European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Press Release – 15.04.2003

Council of Europe: Six new reports on racism

Strasbourg, 15.04.2003 – The Council of Europe’s expert body on combating racism, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), today released six new reports examining racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance in Andorra, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Moldova and Sweden. ECRI recognises that, in all six Council of Europe member countries, positive developments have occurred. At the same time, the reports detail continuing grounds for concern for the Commission.

In Andorra, ECRI notes the absence of certain criminal, civil and administrative legal provisions in the field of combating racism and intolerance. A large number of immigrants are in a precarious situation and the period required for naturalisation of long-term residents is very long. ECRI is concerned that this situation prevents immigrants from fully integrating into the Andorran society.

In Azerbaijan, notions of racism and discrimination appear to be limited to the most extreme and severe manifestations of these phenomena, whereas their most common manifestations tend to be overlooked. However, there are persons who experience direct and indirect discrimination in daily life in Azerbaijan, including refugees, foreigners, members of minority religious groups and Armenians.

In Liechtenstein, the issue of a certain interest in right-wing extremism, particularly among young people, remains an area for concern. ECRI notes that a clear and detailed mission statement and strategy to integrate non-citizens and persons of immigrant origin into society remain fully elaborated and implemented.

In Lithuania, problems of racism and intolerance persist and are particularly acute vis--vis the members of the Roma/Gypsy community, although they also concern asylum-seekers and refugees, notably Chechens and Afghans. ECRI observes that the existing legal provisions aimed at countering manifestations of racism and racial discrimination are not always adequate to address these phenomena and are rarely applied.

In Moldova, the main difficulty lies in the need to ensure, in a peaceful manner and in the interest of avoiding future discrimination or inter-ethnic tension, the coexistence of various languages. ECRI also notes that because of continuing political and social tension, criminal, civil and administrative provisions connected with the fight against racism and racial discrimination are very difficult to implement and that the Roma/Gypsy community is especially vulnerable in this respect.

In Sweden problems of racism and intolerance persist and particularly persons of immigrant origin still find it difficult to feel fully part of Swedish society and remain partly excluded from its structures, facing discrimination and disadvantage on the labour market, in housing, access to public places such as restaurants and discotheques, in education and in other fields. The activities of extreme right-wing organisations and movements, including acts of violence and the production of white power music, remain a subject for concern, says ECRI.

The six new reports form part of a second cycle of monitoring of Council of Europe member States’ laws, policies and practices in order to combat racism. ECRI’s country-specific reports (available on the internet site in English and French) cover all member States on an equal footing, in the perspective of the protection of human rights. The second reports examine the implementation of proposals made to the governments in the previous reports; they provide a general up-date and also contain a deeper analysis of selected issues of particular concern in the relevant countries.