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Press Release – 13.11.2001

The Commission against Racism publishes new reports on the Netherlands and on the Russian Federation

STRASBOURG, 13.11.2001 – The Council of Europe’s expert body on combating racism, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), today released two new reports examining racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in the Netherlands and the Russian Federation.

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 two countries positive developments have occurred. At the same time, the reports detail ECRI’s continuing grounds for concern. These include :

In the Netherlands, the labour market is one of the areas where discrimination still appears to be most widespread. The effectiveness of existing criminal law aimed at combating racism and discrimination is limited, notably due to difficulties in the enforcement of the relevant provisions. Of concern is also the general climate concerning asylum seekers and immigrants, sometimes resulting in manifestation of hostility vis--vis these groups of persons.

In the Russian Federation, problems of racism, xenophobia and discrimination persist and concern notably -- although not exclusively -- Chechens and other persons from the North Caucasus, persons from Central Asia, refugees and members of the Jewish community. These problems are in part linked to the difficulties encountered in ensuring that federal legislation and policies are applied at the regional and local levels. An illustration of this is the discrimination originating from the system of registration of residence and temporary stay and its enforcement procedure, an issue of particular concern to ECRI. The behaviour – of what seems to be a significant scale -- of law enforcement officials vis--vis members of certain minority groups is also cause for serious concern. Concern is also expressed at the unsatisfactory implementation of existing law provisions against racial violence and hate speech, these phenomena being in part connected to the presence of extremist groups and political parties and to the exploitation of social prejudice.