COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
31 July - 25 August 2000
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9
OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination
of Racial Discrimination
United Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland
1. The Committee considered
the fifteenth periodic report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland (CERD/C/338/Add.12 - Part I) and its Overseas Territories
(CERD/C/338/Add.12 - Part II), which was due on 6 April 1998, at its
1420th and 1421st meetings (CERD/C/SR.1420 and 1421), held on 14 August
2000. At its 1430th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1430), held on 21 August 2000,
it adopted the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes
the detailed and comprehensive reports submitted by the State party,
drafted in accordance with its guidelines for the preparation of reports,
and the additional oral information provided by the delegation in response
to the wide range of questions asked by Committee members.
3. The Committee acknowledges
that the State party has addressed some of the concerns and recommendations
of the Committee's previous concluding observations. It further welcomes
the fact that NGOs were consulted in the preparation of the report.
B. Positive aspects
4. The Committee welcomes
the recent legislative measures taken, including: the adoption of the
1998 Crime and Disorder Act, introducing higher maximum penalties for
racially motivated crimes or offences involving racial hostility; the
1998 Northern Ireland Act, establishing a new independent Human Rights
Commission for Northern Ireland; and the 1998 Human Rights Act, giving
further effect to the provisions of the European Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and due to be implemented
as of October 2000.
5. The Committee welcomes
the Action Plan developed by the Home Secretary as a follow-up to the
findings of the independent judicial inquiry into the murder of Stephen
Lawrence and notes with interest the number of innovative recommendations
contained in the Inquiry Report and the Action Plan, including
that a record be made by police officers of all "stops and searches"
under any legislative provision and that the record contain the self-defined
ethnic identity of the person stopped.
6. The Committee also welcomes
the establishment by the Home Secretary of the Race Relations Forum;
the setting up of a ministerial Social Exclusion Unit to rehabilitate
the inner city areas where a high percentage of members of national
and ethnic minorities live; and the launching of the New Deal scheme,
which includes a pro-active strategy to introduce young members of ethnic
and national minorities on the labour market.
7. The Committee welcomes
that British courts have established that the Roma minority is considered
a racial group covered by the 1976 Race Relations Act; the identification
of Irish Travellers as a racial group for the purposes of the 1997 Race
Relations (Northern Ireland) Order; and the initiatives taken to promote
the socio-economic situation of Roma Travellers, such as the establishment
of Traveller Education Services at the local level
8. The Committee welcomes
the use of ethnic monitoring to ascertain the numbers of persons of
particular ethnic and national origins in various kinds of employment
and the setting of targets to increase the employment of persons of
minority origins in fields where they are under-represented, as well
as the use of ethnic monitoring in the criminal justice system, including
of the prison population, in order to identify points at which discrimination
occurs and to develop means of rectifying it.
9. The Committee welcomes
the Home Secretary's employment targets for the ethnic minorities to
be employed in different grades in the Home Office, the police, prison
service, fire service and the probation service by 2002, 2004 and 2009,
and for the armed service to reach 5 per cent by 2001/2002.
C. Concerns and recommendations
10. The Committee notes
the position maintained by the State party with regard to the non-inclusion
of the full substance of the Convention within the domestic legal order,
and reiterates its concern that full effect has therefore not been given
to the provisions of the Convention and that individuals cannot be protected
from any discriminatory practices unless they have been explicitly prohibited
by Parliament. The Committee recommends that the State party consider
giving full effect to the provisions of the Convention in its domestic
11. The Committee also reiterates
its concern regarding the restrictive interpretation by the State party
of the provisions of article 4 of the Convention and maintains that
such an interpretation is in conflict with the State party's obligations
under article 4 (b) of the Convention. The Committee recalls its general
recommendation XV, according to which all provisions of article 4 are
of a mandatory character and that prohibition of dissemination of racist
ideas is compatible with the right to freedom of expression. The Committee
adds further that the provisions of article 4 are of a preventive nature
and that States parties on whose territories no organizations promoting
and inciting racial discrimination hypothetically exist are nevertheless
bound by those provisions.
12. While acknowledging
the numerous separate initiatives taken by the State party to combat
racial discrimination, the Committee notes the absence of comprehensive
legislation to this end. The Committee recommends that the State party
also develop an interdepartmental strategy in this regard.
13. The Committee is deeply
concerned that racist attacks and harassment are continuing and ethnic
minorities are feeling increasingly vulnerable. The Committee is further
concerned about the findings of "institutional racism", within the police
force and other public institutions, which has resulted in serious shortcomings
with regard to investigations into racist incidents. Noting that a significant
number of recommendations in the Home Secretary's Action Plan for improving
the handling of racist crimes are already being implemented, the Committee
invites the State party to provide in its next report further information
on the impact of the measures introduced and on steps taken to implement
outstanding recommendations. In this context, the Committee also expresses
concern about the reported negative response from certain parts of the
police force to recent criticism brought forward by the Lawrence Inquiry
Report and recommends that the State party take steps to address the
backlash among police officers.
14. The Committee recalls
that it has previously expressed concern about incidents of death in
police custody disproportionally involving members of ethnic or national
minority groups and notes that the problem continues. There have been
a number of cases of deaths in police custody and in prisons of members
of ethnic minority communities in which no officers of the police or
the prison service have been prosecuted nor disciplinary action taken
against them by the Independent Police Complaints Authority or the Crown
Prosecution Service. It recommends that the State party provide detailed
information on measures taken to prevent such incidents and ensure fully
independent investigations into complaints against the police, in order
to inspire confidence in the criminal justice system among the ethnic
minority communities. The Committee looks forward to the State party's
findings as to the feasibility of an independent complaints system.
15. The Committee notes
with concern that, as acknowledged by the State party, there is increasing
racial tension between asylum-seekers and the host communities, which
has led to an increase in racial harassment in those areas and also
threatens the well-being of established ethnic minority communities.
The Committee also recommends that the State party take the lead by
sending out positive messages about asylum-seekers and protecting them
from racial harassment.
16. The Committee expresses
concern that the dispersal system may hamper the access of asylum-seekers
to expert legal and other necessary services, i.e. health and education.
It recommends that the State party implement a strategy ensuring that
asylum-seekers have access to essential services and that their basic
rights are protected.
17. The Committee notes
the State party's current intensified efforts to clear the backlog of
asylum applications. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure
that effective safeguards are in place to respect the rights of all
18. The Committee notes
with concern that there is a lack of information about settled Roma,
who constitute 70 per cent of the total Roma population. It also expresses
concern regarding admission and access to schools by Roma Travellers.
19. The Committee notes
with concern the continued high level of unemployment among ethnic minority
groups. The Committee expresses concern that there is racist harassment
and bullying in schools and that ethnic minorities continue to be disproportionately
excluded from schools. It recommends that the State party intensify
its efforts to ensure full enjoyment by all of the rights provided in
article 5 of the Convention, without discrimination, giving particular
attention to the rights to employment, education, housing and
20. The Committee notes
with concern that positive action is only practised "by training bodies,
by employers and by trade unions and employers' organizations". The
Committee recommends that the State party consider introducing affirmative
measures in accordance with article 2, paragraph 2, of the Convention,
when circumstances so warrant, for certain racial groups or individuals
belonging to ethnic minorities who are experiencing disadvantage with
respect to educational achievement and other elements of their socio-economic
21. The Committee encourages
the State party to introduce specific legislation against racial discrimination
by private persons or organizations currently taking place in several
of the Overseas Territories, such as Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands,
Gibraltar, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
22. The Committee remains
concerned that specific legislation against racial discrimination has
not yet been introduced in all Overseas Territories, including the Cayman
Islands and Montserrat, and recommends that the State party continue
its efforts to encourage such territories to proceed to the adoption
of legislation prohibiting and penalizing racial discrimination, in
accordance with the provisions of the Convention.
23. The Committee looks
forward to receiving in the next report of the State party disaggregated
data giving details of the ethnic composition of the population, the
socio-economic situation and the gender composition of each group, both
regarding the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and
its Overseas Territories, including the Cayman Islands, Montserrat,
Pitcairn, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
24. The State party is invited
to provide in its next report further information on the impact on racial
equality of: (a) the work of the Social Exclusion Unit; (b) the New
Deal scheme; and (c) the implementation of the 1998 Human Rights Act.
25. The Committee notes
that the State party has not made the declaration provided for in article
14 of the Convention, and some of its members request that the possibility
of making such a declaration be considered.
26. 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 publicized.
27. The Committee recommends
that the State party's sixteenth periodic report be an updating report
and that it address the points raised in the present concluding observations.