COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
4-22 March 2002
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination*
1. The Committee considered the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth
periodic reports of Belgium (CERD/C/381/Add.1), which were due on
6 September 1996, 1998 and 2000 respectively, at its 1509th and
1510th meetings, held on 13 and 14 March 2002 (CERD/C/SR.1509 and
1510). At its 1520th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1520), held on 21 March
2002, it adopted the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes the detailed reports submitted by the
State party, while regretting the late submission of the eleventh
and twelfth periodic reports. The Committee was encouraged by the
attendance of a delegation composed of representatives of many government
departments at the federal, community and regional levels, and expresses
its appreciation for the constructive oral responses of the delegation
to the questions asked.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes recent developments that have taken place
in the State party in the field of human rights. It notes, in particular
the enactment of new laws and the ratification of a number of international
treaties, such as the Convention against Torture and other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Optional Protocol
to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children,
child prostitution and child pornography and the Rome Statute of
the International Criminal Court.
4. The Committee welcomes the declaration made by the State party
under article 14 of the Convention.
5. With regard to article 4 of the Convention the Committee notes
with appreciation the State party's efforts in the field of legislative
reform, especially the amendment to article 150 of the Constitution,
which transfers jurisdiction over acts motivated by racism and xenophobia
committed through the media to lower instance criminal courts. It
also welcomes the imposition of financial sanctions on anti-democratic
political parties that disseminate racism and xenophobia.
6. The Committee notes with appreciation the work of the Centre
for Equal Opportunity and the Struggle against Racism, and in particular
the agreement reached between the postal authorities and the Centre
with a view to preventing the distribution of material containing
racist propaganda and xenophobic statements.
7. The Committee notes measures taken by the State party to counter
the dissemination of racist statements on the Internet.
8. The Committee welcomes the measures taken by the State party
to raise awareness of racism and racial discrimination, in particular
in the army and among criminal justice officials. It also welcomes
the measures taken to limit the information given by the judicial
and police authorities to the press regarding the ethnic origin
and the nationality of the alleged offenders.
9. The Committee also welcomes the election of a body representing
the Muslim communities with a view to maintaining and developing
dialogue with the public authorities in Belgium.
10. With regard to article 5 of the Convention, the Committee takes
note of measures in Flanders forbidding discrimination, including
on racial or ethnic grounds, in collective labour agreements, and
of measures facilitating the education of migrant children. The
Committee also takes note of measures in the Walloon region for
the education of children of illegal migrants and for the study
by migrant children of their mother tongue on the basis of bilateral
agreements with their country of origin.
C. Concerns and recommendations
11. The Committee notes that the primacy of the provisions of the
Convention over internal laws depends on the evaluation by the judge
as to whether such provisions are directly applicable. It recommends
that the State party include in its next periodic report specific
information on the status of the Convention in domestic law and
on court cases, if any, in which the Convention was invoked.
12. The Committee notes that a draft general law on racial discrimination
is under consideration by the Parliament and encourages the State
party to adopt it as soon as possible.
13. The Committee notes that no reference is made in the report
to article 3 of the Convention. The Committee recommends that the
State party provide in its next periodic report relevant information
on any trend towards segregation of communities, especially in large
cities, and measures taken by the authorities to prevent such developments.
14. The Committee is concerned that there is no legislation prohibiting
racist organizations and propaganda activities. It is also concerned
about the increasing influence of xenophobic ideology on political
parties, especially in Flanders. In this context, the Committee
requests the State party to give more information on the application
of the 1998 law on withdrawing financial support to political parties
that incite racism or racial hostility, or disseminate racial propaganda.
Taking into account the mandatory nature of article 4 of the Convention,
the Committee also recommends that the State party enact legislation
that declares illegal and prohibits any organization which promotes
or incites to racism and racial discrimination and consider withdrawing
its reservation to this article. In this context, the Committee
draws the attention of the State party to its general recommendation
15. The Committee expresses concern about reports according to which
the legal provisions designed to prosecute and punish acts of racism
and racial discrimination are not applied. It also expresses concern
at the length of procedures for the investigation of complaints
by victims of racial discrimination. The Committee recommends that
the State party ensure that all acts of racism and racial discrimination
are investigated and that the alleged perpetrators, if found guilty,
16. Concern was also expressed about several cases of racist incidents
in police stations involving law enforcement officials, where the
victims were immigrants and asylum-seekers. The Committee is also
concerned about reports that children belonging to ethnic minority
groups have experienced verbal violence. The Committee recommends
that the State party take all necessary measures to prosecute racially
motivated acts of violence by law enforcement officials and to prevent
such verbal offences against members of minority groups, and continue
its efforts to promote intercultural tolerance, understanding and
17. With regard to the amendment to article 150 of the Constitution,
the Committee requests the State party to provide detailed information
in its next periodic report on the number of cases brought before
the Belgian courts and the decisions taken with regard to acts of
racism, racial discrimination or incitement to racial hostility,
in which the media, especially the press, were involved.
18. The Committee is concerned about the difficulties of access
to employment and housing of members of ethnic minorities. The Committee
recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to facilitate
the occupational integration, in both the public and private sectors,
and the access to housing, of persons belonging to ethnic minorities.
The Committee recommends that the State party provide in its next
periodic report information on the situation in all regions of the
State party, including on complaints of racial discrimination and
on redress, if any, provided to the victims.
19. While noting the positive efforts undertaken by the State party
in the field of education against racial discrimination, the Committee
expresses concern about the absence or insufficiency of educational
measures for some professional groups, such as judges, prosecutors,
lawyers and civil servants. The Committee recommends that the State
party give full effect to the provisions of article 7 of the Convention
by adopting effective measures, particularly in the fields of education
and training, in order to prevent racial discrimination.
20. While noting the satisfactory measures taken in the State party,
especially by the Centre for Equal Opportunity and the Struggle
against Racism, following the events of 11 September 2001 in the
United States, in order to promote tolerance between religious communities,
the Committee regrets occurrences of racial acts against persons
belonging to ethnic minorities, especially those of the Muslim faith.
The Committee recommends that the State party include in its next
periodic report detailed information on the development of the situation
and measures taken in this field.
21. The Committee recommends that the State party include in its
next periodic report detailed information on the work of the Centre,
the number of complaints received, as well as the outcome of cases
brought before the courts.
22. Noting the responsibility of the Federal State for the implementation
of the Convention, the Committee recommends that the State party
provide in its next periodic report detailed information on the
demographic composition of the population and socio-economic data
disaggregated by gender and national and ethnic group for all its
regions and communities.
23. The Committee recommends that the State party take into
account the relevant parts of the Durban Declaration and Programme
of Action when implementing the Convention in the domestic legal
order, in particular in respect of articles 2 to 7 of the Convention,
and that it include in its next periodic report information on action
plans or other measures taken to implement the Durban Declaration
and Programme of Action at national level.
24. The Committee reiterates its appeal to the State party to ratify
the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted
on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to
the Convention and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution
25. The Committee recommends that the State party's reports be made
readily available to the public from the time they are submitted
and that the Committee's concluding observations on them be similarly
26. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its fourteenth
periodic report jointly with its fifteenth periodic report, due
on 6 September 2004, that it be an updating report, and that it
address the points raised in the present concluding observations.
* Please note that the symbol CERD/C/Session No./CO/... will from
now on replace the previous symbol CERD/C/304/Add...