European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Press Release – 27.06.2000

Racism Commission publishes new reports on France, Greece, Norway, Poland and Slovakia

Strasbourg, 27.06.2000 - The Council of Europe’s expert body on combating racism, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), today released five new reports examining racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and related intolerance in France, Greece, Norway, Poland and Slovakia.

The reports form part of a second cycle of monitoring of member States’ laws, policies and practices to combat racism. ECRI’s country-specific reports cover all 41 member States of the Council of Europe on an equal footing, in the perspective of the protection of human rights. Compiled following a contact visit to the country in question, the second report examines the implementation of proposals made to the government in the previous report, provides a general up-date and also contains a deeper analysis of selected issues of particular concern in that country.

ECRI recognises that in all five countries positive developments have occurred. At the same time, the reports detail ECRI’s continuing grounds for concern. These include:

In France, racism and discrimination are particularly acute vis--vis young people of immigrant background. Discrimination and exclusion are identified as problems especially in employment, education, housing and access to public places. The situation regarding undocumented immigrants, including in some of France’s overseas territories, and the behaviour of some law enforcement officials, is also of concern.

Problems of racism, intolerance, discrimination and exclusion affect particularly the Roma/Gypsy population, Albanians and other immigrants, as well as members of the Muslim minority in Greece. These problems are connected to the generally low level of recognition within Greek society of its multicultural reality, an acknowledgement which is all the more urgent given the new patterns of migration to Greece in recent years.

Housing, access to employment and to services and goods are key areas in which persons belonging to minority groups face discrimination and disadvantage in Norway. A high level of voter support for populist parties using racist discourse is also a matter of concern. Despite the more multi-ethnic nature of Norwegian society today, there seems to be a certain lack of acceptance of the possibility of Norwegian identity encompassing persons of different ethnic origin or religion.

In Poland, legislation for combating racism is insufficiently implemented, and the introduction of legislative provisions dealing explicitly with national and ethnic minorities is proving slow to realise. The general attitude of society seems rather closed towards difference, and feelings of antisemitism remain pervasive. There appears to be little concrete knowledge or monitoring of the extent of racism and discrimination within society, which in turn means that specific measures to combat these phenomena are often lacking in various fields.

Real problems remain in Slovakia in the implementation of legislation to combat racism, particularly as regards the reactions of the police and prosecuting authorities to racist attacks and harassment. The extent of discrimination and overt hostility towards members of the Roma community does not seem to be fully acknowledged, and much remains to be done in all fields of life – including education, employment and housing – to redress the situation of this very vulnerable group.

ECRI’s new reports are available on the internet site in English and French. They can be obtained in the national language of the country concerned on request: