COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Committee considered the fourteenth periodic report of Belarus
(CERD/C/299/Add.8), at its 1192nd and 1193rd meetings (CERD/C/SR.1192
and 1993), held on 6 and 7 March 1997. At its 1210th meeting,
held on 19 March 1997, it adopted the following concluding observations.
Committee welcomes the timely submission of the State party's
fourteenth periodic report, and expresses its satisfaction to
the high-level delegation for the additional information provided
in answer to the questions raised by members of the Committee
during the discussion. The Committee notes with appreciation that
the report follows the recommendations contained in its previous
concluding observations (A/50/18, paras. 339-352), although it
regrets that the report fails to provide information on the implementation
of the provisions of the Convention in practice, including judicial
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of
present situation in the country, with the profound economic and
social changes induced by the dissolution of the former Soviet
Union and the massive inflow of immigrants and asylum-seekers,
are not conducive to the full implementation of the Convention.
C. Positive aspects
withdrawal by the State party of its reservation to article 22
of the Convention is welcomed. The notification that the Government
is considering making the declaration under article 14 and ratifying
the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention is
noted with appreciation by the Committee.
establishment of a Coordinating Council for National Minorities
within the Council of Ministers, the setting up of a State committee
on religious and national questions and the forthcoming establishment
of an Ombudsman's Office are welcomed by the Committee.
signature by the State party of the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) Convention concerning the Rights of Persons Belonging
to National Minorities in 1994 and of the CIS Convention on Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in 1995 is noted with interest.
The fact that the latter contains provisions prohibiting racial
discrimination and incorporates a monitoring procedure which will
be competent to receive complaints from individuals is viewed
by the Committee as a positive measure, although further examination
may be needed as to the relationship of these conventions to the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
detailed information provided in the report on the ethnic composition
of the population involving national, ethnic, cultural, linguistic
and religious minorities in Belarus is welcomed.
adoption of an Act on Refugees in 1995, which takes into account
the provisions of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of
Refugees, is welcomed. In this regard, it is noted that bilateral
agreements have been concluded between Belarus and neighbouring
countries to regulate migratory movements, and that agreements
have also been concluded with the CIS in the framework of assistance
to refugees and displaced persons.
is noted with appreciation that various legislative acts have
been adopted to comply with the provisions of article 4 of the
Convention, such as the Act on the Press and Other Mass Media,
which prohibits the use of mass media to incite national, social,
racial or religious intolerance or discord; the Act on Political
Parties, which prohibits the establishment and activities of parties
whose aim is to carry out propaganda for national, religious or
racial enmity; and the Act on Public Associations, which prohibits
the establishment of public associations which incite national,
religious or racial enmity.
respect to article 7 of the Convention, it is noted with satisfaction
that the teaching of the purposes and principles of the Charter
of the United Nations, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and of the principal international human rights instruments, including
the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination, is part of school curricula in Belarus.
Moreover, the development, in cooperation with the United Nations
Development Programme, of the "democracy, public administration
and participation" project, in the framework of which training
in the field of human rights of jurists, law enforcement officials,
teachers and educators is envisaged, is welcomed by the Committee.
D. Principal subjects of concern
lack of concrete information concerning the implementation of
various laws relating to protection against racial discrimination,
in particular the Act on Refugees, the Act on National Minorities,
the Act on Public Association, or the Act on the Press and Other
Mass Media, is noted with regret, given that it hampers the effective
assessment of the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.
is expressed at the lack of specific legislative provisions prohibiting
racial discrimination by private groups or associations. In this
regard, it is stressed that article 2, paragraph 1 (d), of the
Convention makes it an obligation for States parties to prohibit,
including by the adoption of legislation, racial discrimination
"by any persons, groups or organizations".
respect to article 5 of the Convention, the lack of information
on the participation in public life of ethnic minorities and on
their economic and social situation (especially with regard to
access to employment, health, education and housing) is regretted,
especially since this makes it difficult to evaluate the effective
enjoyment by all such groups of the rights mentioned in article
5 of the Convention.
is regretted that it has not been made clear whether the Act on
the Judicial System and the Status of Judges in the Republic of
Belarus (1995), under which the courts are required to protect
social, economic and political rights and freedoms of individuals
- regardless of their origin, race, nationality or language -
provides for the right to seek just and adequate reparation or
satisfaction for any damage suffered as a result of racial discrimination,
as provided for by article 6 of the Convention.
connection with article 6 of the Convention, it is noted that
no cases of criminal proceedings for racial discrimination in
general, and for offences under article 71 of the Criminal Code
in particular, have been recorded so far.
respect to article 7 of the Convention, the lack of information
on programmes for the training of magistrates, law enforcement
officials, teachers and social workers, aimed at raising their
awareness of problems related to racial discrimination, is regretted.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
Committee recommends that information on the implementation in
practice of the laws relating to the prevention and elimination
of racial discrimination be included in the next periodic report.
In particular, the mention of any relevant court cases will be
connection with the activities of the recently established State
Committee on Religious and National Questions, the Committee draws
the attention of the State party to its General Recommendation
XVII (42) on the establishment of national institutions to facilitate
the implementation of the Convention.
Committee recommends that specific legislation be adopted to prohibit
racial discrimination by private groups or organizations, in accordance
with article 2, paragraph 1 (d), of the Convention.
Committee recommends that comprehensive information be provided
by the State party in its next periodic report on the effective
enjoyment by all groups of the rights under article 5 of the Convention,
in particular concerning participation in public life under article
5 (c) and enjoyment of the economic, social and cultural rights
under article 5 (e). For this purpose the Committee recommends
that national or ethnic minority associations in the State party
be consulted on their experiences regarding these matters.
connection with article 6 of the Convention, the Committee requests
that information be provided on the availability of the right
to seek from the courts just and adequate reparation or satisfaction
for any damage suffered as a result of racial discrimination.
The Committee recommends that instances of cases where reparation
was sought from the courts, together with the courts' decisions
thereon, be provided in the next report.
Committee further recommends that the State party furnish a reply
to the question about the reason for the absence of prosecutions
relating to racial discrimination offences, so as to assess whether
this is due to the actual non-existence of such offences, or to
a lack of awareness of the population of their rights, or to a
lack of effective enforcement of the relevant laws by the competent
Committee also recommends that due attention be paid to the availability
of education in the Belarusian language for all students who desire
to study in this language.
the framework of article 7 of the Convention, the Committee recommends
that training concerning the principles and rights enshrined in
the Convention be provided to law enforcement officials, judicial
personnel, teachers and social workers. Similarly, the Committee
recommends that the State party continue its efforts to incorporate
the principles of the Convention in school curricula at all levels.
it welcomes the publication of the report, the Committee recommends
that the fourteenth periodic report of the State party, as well
as the present concluding observations, be widely disseminated
among the public at large.
Committee recommends that the State party ratify the amendments
to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention adopted at the fourteenth
meeting of States parties.