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Monday 5 September 2011


United Kingdom

After reviewing the combined eighteenth through twentieth reports of the United Kingdom, the Committee welcomed the notable efforts made by the State party to tackle racial discrimination and inequality and acknowledged that it had made important progress in this regard. It also welcomed the enactment of the Equality Act of 2010 as a landmark improvement in anti- discrimination legislation and noted with appreciation the establishment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission under the Equality Act of 2006. The Committee also noted with appreciation the adoption of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006 and the launch of the Cross-Government Hate Crime Action Plan on 14 September 2009.

While the underlying causes of the riots and acts of vandalism that took place in the State party in August 2011 were yet to be known fully ascertained, the Committee noted that there were racial undertones to the situation which should not be ignored. The Committee recommended that the State party thoroughly investigate the underlying causes of the riots and acts of vandalism, and that it provide the Committee with information on the outcome of its investigations as soon as possible. The State party should ensure that any policy responses were forward-looking and promoted ethnic equality and cohesion in the State party. The Committee noted that the State party maintained its position that there was no obligation for States parties to make the Convention as such part of their domestic legal order and that the law and practice of the State party fully respected and implemented all the provisions of the Convention. The Committee requested the State party to further reconsider its position so that the Convention could more readily be invoked in the domestic courts of the State party. The Committee was concerned at reports of increasing virulent attacks and negative portrayal of ethnic minorities, immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees by the media in the State party. The Committee recommended that the State party closely monitor the media with a view to combating prejudices and negative stereotypes, the unchecked expression of which may result in racial discrimination or incitement to racial hatred. The State party should adopt all necessary measures to combat racist media coverage and ensure that such cases were thoroughly investigated and, where appropriate, sanctions were imposed.

The Committee expressed particular concern at the proposed budgets cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which may have negative effects in the execution of its mandate. It recommended that any spending cuts and proposed legislative amendments to the mandate of the Equality and Human Rights Commission should ensure that it operated independently and effectively in line with the Paris Principles. The Committee regretted the increased use of “stops and searches” by the Police which disproportionately affected members of minority ethnic groups particularly persons of Asian and African descent. The Committee urged the State party to review the impact of “stop and search” powers on ethnic minority groups under various pieces of legislation in the State party and recommended that the State party ensure that all stops were properly recorded, whether or not leading to search, and that a copy of the record be provided to the person concerned for all such incidents in order to safeguard the rights of the people subject to these laws and to check possible abuse. The Committee deeply regretted the State party’s insistence to proceed immediately with the eviction of Gypsy and Traveller community at Dale Farm in Essex before identifying and providing alternative culturally appropriate housing for members of these communities. The Committee urged the State party to halt the intended eviction which would disproportionately affect the lives of families and particularly women and children and create hardship. It strongly recommended that the State party should provide alternative culturally appropriate accommodation to these communities before any evictions were carried out.

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