European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Press Release – 20.03.1998

International Day against Racism – ECRI publishes reports on six countries

STRASBOURG, 20.03.98 - On 21 March, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the COUNCIL OF EUROPE's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) will publish its second series of national reports on combating racism.

The Council of Europe gives high priority to action against racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance across Europe. The rejection of racism and fighting it in all its forms are part of the action to promote and protect basic human rights. The organisation's key body in this area is ECRI, set up in March 1994. The Summit of Heads of State and Government of the 40 member countries held in Strasbourg in October 1997 called for stepping up ECRI's activities.

1n this 50th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaimed that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights", ECRI will renew its efforts to make this a reality throughout Europe", said today President of ECRI Nikos FRANGAKIS.

ECRI looks into the effectiveness of legal and political measures taken by member states to curb racism and intolerance, encourages action against these phenomena at local, national and European levels, studies relevant international legal instruments and ways of reinforcing them, if necessary, and makes general policy recommendations.

On 21 March, ECRI will publish its reports on six countries: Germany, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino, Slovenia and Switzerland. This is a second series, after reports on Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and Poland, were published in September 1997.

In its national reports ECRI examines the Council of Europe member states' implementation of legislation and policies against racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance. Publishing the reports is the starting point for an active ongoing dialogue between ECRI and the authorities of member states, designed to identify ways of solving the problems of racism and intolerance confronting Europe.

The day of 21 March commemorates the deaths of a group of people demonstrating against apartheid in the South African town of Sharpeville in 1960. In 1966 the United Nations proclaimed it International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.