The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published conclusions on the implementation of its priority recommendations made to Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland and Luxembourg in 2017.
Andorra has fully implemented both of the priority recommendations made by ECRI. Notably, by broadening the terms of reference of the Ombudsman in February 2017, the authorities of Andorra have ensured the existence of an equality body with the capacity to combat racism and intolerance at national level in the public and private sectors.
The second priority recommendation by ECRI to Andorra was to introduce into the law the principle of sharing the burden of proof where discrimination complaints on grounds of “race”, colour, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, language, gender identity and sexual orientation are brought before the civil or administrative courts. This was successfully done in the Law on Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination approved by Parliament in February 2019.
As regards Bosnia and Herzegovina, ECRI recommended strengthening the institutional capacity of the Ombudsman Institution to empower it to carry out its anti-discrimination mandate effectively, ensuring adequate increase in funding and maintaining its full financial independence from the government. Although ECRI recognises that some efforts have been made by the authorities to address existing shortcomings, it considers that the recommendation has so far only been partially implemented.
The second priority recommendation concerned the urgent need to end all forms of segregation in schools, including “two schools under one roof” and monoethnic schools, to apply and further develop the common core curriculum, to ensure inclusive and non-discriminatory learning environments in all schools and the removal of any symbols that represent an ethnic or religious bias. Despite the persistence of the problem, also acknowledged by the authorities, ECRI has not received any information indicating that steps have been taken to end all forms of segregation in schools. In the context of Bosnia and Herzegovina where education falls within the decision-making powers of the two entities, “it is disappointing to see that the authorities at all levels have failed to make progress in an area of such crucial importance for building an inclusive society and overcoming the deeply entrenched ethnic divisions in the country”, ECRI said. It considers that this recommendation has not been implemented.
Iceland has partially implemented the recommendation to enact comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. The enactment of two bills on equal treatment in the labour market and on equal treatment irrespective of racial and ethnic origin is a positive step. However, neither of the bills includes the protected ground of nationality, and other gaps in protection against discrimination remain.
The second priority recommendation for Iceland was to bring integration measures and services for refugees from the asylum system to similar levels as for quota refugees. In 2019 the government approved a strategy to coordinate the reception and integration of all refugees. ECRI concludes that its recommendation on the matter is fully implemented and commends the Icelandic authorities for this important development which treats all refugees on an equal footing, deals specifically with housing, employment and Icelandic language classes.
The authorities of Luxembourg have fully implemented both priority recommendations made by ECRI in 2017. ECRI specifically recommended that the Luxembourg authorities quickly adopt a new national integration action plan and provide it with an appropriate budget. ECRI was pleased to note that such an action plan was adopted in July 2018 and that projects aimed at implementing it were to start in 2019.
The second priority recommendation to Luxembourg was to adopt, as soon as possible, a law on name changes and gender recognition for transgender persons. A new bill to this effect entered into force in September 2018, enabling intersex and transgender persons to submit an administrative request to the Minister of Justice, asking for their gender and first name(s) to be amended in public records and official documents. ECRI welcomes the enactment of this new legislation, which no longer requires any prior medical intervention, and considers that this recommendation has been fully implemented.
These conclusions are based on government responses and information gathered from other sources. They concern only the priority recommendations and do not aim at providing a comprehensive analysis of all developments in the fight against racism and intolerance in the countries concerned.