GENEVA (3 May 2021) —The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has issued its findings on Belgium, which it examined during its latest session.
CERD, composed of 18 independent experts, welcomed a number of legislative and policy measures taken by Belgium, including reforms to the Social Criminal Code and the Royal Decree in recent years to prevent racial discrimination in the workplace.
The experts, however, were concerned about a number of issues, including police-related racial violence – reports of an increase of police violence during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent anti-racism demonstrations, persistent racial profiling and hate speech. It also addressed the situation of Roma communities and migrants. The Committee, accordingly, made a series of recommendations.
CERD recommended that Belgium take measures to ensure prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into all allegations of racist incidents caused by or involving the police. It also called for ethnic diversity within the police force.
The Committee urged the State party to intensify efforts to combat effectively any practice of racial profiling by law enforcement officials. It recommended that Belgium legislate an explicit prohibition of racial profiling, and establish an independent system for dealing with complaints related to racial profiling.
CERD called for firm action to combat racially motivated crimes and hate speech to protect groups most at risk of racial discrimination, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It recommended that Belgium ensure racist hate crime and hate speech are thoroughly investigated and perpetrators are appropriately prosecuted. The Committee emphasized the importance of continuous efforts to monitor the spread of racist hate speech on the Internet and social media.
The Committee’s findings on Belgium, officially known as Concluding Observations, are now available online in French on the session website.
CERD is due to hold its next session between 4 and 26 August.
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The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination monitors States parties’ adherence to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which, to date has 182 States parties. The Committee is made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.
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