European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Press Release – 03.04.2001

The Commission against Racism publishes new reports on Albania, Austria, Denmark, “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and the United Kingdom

STRASBOURG, 03.04.2001 – 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, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in Albania, Austria, Denmark, “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and the United Kingdom.

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 43 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 Albania, issues of ethnic discrimination are not recognised as a primary concern, and thus there is little awareness concerning such issues. Negative prejudices and stereotypes exist particularly with respect to Roma/Gypsies. The widespread corruption generally recognised to be present in public institutions may also indirectly discriminate against those who do not have the necessary connections or means in order to have access to public services, basic facilities or employment. There is an acute lack of information about the situation and the number of the different minority groups living in Albania.

In Austria, racism, xenophobia and discrimination affect particularly immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, but also Austrian nationals of immigrant background. Most of the existing legal provisions aimed at combating racism and discrimination do not appear to provide for effective protection against these phenomena. Of deep concern is the use of racist and xenophobic propaganda in politics. The behaviour of the police vis--vis members of minority groups is also of special concern.

In Denmark, the prevailing climate of opinion concerning individuals of foreign background and the impact and use of xenophobic propaganda in politics are of deep concern. Discrimination, particularly in the labour market, but also in other areas, such as the housing market and in access to public places, are also of concern. People perceived to be Muslims appear to be particularly vulnerable to these phenomena. Most of the existing legal provisions aimed at combating racism and discrimination do not appear to provide effective protection.

 The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  is still a society in which the issues of discrimination and intolerance are not adequately recognised and confronted. Different ethnic communities often have limited contact with each other and their relations are strained by negative stereotypes and mistrust. Furthermore, members of minority groups do not participate fully in public institutions at all levels of society. There is little concrete information available about manifestations of racism and discrimination, which in turn means that specific measures to combat these phenomena are often lacking in various fields.

Problems of xenophobia, racism and discrimination persist in the United Kingdom and are particularly acute vis--vis asylum seekers and refugees. This is reflected in the xenophobic and intolerant coverage of these groups of persons in the media, but also in the tone of the discourse resorted to by politicians in support of the adoption and enforcement of increasingly restrictive asylum and immigration laws. Racist prejudice in the police continues to constitute an element of concern. Criminal and civil law provisions are not always effective in countering racist, xenophobic or discriminatory behaviour.