discourse against ethnic minorities, particularly Roma, Sinti and Camminanti, Africans and people of African descent, in the media and on the Internet. The Committee urged Italy to effectively apply its legislation to combat hate speech and incitement to racial discrimination and ensure that all hate speech and racially motivated crimes are effectively investigated, and those found guilty are punished, regardless of their official status. The Committee also raised a red flag at racist acts during sports events, including physical and verbal attacks against athletes of African descent. It asked Italy to investigate all racist abuses in sports and sanction those responsible.
The Committee was disturbed by the recent legislation, particularly the Law on Immigration and Security in 2018 and the “Cutro Law” in 2023, which made migrants, asylum seekers and refugees more vulnerable to human rights violations, especially violations of their rights to life and security. The Committee also expressed concern at the legal restrictions that have been put on search and rescue at sea operations, which may prevent organisations from rescuing migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. It urged Italy to take all necessary measures to combat discrimination against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and protect their right to life, security and physical integrity. Italy was also asked to guarantee that migrants and asylum seekers can apply for international protection and access to refugee status determination procedures.
According to official statistics, members of Khoisan and Otjiherero language groups experience double the depth of poverty compared to the European language group in Namibia. The Committee expressed concern that Namibia’s development policies and programs do not effectively address the disparate socio-economic levels of different ethnic groups or take into account the negative effects of intersectional forms of poverty. The Committee recommended that Namibia collect disaggregated information to compare progress made through relevant measures and adopt a gender-sensitive approach to implement the country’s development policies.
The Committee was deeply concerned about hate speech and incitement to racial hatred at sports events, in the media and on the Internet. Additionally, the Committee raised its concern over the lack of information on the numerous complaints brought before the Ombudsman concerning hate speech and incitement to racial hatred. It asked the Prosecutor’s office and other Namibian authorities, in cooperation with relevant bodies, such as the National Rugby Union, Editors Forum of Namibia Ombudsman, and internet service providers, to investigate and prosecute all racist hate speech and incitement to racial discrimination.
The Committee noted Senegal’s efforts to modernise “daraas”, the traditional Koranic schools, and to combat the exploitation of children. However, the Committee remained seriously concerned about abuses and other mistreatment of Senegalese and foreign talibé children, including forced begging, physical, psychological and sexual violence and exploitation of children working in gold mines, especially migrant children from West African countries. The Committee urged Senegal to ensure that all cases of mistreatment, abuse, and exploitation are investigated and that those responsible, including religious leaders and Koranic teachers, are prosecuted and punished appropriately.
The Committee raised concerns about albinism-related discrimination, stigma, and physical violence, which were often based on ritual beliefs and skin colour. The Committee urged Senegal to prioritise the right to life of people with albinism and take more effective measures to protect them from violence, abduction, and discrimination. It also asked Senegal to fully investigate all reported cases of aggression against albinism, including those identified by civil society organisations, end impunity for perpetrators, and conduct educational campaigns to combat false prejudices and beliefs.
The Committee remained concerned by the low number of officially registered refugees and the lack of data on asylum applications, including the number of rejected cases. The Committee also voiced concerns about accusations that the existing barriers deter new asylum seekers, especially Afghans. It recommended that Turkmenistan revise its refugee and asylum policy, promptly register all applications, and refer applicants for international protection at borders to the appropriate asylum authorities and refugee status determination procedures.
The Committee raised concerns about the lack of information on complaints regarding racial discrimination acts handled by law enforcement, domestic courts and other authorities, including the Commissioner for Human Rights. The Committee suggested the State party establish remedies and redress mechanisms for victims of racial discrimination.
Educational exclusion and child poverty affecting people of African descent were of the Committee’s concern. The Committee also highlighted the low representation of the Afro-descendant population, especially women, in decision-making and management positions in the private sector. The Committee recommended that Uruguay implement a comprehensive strategy against child poverty, ensuring children of African descent have access to education, health care, and food. It also recommended that Uruguay carry out a comprehensive employment strategy, such as providing technical and professional training, to help the Afro-descendant population, particularly women, move from the informal to the formal sector of the economy.
The Committee noted that Uruguay has no investigation records of police racial profiling or other discrimination cases despite reports indicating the persistence of ill-treatment, racial profiling, abuse of authority, and excessive use of force against Convention-protected individuals and groups. The Committee thus expressed concern that the National Directorate for Internal Affairs of the Ministry of the Interior lacks the independence to investigate. The Committee recommended that Uruguay ensure that racial profiling is clearly prohibited in legislation and establish an adequately resourced and fully independent oversight mechanism to investigate complaints of excessive use of force and racial profiling by law enforcement officials.
The above findings, officially named Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session webpage.