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CENTRE FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES AND THE FIGHT AGAINST RACISM
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This Centre was set up by law in 1993 with Parliament and Government backing and following proposals by the Royal Commissariat for Immigration Policy (Commissariat royal à la politique des immigrés).
Its aim is to promote equality and to combat all forms of discrimination, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, origin or nationality. The Centre is of a judicial character and carries out its functions impartially and independently. According to the law on combating discrimination of 25 February 2003, the duties of the Centre have been extended to cover other grounds of discrimination such as marital status, sexual orientation, birth, fortune, age, religion or belief, current or future state of health, a disability or other physical characteristic.
Its mandate, as set out in the law of 15 February 1993, is defined as follows:
- the law of 30 July 1981 concerning the prohibition of certain acts motivated by racism or xenophobia;
- the law of 23 March 1995 punishing the denial, minimisation, justification or approval of the genocide perpetrated by the German National Socialist Regime during the Second World War;
- the law of 25 February 2003 on combating discrimination;
The law setting up the Centre specifies that the Ministers and Secretaries of State concerned should provide the Centre with all necessary information for the fulfilment of its tasks. In addition, it can request the opinion of the Communities, Regions, local and provincial authorities and any other public body on matters relating to its tasks.
The Centre is also required to submit an annual report on its activities to the Prime Minister, who must transmit a copy to the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate in Parliament and ensure its publication.
The Centre is also responsible for producing the report presented every two years to the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the United Nations, in accordance with Article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This report summarises the legislative, judicial, administrative and other measures adopted for the fulfilment of the dispositions of this Convention.
The Centre’s main activities are listed below:
Creation of local networks
The Centre has set up a unit whose task is to establish local groups comprising all local bodies concerned (local authorities, associations, neighbourhood committees etc.). This network aims to support the actions of such associations and to encourage contacts and mutual co-operation. In order to create as wide a network as possible, the unit initiates contacts with associations involved in the fight against racism and discrimination in order to learn from their experience and local knowledge and to carry out joint ventures.
Local field offices dealing with local authorities, associations, and neighbourhood committees, have been set up to evaluate and anticipate problems at the local level.
Information service for the general public
The Centre places great importance on contacts with the general public. It has established a freephone number which provides information to the public about the 1981 Law on the suppression of racism and xenophobia and the law of 25 February 2003 on combating discrimination, answers any questions concerning these subjects and directs people to the appropriate service for help. This form of dialogue with the public also provides an important source of information for the Centre.
Monitoring the situation
On the basis of information collected through contacts with local organisations and with the public, the Centre can:
The Centre monitors the enforcement of certain legislative provisions, in particular the Law of 30 July 1981 on the suppression of racially-motivated acts and the law of 25 February 2003 on combating discrimination. It carries out studies and surveys on the effectiveness of the law and highlights any loopholes.
Mediation and legal assistance
The Centre is competent to assist associations or individuals who are victims or witnesses of racist acts or racial discrimination. Social workers and lawyers are available to give information, register complaints, analyse the situation, direct people to other services, act as mediator or consider possible legal recourse.
Awareness-raising and training
The Centre runs a project aimed at creating a dialogue and mutual understanding between the immigrant population and the personnel of law and order institutions, penitentiaries, civil servants, and firemen. The Centre also organises education programmes in schools or training centres for personnel entering these professions in close collaboration with instructors and teachers.
Tn addition the Centre organises wide ranging public awareness-raising campaigns, for example about discrimination in recruitment.
Promotion of equal opportunities
In view of the growing popularity of extremist xenophobic movements, the Centre is carrying out studies into situations of poverty and precariousness and how this relates to racist and xenophobic feelings in the community. It pays particular attention to the poorer areas of large cities.
Promoting the integration of persons of foreign origin
The Centre continues and extends the activities previously carried out by the Royal Commissariat on Immigration Policy, particularly in the fields of employment, housing, education, youth, health, the situation of immigrant women, the European dimension and co-operation and development.
Observatory on immigration policies
With regard to migration, the Centre is responsible for assessing the nature and size of migration flows and for formulating proposals for certain specific problems. Such proposals are generally based on concrete cases calling for urgent structural solutions.
Specific tasks entrusted to the Centre by the public authorities
The public authorities have entrusted the Centre with several specific tasks, for which it performs a role of co-ordination, technical assistance and follow-up, namely the co-ordination for combating international traffic in humans and the management of the “Fonds d'Impulsion” (”Impulse Fund”), an aspect of immigration policy that supports projects aimed at reinforcing the integration of persons of immigrant origin into Belgian society.
The Centre includes a documentation service specialising in the field of racism and immigration policy, which is accessible to associations, local authorities and the general public (teachers, students, researchers).
Centre for Equal Opportunities and the Fight against Racism (CECLR)
Web site: www.diversite.be