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Press Release – 08.06.2004

Council of Europe reports on racism in the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece and Hungary

Strasbourg, 08.06.2004 – The Council of Europe’s expert body on combating racism, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), today released four new reports examining racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance in the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece and Hungary. ECRI recognises that positive developments have occurred in all four of these Council of Europe member countries. At the same time, however, the reports detail continuing grounds for concern for the Commission:

In the Czech Republic, there have been few noticeable improvements in the situation of Roma, whose marginalisation from mainstream society continues through their “ghettoisation” in substandard housing complexes on the outskirts of cities. Racially motivated violence and ill-treatment of Roma by the police continue to be problems of concern. ECRI also raises a number of issues with regard to asylum seekers and migrants, such as the worrying detention of children.

In Germany, racist, xenophobic and antisemitic violence continues to be a matter of concern to ECRI, particularly affecting asylum seekers, members of the Jewish communities, Roma and Sinti. Further efforts are needed to ensure that non-citizens and people of immigrant background enjoy genuinely equal opportunities in all fields of public life. Progress is still needed in recognising the positive role of immigration, as partly reflected by the stigmatisation of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees in public debate.

In Greece, there remain stereotypes, prejudices and incidences of discrimination targeting members of minority groups, particularly the Roma community and minority religious groups, as well as immigrants. The position of the Muslim minority in Western Thrace should improve further. The situation of immigrants is far from being completely regulated, and there is still no comprehensive, targeted integration policy on immigration.

In Hungary, the progress made in dealing with the problems of racism, intolerance and discrimination remains limited in a number of respects. The Roma minority remains severely disadvantaged in most areas of life, particularly in the fields of health care, housing, employment and education. Some shortcomings in law and practice concerning the rights of refugees and asylum seekers have been identified. Moreover, initiatives taken at national level to combat racism and discrimination do not always successfully filter down to local level.

These new reports form part of a third monitoring cycle of Council of Europe member states’ laws, policies and practices aimed at combating racism. ECRI’s country-specific reports are available in English, French and in the national language of the country concerned at www.coe.int/ecri. They cover all member states on an equal footing, from the perspective of protecting human rights. They examine whether ECRI’s main recommendations from previous reports have been followed and, if so, to what degree of success and effectiveness.