Anti-racism experts highlight issues of concern in N.I

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Alongside several positive developments, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has highlighted a number of areas of concern in its latest report on the United Kingdom. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission contributed to the research and welcomes the publication of the report.

The report underlines that there is no national strategy for the integration of Roma, Gypsies and Travellers in the UK and these communities continue to suffer severe disadvantage.

Northern Ireland Chief Commissioner Les Allamby commented:

“We commend the Commission for its comprehensive report. It is both timely and serves as a reminder of the gaps that exist in Northern Ireland particularly in relation to Gypsies and Traveller protection and LGBT rights. We will take this into account given our own ongoing investigation into Traveller Accommodation in Northern Ireland.”

It makes a total of 23 different recommendations to the UK government, the most pressing of which is its recommendation that the authorities of Northern Ireland consolidate equality legislation into a single, comprehensive equality act, taking inspiration from the Equality Act 2010.

Notes to editors

1. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

2. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s visit to the United Kingdom in November 2015 [Press release] and takes account of developments between 2009 and 17 March 2016.

3. N.I specific recommendations contained within the report include:

  1. ECRI strongly recommends that the authorities draw up, in consultation with Gypsy, Traveller and Roma groups, a detailed programme of integration strategies and measures to address the disadvantage suffered by all three of these communities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, including concrete targets, timeframes, and resources, in all areas of daily life, such as education, employment, health care and accommodation, in particular addressing the shortage of caravan sites.
  2. ECRI strongly recommends that the authorities of Northern Ireland consolidate equality legislation into a single, comprehensive equality act, taking inspiration from the Equality Act 2010.
  3. ECRI recommends that a refugee integration strategy is developed in England and Northern Ireland to assist newly-arrived refugees, in particular as concerns housing, employment, access to welfare and learning English, and that refugee integration is systematically evaluated.
  4. ECRI strongly recommends that the authorities review the legal aid and fees regime with a view to improving access to justice in discrimination in employment cases.
  5. ECRI recommends that legislation is enacted in Northern Ireland providing for protection from discrimination on grounds of gender identity.
  6. ECRI calls upon all political parties to take a firm stand against intolerant discourse and instruct their representatives to refrain from making derogatory comments targeting a group of persons on grounds of their “race”, religion, citizenship, language, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.

05 Oct 2016