GENEVA (13 December 2019) — The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has published its findings on the countries it examined during its latest session from 25 November to 13 December: Cambodia, Colombia, Ireland, Israel and Uzbekistan.
The above countries are among the 182 States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and are required to undergo regular reviews by the Committee of 18 independent international experts. The findings, officially termed concluding observations, contain positive aspects of the respective State's implementation of the Convention, as well as main matters of concern and recommendations. The findings are now available online on the session webpage. Some key findings include:
Cambodia: The Committee is concerned about the situation of ethnic Vietnamese, Khmer Krom and indigenous peoples in Cambodia, and recommends that the State make efforts to raise awareness of issues of racism and racial discrimination. It also highlighted reports of intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders, including indigenous leaders, who have sought to exercise their rights to their communal lands.
Colombia: The Committee is concerned about persistent structural discrimination against persons belonging to indigenous and Afro-descendent communities. In particular, it is worried about ongoing acts of violence, threats, killings, intimidation and reprisals against their leaders and human rights defenders, as well as the granting of licences for investment activities and mining projects conducted in the absence of their prior, free and informed consent.
Ireland: The Committee found that the Equal Status Act and Employment Equality Acts contain shortcomings in effectively combatting racial discrimination, and that legislation on racist hate speech and hate crimes need to be strengthened to better protect Afro-Descendants and Roma communities. It also raised concerns about the functioning of direct provision centres for asylum-seekers, and recommended that Ireland enhance its regulation and monitoring of these institutions.
Israel: The Committee is worried about existing discriminatory legislation, the segregation of Israeli society into Jewish and non-Jewish sectors, and the tide of racist public hate speech targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinians residing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and migrants and asylum-seekers of African origin. It also raised questions about the recently adopted Basic Law Israel – the National State of the Jewish people, which it found particularly concerning due to its discriminatory effect on minority groups.
Uzbekistan: The Committee recommended that Uzbekistan adopt legislation prohibiting racial discrimination which fully incorporates the definition of racial discrimination, as well as establish a normative framework on the rights of ethnic minorities, including Luli/Roma and Karakalpak communities. It also noted with concern that racist motive has not been incorporated yet as an aggravating circumstance for all crimes.
In other matters discussed during the session, the Committee decided that it has jurisdiction regarding the inter-State communication submitted by the State of Palestine on 23 April 2018 against the State of Israel. This is the third decision ever adopted by the Committee regarding inter-State communications. A dissenting individual opinion of five committee experts was attached to the Committee's decision. The decision will be posted online at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CERD/Pages/InterstateCommunications.aspx.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will next meet from 20 April to 08 May 2020 to review the following countries: Denmark, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, Singapore, and Switzerland. More information is available at the webpage for the upcoming 101th session.
The Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination monitors States parties' adherence to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. 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. The Committee's concluding observations are an independent assessment of States' compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty.
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