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UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination publishes findings on Argentina, Niger, Philippines, Portugal, Russia and Tajikistan

28 April 2023

GENEVA (28 April 2023) - The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on Friday issued findings on Argentina, Niger, the Philippines, Portugal, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan after reviewing the six States parties in its latest session.

The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as positive aspects. Key highlights include:

Argentina

The Committee expressed concern about the alleged police violence, including cases resulting in the death of victims, which has disproportionate impacts on indigenous peoples, people of African descent and migrants concerning evictions, peaceful protests and operations against street commerce. It also raised concern about racial profiling by police forces and other law enforcement officials. The Committee recommended that Argentina take measures to prevent police violence and adopt legislation to explicitly prohibit racial profiling. It also called on the State party to ensure that all police violence and racial profiling cases are investigated, that those responsible are punished and that victims are provided with adequate reparations.

Regarding indigenous peoples, the Committee was particularly concerned about the lack of legislation to effectively guarantee community lands traditionally occupied by them and the ongoing evictions. It was also concerned about the alleged abuse and sexual violence against indigenous women and girls, particularly in the north of the country, such as the case of Wichi women and girls in Salta. The Committee urged Argentina to adopt legislative and administrative measures to guarantee indigenous community’s property right and establish mechanisms for titling traditional lands. Furthermore, it asked Argentina to ensure that the legislation suspending the evictions of indigenous peoples is fully and effectively implemented.   It also called upon Argentina to adopt measures to prevent abuse and sexual violence against indigenous, Afro-descendant and migrant women and girls, as well as to investigate all violations.

Niger

Although slavery has been criminalised since 2003, the Committee remained deeply concerned about the reported persistence of slavery, the lack of information on the extent of this practice and the absence of complaints, investigations and convictions concerning such cases. The Committee urged Niger to eradicate all forms of slavery and to ensure that the penal code under elaboration appropriately criminalises the offence of slavery. It also called on the State party to ensure that all cases of slavery are investigated and prosecuted, and that victims have access to effective remedies and adequate reparation.

While noting the significant efforts made by Niger to accommodate migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, the Committee, however, was concerned about the challenges faced by migrants, particularly those in an irregular situation, whose rights, including rights to safety, adequate housing and health, are often violated. The Committee recommended that the State party continue its efforts to consolidate a migration policy that respects the human rights of migrants, by ensuring the implementation of its comprehensive migration management strategy and considering the specific needs of migrants in vulnerable situations, particularly children.

The Philippines

The Committee expressed deep concern over the reports of enforced disappearances, killings, violence, threats, intimidation, harassment, reprisals and, in particular, “red-tagging”, faced by human rights defenders and leaders of ethno-religious, ethno-linguistic, and indigenous communities. The Committee called on the Philippines to expedite the enactment of a Human Rights Defenders Bill and to adopt measures to guarantee protection, prompt and independent investigations, and prosecutions of perpetrators, coupled with training and awareness-raising campaigns on the essential work of human rights defenders and community leaders.

Concerning several anti-discrimination draft Bills pending before Congress, the Committee reiterated its previous recommendation to adopt a comprehensive law against racial discrimination. It urged the Philippines to expedite the adoption of an anti-discrimination Bill, which defines and prohibits racial discrimination in accordance with the Convention, including direct and indirect discrimination, and incorporates all other substantive provisions.

Portugal

The Committee was concerned about reports indicating that Africans and people of African descent are victims of multiple and intersectional racism and discrimination, particularly in areas such as political participation, access to employment, housing, health, education, social security, and the workplace. The Committee called upon Portugal to develop and implement special measures and policies to continue improving the living conditions, political participation and representation, as well as the socioeconomic situation of Africans and people of African descent.

The Committee was concerned that the lingering legacies of colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade and slavery continue to fuel racism, intolerance, racial stereotypes, and discrimination in Portugal, undermining the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of ethnic or racial minority groups, in particular, Africans and people of African descent. The Committee called on the State party to consider apologising for its role in the transatlantic slave trade and slavery practices in its former colonies and adopting specific legislation to address the lasting consequences of those practices, provide reparations for grave and massive atrocities committed, and non-repetition guarantees.

Russian Federation

The Committee was deeply concerned about the grave human rights violations committed during the ongoing armed conflict by the Russian Federation’s military forces and private military companies against those protected under the Convention. It was also severely disturbed by reports of incitement to racial hatred and propagation of racist stereotypes against ethnic Ukrainians, alleged forced mobilization and conscription, which have disproportionately affected ethnic minorities, including indigenous peoples. It urged the Russian Federation to immediately end the forced mobilization and conscription both within the Federation and on other territories under its effective control, provide compensation, rehabilitation to victims and guarantees of non-repetition. It called upon the State party to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed during the ongoing armed conflict with Ukraine and other armed conflicts in which the State party is or has been involved. It also asked the State party to monitor and combat racist hate speech, racial hatred and discrimination.

Regarding the overly broad and vague definition of “extremist activity” included in the legislative framework on countering extremism, the Committee was deeply concerned that such an unclear definition endangers the legitimate exercise of rights to freedom of expression and association and is applied to target against operations and activities of civil society organizations, journalists and human rights defenders. The Committee called upon the Russian Federation to review the Law on Combating Extremist Activities and articles 280 and 282 of the Criminal Code to establish a precise definition of “extremist activity” and to ensure that the legislative framework on countering extremism is not used to intimidate, arrest, or prosecute journalists, human rights defenders or civil society members, including those working on the rights of ethnic minorities, Roma, indigenous peoples, and non-citizens.

Tajikistan

The Committee raised alarm over the tensions in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) with reports of the use of lethal and excessive force against protesters in the region, followed by prolonged internet shutdowns and subsequent violent attacks, arbitrary detentions, threats and harassment of the members of the Pamiri minority. It urged Tajikistan to conduct immediate, impartial and transparent investigations surrounding the events in GBAO since November 2011, in accordance with applicable international standards.

The Committee expressed deep concerns about reports that human rights defenders, civil society members and journalists belonging to ethnic minorities, as well as those advocating for their rights, are being subjected to harassment; intimidation; arbitrary detentions; closed, unfair trials; and imprisonment. It called upon the State party to carry out effective, thorough, and impartial investigations into all reported cases of arbitrary detention, intimidation and harassment of, and threats and reprisals against these groups of people defending ethnic minorities, establish accountability for perpetrators and provide remedies to the victims.

The above findings, officially named Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session webpage.

ENDS

For more information and media requests in Geneva, please contact:

Vivian Kwok at [email protected]  or
UN Human Rights Office Media Section at [email protected]

Background

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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