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Coalition of human rights groups challenge government report to UN Committee

The 1990 Trust
1/8/2003

While the UK government are due to give evidence to the UN Committee for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, non-governmental organisations have compiled a shadow report which exposes a number of areas of concern.

The International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination came into force in 1969. It is one of the most widely ratified treaties, with 162 signatories. It commits States parties to take measures to abolish racial discrimination in both law and practice.

A Commitee (CERD), was established to monitor how States have fulfilled their obligations according to the Convention. Every two years, the Government submits its report to the Committee.

Representatives from the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office now head for Geneva to give evidence to the CERD on the progress they have made in relation to the legislative, administrative and other measures they have taken to give effect to the International Convention. The UK’s 16th Periodic Report to the Committee which the government submitted in 2002 trumpeted “the most radical shake up of race equality issues in 25 years.”

But UK NGOs have expressed concerns over the report.

The 1990 Trust together with a coalition of NGOs interested in human rights and race equality, have complied a shadow report detailing the state of play from their perspective.

The NGO Shadow Report aims to provide supplemental information to CERD. It is critical but constructive. The NGOs challenge the government report but also provide far-reaching recommendations for the areas of Social Inclusion, the Criminal Justice System, Racial Attacks and Harassment, as well as Immigration and Asylum Policy.

Most notably Karen Chouhan, Director of the 1990 Trust, draws particular attention to:

  • The introduction of the draconian Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, in particular Section 55, which has prevented further access to services for those seeking asylum. The issue of immigration and asylum has become a race issue and is confirmed by a recent MORI1 survey which found that more than a third of those questioned admitted negative feelings towards these groups and a further 18 per cent admitted prejudice against people from ethnic minorities.
  • The inadequate mechanisms to ensure a balance against the propaganda of racist ideas especially in relation to dialogue around immigration and asylum issues.
  • The persistent failure of the criminal justice system to tackle racial discrimination in relation to stop and search, and the prosecution of officers involved in deaths in custody. Recommendations are also made to deal with the unacceptable time lapse in providing adequate information to the bereaved families.
  • Gypsy and Travellers – a third of Britain’s nomadic population is officially homeless – living often without access to adequate schooling, sanitation or healthcare. In all areas of public services there needs to be careful attention paid to the specific needs of Gypsy / Traveller children. This is especially true for example in the provision of health care and the keeping of health records and in Education.

The NGO shadow report also highlights concerns around the continuing disparities in employment rates; the availability of adequate, affordable, and safe housing; as well as disparities in health initiatives for Black and Minority Ethnic communities.

To obtain copies of the NGO Shadow Report:

Download as Pdf document. (Requires software such as adobe acrobat)

Joint submission by NGOs to the UN Committee for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) with regard to the UK Governments Sixteenth Periodic review.

Alternatively contact:

Audrey Adams at the 1990 Trust, Room 12 Winchester House, 9 Cranmer Road, London, SW9 6EJ; Tel: + (44) (0) 20 7582 1990; email: aadams@blink.org.uk

 

NGO Delegation:

Audrey Adams (1990 Trust); Anne Bagehot (the Gypsy Council; Karen Chouhan (1990 Trust); Maxie Hayles (Birmingham Racial Attacks Monitoring Unit); Sarah Isal (the Runnymede Trust); Gay Moon (JUSTICE); Bushra Razaq (Liberty); Charles Smith (the Gypsy Council); Pauline Walcott (CAB – Black Workers Group); George Wilson (the Gypsy Council); Karima Zahi (Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities).

Other Delegates

Lee Jasper (Greater London Authority / Chair Operation Black Vote); Nazia Latif (Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission); Clifford Codona (Observer); Jane Codona (Observer); Robin Allen (Observer).

UK Government Delegation

The government will be represented by representatives of the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Bruce Gill (Head of Race Equality) will head the Home Office delegation

Henry Steel will head the Foreign and Commonwealth Office delegation.

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Links:

Minority Rights Group

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Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

Charter 88

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Birmingham Race Action Partnership

Know Your Rights

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Amnesty International

European Network Against Racism (ENAR)

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