MINELRES: 5th Birthday EU Race Directive: Central Europe Does Not Comply

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Thu Jul 21 10:45:19 2005


Original sender: European Roma Rights Centre <errc@errc.org>


ERRC Urges the European Commission to Redouble Efforts to Secure Race
Equality

Budapest, Brussels, 19 July 2005. On the occasion of the fifth
anniversary of the official publication of the EU Race Directive, the
European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) today submitted detailed comments on
measures in five European countries to date to implement the principle
of equal treatment, irrespective of racial or ethnic origin. The
comments are timed to coincide with deadlines for EU Member States to
provide the European Union with comprehensive information on efforts
undertaken to date to secure equal treatment for persons facing the very
serious harm of racial discrimination.

On 29 June 2000, the European Council of the European Union adopted
Directive 43/2000 "implementing the principle of equal treatment between
persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin". The "Race Directive"
as it has come to be called, was published in the official gazette of
the European Union on 19 July 2000 and the rest is history; for the
first time in Europe's history, laws banning racial discrimination in a
range of sectoral fields were required throughout the continent. The
Directive provided extensive details of the scope and content of laws
banning racial discrimination. Deadlines were also set for transposition
of the Directive's provisions into domestic law: 19 July 2003 for the
fifteen Member States of the Union as it existed in 2000, and the date
of accession for any countries joining the Union thereafter.

Under Article 17 of the Directive, "Member States shall communicate to
the Commission by 19 July 2005, and every five years thereafter, all the
information necessary for the Commission to draw up a report to the
European Parliament and the Council on the application of this
Directive."

Timed to coincide with this deadline for reporting, the ERRC today
submitted detailed comments concerning transposition into domestic law
of the requirements of the EU Race Directive of four EU Member States -
the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - as well as one EU
candidate country - Romania - where concerns prevail that transposition
has been partial, erroneous or not yet adequate to secure equal
treatment in practice for all, irrespective of racial or ethnic origin.
The ERRC submission to the Union institutions focuses in particular on
the ability of individuals to realize the promise of equality embodied
in the Directive. The document discusses in detail a number of issues
arising in the five countries at issue, related to failures of justice
where racial discrimination is concerned.

Speaking on the occasion of the Directives birthday, ERRC Acting
Executive Director Claude Cahn said: "Czech parliamentarians have
sabotaged efforts to approve a comprehensive anti-discrimination law.
The Polish government has not yet seriously even tried to adopt one. In
Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, positive moves by the legislature have
been followed by inertia, incompetence or obstruction by implementing
authorities. New laws in those countries have not yet made even the
shallowest dent into a reality of pervasive racial exclusion, because
the administration has yet to implement them well, where it has tried to
implement these laws at all. These failures mean little change on the
ground for several million Roma - the group most affected by the forces
of racial hatred in Central and Eastern Europe today."

The full text of the ERRC submission to the European Commission is
available at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2280

Background:

On 29 June 2000, the European Council of the European Union adopted
Directive 43/2000 "implementing the principle of equal treatment between
persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin". The "Race Directive"
as it has come to be called, was published in the official gazette of
the European Union on 19 July 2000. For the first time in Europe's
history, laws banning racial discrimination in a range of sectoral
fields were required throughout the continent. The Directive provides
extensive details of the scope and content of laws banning racial
discrimination. Deadlines were also set for transposition of the
Directive's provisions into domestic law: 19 July 2003 for the fifteen
Member States of the Union as it existed in 2000, and the date of
accession for any countries joining the Union thereafter.

In the five years since its adoption, the Directive has already changed
forever the contours of European laws banning racial discrimination. The
Directive exploded the confines of previous European-level
anti-discrimination laws - until then confined primarily to gender
discrimination - by banning racial discrimination not only in
employment, but also in a range of other fields including education,
housing, health care and social services. The Directive set out four
distinct definitions of racial discrimination, and required that all be
banned under domestic law:

- "Direct discrimination", taken to occur where one person is treated
less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a
comparable situation on grounds of racial or ethnic origin;
- "Indirect discrimination", taken to occur "where an apparently neutral
provision, criterion or practice would put persons of a racial or ethnic
origin at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons, unless
that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a
legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and
necessary";
- "Harassment": deemed to be discrimination "when an unwanted conduct
related to racial or ethnic origin takes place with the purpose or
effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an
intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment";
- "An instruction to discriminate" against persons on grounds of racial
or ethnic origin.

The Directive also bans "victimisation", meaning that Member States must
adopt laws to protect individuals from any adverse treatment or adverse
consequence as a reaction to a complaint or to proceedings aimed at
enforcing compliance with the principle of equal treatment.

Among a number of key provisions, the Directive requires that where a
complainant has succeeded in showing that racial discrimination may be
presumed to have taken place, the burden of proof shifts to the
respondent. In addition, the Directive requires that "effective,
proportionate and dissuasive" sanctions be imposed on racial
discriminators.

The full text of the Race Directive is available at: 
http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/fundamental_rights/pdf/legisln/2000_
43_en.pdf 


Detailed information about the Directive is available at: 
http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/fundamental_rights/legis/legln_en.ht
m. 

A summary by the ERRC of full requirements of laws banning racial 
discrimination under EU and related international law is available at: 
http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2277.
_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Centre is an international public interest law 
organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Centre, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org.

European Roma Rights Centre
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary


Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

_____________________________________________

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