European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Fifth report on Belgium [en] - [fr] –[Dutch]

Press Release – 25.02.2014

Dutch version

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Belgium

Strasbourg, 25.02.2014 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fifth report on Belgium. ECRI’s Chair, Mr Christian Ahlund, noted steps forward, but also a number of issues, such as the problematic application of the anti-discrimination legislation in certain areas and certain questionable aspects of the integration programmes.

On the positive side, the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism will be able to work at all state levels due to an agreement between the federal authorities and the federated entities. Numerous judicial proceedings have been initiated against individuals and legal entities advocating hatred and violence. An ambitious action plan to combat homophobic and transphobic violence has been launched and legislation guarantees respect of most aspects of family and private life of LGBT persons on an equal footing with the rest of the population.

However, despite specific provisions of the law, there is no independent body competent on questions relating to discrimination on ground of language, no guidance is provided in the fields of the implementation of positive discrimination measures and no assessment of the anti-racism and anti-discrimination legislation has been carried out yet. Data on hate speech and racist violence are too fragmentary to give a clear picture of the situation in the country. Ethnic and religious groups, in particular Muslims, continue to face many disadvantages, including discrimination in key fields of life.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following two require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

  • an assessment of the application and effectiveness of the legislation against racism and intolerance should be carried out without any further delay ;
  • the process to turn the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism into an inter-federal institution should be completed as soon as possible.

The report is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Belgium in March 2013 [Press release] and takes account of developments up to 20 June 2013.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

For more information on ECRI:

Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28,