European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)


Press Release – 15.02.2005

Reports on racism in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and Turkey

Strasbourg, 15.02.2005 – 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 Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and Turkey. ECRI recognises that positive developments have occurred in all five of these Council of Europe member countries. At the same time, however, the reports detail continuing grounds for concern for the Commission:

In Austria, the continuing marked differentiation in law and practice between, on the one hand, Austrian and other EU citizens and, on the other, non-EU citizens, negatively affects the social and political integration of all segments of Austrian society. Racism and racial discrimination still affect the daily lives of members of minority groups, and particularly of Black Africans, Muslims and Roma. Manifestations of antisemitism also still represent an issue of concern of ECRI in Austria.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, severe problems of racism and racial (including ethnic and religious) discrimination persist, often as a result of nationalist policies pursued by ethnically based political parties. Such problems aggravate the situation of certain groups within a society which is globally affected by very difficult post-war socio-economic conditions. Problems of direct and indirect discrimination are pervasive in several areas of life and particularly in education, employment, housing and access to health services.

In France, law enforcement officials and members of the judicial service who receive complaints are not always sufficiently alert to the racist aspect of offences, and the victims are not always adequately informed or assisted when dealing with formalities. Muslims are up against an increase in racist acts and statements and access to education for children of immigrants and Travellers still needs to be improved. Antisemitism has increased alarmingly in France, notably in the school environment.

In "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", the Roma community continues to experience, on a wide scale, particularly poor living conditions and to suffer from an accumulation of economic and social disadvantage, aggravated by changing economic conditions, discrimination and insufficient attention from the authorities. ECRI also raises a number of issues relating to the situation of smaller minority groups, as well as of asylum seekers, and continuing problems in the area of citizenship.

In Turkey, despite the reforms, there are still some gaps in the constitution and in criminal, civil and administrative laws as regards action against racism and racial discrimination. There is still room for improvement in the matter of religious freedom, in particular as regards removing the reference to religion on identity cards and abolishing compulsory religious education in schools. No sanctions have been taken against intolerant expressions and acts directed at minority groups by sections of the media and members of the public and there is still no national specialised body to combat racism and intolerance.

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.