ECRI calls for timely action against political parties that promote racism

Strasbourg, 10.07.2014 – The Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its annual report, calling for timely action against extremist organisations that promote racism to avoid an escalation of violence and related criminal activities.

ECRI noted a surge in support for aggressive nationalist and populist xenophobic parties and the persistence of fascist World War II nostalgia in several member states.
The report, which examines the main trends in 2013, says that more needs to be done to communicate a positive image and the advantages of a diverse society and urged countries to adopt national action plans to fight racism and discrimination.

In certain cases, the report notes, the failure of the police to discharge their obligations in full respect of human rights and the rule of law resulted in increased levels of xenophobia. ECRI calls for prompt and effective action to contain racist aggression but at the same time warns the authorities to be careful not to feed the spiral of violence.
Although 2013 was another year of tragedy in the Mediterranean, asylum policies have become more restrictive in some countries and drastic measures – including border fences – have been taken to keep migrants out. Refugees have been subject to hate campaigns.

“ECRI urges European governments to ensure that all persons in their territory can access basic human rights regardless of their immigration status,” said ECRI’s Chair Christian Ahlund. “We are asking them to establish mechanisms whereby irregular migrants are able to report abuses freely,” he stated.
ECRI notes that hate speech continues to be a major problem across Europe and will look carefully at measures taken by member states to deal with the phenomenon, includingforms of expression that should be criminalised, and other kinds of intolerant and inflammatory discourse targeting vulnerable groups, such as Roma, migrants, Muslims and Jews.

Both EU and non-EU member states have adopted National Roma Integration Strategies. Now they need to focus efforts on implementation based on concrete action plans with sufficient budgetary resources and the involvement of regional and local authorities.

The Annual Report recalls that ECRI is now monitoring hate speech and violence against LGBT people and reporting on policies to combat discrimination and intolerance against these groups.

ECRI’s Chair, finally, stressed the need for action against racist abuse in sport, such as campaigns featuring some of the great stars of the World Cup in Brazil.

The full report is available here.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

For more information on ECRI: www.coe.int/ecri

Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28, stefano.valenti@coe.int