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Counter-terrorism measures are exacerbating racism and xenophobia, UN rights expert warns

NEW YORK (31 October 2017) – States must do more to combat racism, Islamophobia and discrimination which are worsening amid the ongoing terrorism threat and are in some cases being fuelled by anti-terror policies, according to a United Nations Special Rapporteur.

Mutuma Ruteere told the General Assembly in New York that hate speech and security measures were fuelling racism, xenophobia and discrimination based on people’s ethnic origin, migration status or religion, in the current context of anti-terrorism measures and legislation.

“The surge in terrorist attacks in recent times has prompted States in various regions of the world to adopt a variety of counter-terrorism measures,” said Mr. Ruteere, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism in a new report.

“However, in many countries, these measures have provoked concern over human rights protection. I have also witnessed the proliferation of anti-Muslim rhetoric and the rise of right-wing extremist parties.

“Meanwhile counter-terrorism policies have disproportionately affected people from certain countries, considerably restricting their freedom of movement. Several countries have amended legislation to make it easier to strip citizens of their nationalities if they are suspected of terrorist-related activities,” he noted.

Mr. Ruteere said addressing economic inequalities was key to meeting the challenge of countering terrorism without fuelling racism, xenophobia and discrimination.

“I have noticed that populist parties have gained support by capitalizing on constituents’ concerns over the financial burdens of migration and their belief that migrants engage in crime, take jobs away from nationals, pose a threat to national identity or have religious practices that are incompatible with modern societies,” the expert explained.

The Special Rapporteur highlighted examples of good practices for States and other parties to follow, including legal, policy and institutional measures that have been adapted to combat racism, xenophobia and discrimination in the context of countering terrorism.

The Special Rapporteur also presented a report on combating the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The report is based on contributions from 10 States as well as from non-governmental and other organizations.

ENDS

Mr. Mutuma Ruteere (Kenya) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in November 2011.

As a Special Rapporteur, he is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work. 

For further information and media requests, please contact:
In New York: Kellie Ognimba (+1-917-367-5348 / ognimba@un.org ) or Nenad Vasic (+1-212-96-35998 / vasic@un.org )
In Geneva: Thierry del Prado (+41 22 917 92 32 / tdelprado@ohchr.org) or Karin Hechenleitner Schacht (+41 22 917 9408 / khechenleitner@ohchr.org )

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Bryan Wilson – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org

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