Tehran, 19 February 2001
Address of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to visit Tehran again. I last visited this city in February 1998 for the Sixth Workshop on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Asian and Pacific region. I am very pleased to see so many countries of the region represented at this important meeting and I welcome all Delegations. I should like to warmly thank the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for hosting and organizing this event. The UN General Assembly has proclaimed this year as the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations - a most welcome development initiated and supported by the Government of Iran. The countries and cultures of Asia and the Pacific have much to contribute towards fostering universal human values of tolerance and respect for diversity. Iran has always occupied a historic position at the crossroads between East and West and it is therefore fitting that Iran is hosting this meeting. I see the task of this meeting as being to make a substantive contribution to identifying what needs to be done to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in its many forms and manifestations. I hope that, together, we may come to practical, action-oriented solutions, not only to address racism in Asia and the Pacific, but around the globe. This is the last of the regional preparatory meetings leading up to the World Conference in South Africa, and as you know, the Conference looms on a near horizon - only a few short months away. Regional meetings have been held in Strasbourg last October, in Santiago de Chile last December, and in Dakar last month. These have been productive events where many issues of specific concern to each region were raised and solutions sought. This meeting will no doubt draw on the discussions at these three regional meetings and also the insights of the various expert seminars that have taken place. At each of the regional meetings I have sought to identify issues of particular relevance. My aim has been twofold: firstly, I wished to bring home to participants what I see as the areas where there is room for improvement in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Secondly, I have been conscious of the need to build up a full picture of the range of issues that are included so that our understanding will be as complete as possible by the time of the Durban Conference. I have not hesitated to speak out at the regional meetings on issues which I feel need to be addressed. One aspect which I would like to stress today is the need to acknowledge the pervasive nature of racism and xenophobia and the implications which that holds for all of us. No region, no country, no community can fairly claim to be free from racism. Racism, xenophobia and intolerance are found everywhere, both in familiar, deep-rooted forms and, regrettably, in newer, modern forms. I emphasise the persistence and widespread nature of racism because the first step towards addressing the problem is to recognise the scale of it. The opposite of recognition is denial. As everyone knows, when a problem is denied or the scale of a problem is underestimated, it cannot be tackled properly. So my first message today is: let us be wary of the danger of denial. Let every country acknowledge that it has its particular shortcomings that need to be addressed. Don't imagine that racism and xenophobia are for somebody else, for another country or region. Racism affects all of us and every country and region faces the challenge of combatting it. My second message is that the spirit of tolerance, of respect and of valuing diversity is more needed than ever. We must take particular care to ensure that this spirit is reflected both in the language used in any declaration or programme of action and in the shaping of specific proposals. The Durban Conference must meet the challenge of giving true leadership to move us forward. Ratifying ICERD, the Other Core Human Rights Treaties and Ensuring National Implementation

Most of the Member States of the Asia - Pacific region have ratified the International Convention against Racial Discrimination.
That is an encouraging sign. I urge all Governments of the region which have not so far ratified the Convention to do so as quickly as possible and, in the case of those countries that have ratified it, to remove reservations they may have entered to the Convention. In addition, I urge Governments that have not already recognized the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under Article 14 of the Convention to do so as soon as possible. And, in this regard, I encourage Governments to make full use of my Office's programme of technical assistance and advisory services. The core values of the international community in regard to racism are expressed in a number of instruments: the International Convention against Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Conventions and Recommendations of the International Labour Organization on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and on Child Labour: all of these texts are relevant. To turn these values into comprehensive, realizable legal rights and obligations, States must ensure that they have ratified these conventions and fully implemented them into their domestic law and practice. I am aware that the Constitutions of many countries of the Asia and Pacific region contain guarantees against racial and other forms of discrimination. The challenge for the immediate future is for countries to ensure that these general guarantees are incorporated into specific and enforceable legislative instruments and administrative practice. The process of ensuring systematic and comprehensive incorporation of non-discrimination guarantees can be effectively carried out through the elaboration of National Plans of Action, the implementation of which is a priority of my Office's Technical Assistance Programme. I would encourage all Governments to strengthen human rights training of the police, officials of the judiciary and other key public services with which minority members of society come most frequently into contact. Moreover, sustained efforts can best be brought about with the full involvement of civil society at all levels so that social and political respect for diversity is maintained in this process. In a number of other regional preparatory meetings and expert seminars, the idea of developing a manual for best practices and models for combatting racism, including model legislation, education and training materials and media campaigns, has been put forward and there is much to recommend this proposal.

Migration and the Problem of Trafficking in Human Beings
At the expert seminar held in Bangkok last September, there was a strikingly high level of consensus that migration and the movement of people both within and across national borders are directly related to racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. In all too many cases, people take advantage of and discriminate against those fleeing from persecution or poverty. The shocking scale of the problem of trafficking in human beings and the forced prostitution of women and children cries out for improved regional and global cooperation to stem the tide of these horrible practices. It is clear that special attention must be paid to the more vulnerable elements of the population, particularly those suffering from double and even multiple discrimination. Women who belong to minorities, children, the elderly, disabled - all often find themselves exposed to discriminatory attitudes and practices both on account of their racial and ethnic background and also their gender, age or disability. The Special Situation of Women Migrants Women in particular frequently suffer from acts of violence committed in the home, in the community and when they come into contact with State institutions. The Special Rapporteur on Migrants of the Commission on Human Rights has noted that migrant women transiting through countries in which they do not enjoy nationality, or where they may not speak the official language, often find themselves subjected to abuse in the course of questioning from State officials or while held in detention or other facilities for migrants. Similarly, the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women has drawn attention to the fact that women performing domestic services are often highly vulnerable. Isolated from their own community and family, they can be exposed to violence or other forms of abuse and usually have little or no means of remedy or redress at their disposal. The challenge for Governments is to update their laws to ensure that they contain penal sanctions for anyone who engages in the trafficking of human beings or who violates the human rights of migrants. More than this, Governments must activate their enforcement and administrative structures on a broad front to reduce the vulnerability of migrants, for example, through the provision of medical and counseling services in case of abuse, and the raising of awareness among the general public to sensitize people to the special problems of migrants. I would encourage civil society to join in the fight against racial discrimination suffered by the most vulnerable sectors of the population because Governments cannot do the job alone. NGOs and other civil society groups can help identify emerging patterns in the forms and manifestations of racial discrimination and xenophobia and can advocate constructive change in policies and implementation to help Governments adopt and fine tune their approach to problems of racism.

Prevention and Education
Ultimately, the root causes of racism have to be tackled at the ground level. This means that Governments must renew their efforts to establish sustainable strategies to prevent racism at the local community level through comprehensive incorporation of the anti- racism message in schools and community centers. We should remember that we are all one human family, regardless of race, colour, descent, ethnic or social origin. The cultures and communities of the Asia - Pacific region, with their long traditions of philosophy, thought and interaction, are especially well placed to spread the message that diversity is one of the world's strongest assets. If this twenty-first century is to be the era of peace we all hope for, we will have to respect each other's differences and recognize that we share in common the basic traits of what it is to be human. Governments must recommit themselves to the principle that all persons, regardless of their racial or ethnic origin, have the right to be treated equally and fairly. This principle can only be realized through a revitalized and comprehensive review of law and practice with the help of civil society. Time and time again, it has been made clear that the unequal treatment of minority groups or migrants can only hamper a country from making full use of the talent and energy of its people, and undermine national development and consciousness. Let us build upon the ethic of a dialogue among civilizations and see in diversity, not a threat, but rather an enrichment of society.

I wish you well in your deliberations.

A Somali lesbian couple has been sentenced to death by an Islamic court in Bosaso, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeast Somalia, according to IRIN and other media. It is the first case of its kind in culturally conservative Somalia, where homosexuality is prohibited. They were taken to the Bosaso Islamic court on 19 February, where they said they living together as "man and wife". The Bosaso court found the two unnamed women guilty of "exercising unnatural behaviour" and sentenced them to death by stoning in a verdict difficult to defend even within the Muslim Shari'a laws. According to local sources interviewed by IRIN, the relationship between the two women became an issue when one went to the Puntland authorities to complain that her partner had "mistreated" her by refusing to pay for medical treatment. According to media reports, the sentence caused general applauds in the Bosaso public. A crowd of several hundred people had packed the court to hear the case. The crowd allegedly "cheered as the judge handed down death sentences on the two women," according to a BBC report. The sentence and punishment have not been officially confirmed. Somali media however report that a date for the executions is expected to be announced this week. Human rights organisations in Somalia have yet to react to the ruling, according to the BBC. Reactions are however not expected as homosexuality is a matter rarely mentioned in the Somali public. Puntland is the northeastern province of Somalia, declared as an independent state while awaiting the formation of a "federal Somalia". The Mogadishu government does not control the region. Puntland uses Somali laws, which are loosely based on the Muslim Shari'a laws. The case has also achieved some international attention, and the first protests to this human rights violation are already coming. UN sources say that the UN is opposed to the death sentence "as a matter of principle" and that stoning to death was "inhuman treatment". The Human Rights Declaration still does not provide for the freedom of sexual orientation, making international protests limited to the matter of death sentences. Homosexuality is illegal in most African countries, and although its prosecution is seldom, oppression often is harsh.
©African online services

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has condemned "arrogant" members of the country's African majority who have suggested that minority groups have no role to play in South Africa. His remarks, made in an interview with the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times, came in response to a report in the same paper last week about a prominent lawyer who had made a racist swipe at an Indian South African theatre boss. Mr Mandela said he was concerned about increasing racial polarisation, in particular a "widening of the gap" between Africans and Indians. "Some Africans themselves have made mistakes. They now throw their weight about as a majority. There are some Africans who inspire fear in the minorities because of the way they behave," he said. A week ago, a Sunday Times report quoted remarks recorded at a board meeting of Durban's Playhouse Company in November. The meeting was chaired by lawyer Edmund Radebe, a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Arts and Culture Council, and who was recently appointed to the body which allocates national lottery funds to worthy causes. During the meeting, Mr Radebe said: "I don't think education and development - I am not being a racist, please - can be run by an Indian." The remark came during a discussion about the theatre's former acting deputy director, Gitanjali Pather. A white member of the board, Carl Mouton, was heard agreeing: "An Indian mind works differently to yours and mine, very different." Ms Pather quit the Playhouse Company after the discussion was made public. Arts and Culture Minister Ben Ngubane has ordered an inquiry into the remarks. Mr Mandela said he was "outraged" by the news of the meeting. "To have people in leading positions talking like that is a matter of grave concern. It shows that they are not nation-builders," he said. "To speak like that of a minority group aggravates fears and concerns. There is already a sense of insecurity among Indians, coloureds and whites. He called on the ANC, the ruling party which he previously led, to do more to bridge the gaps between race groups. "The ANC has to do something. The ANC is the only organisation in this country which has gone out of its way to say: 'Let's speak with one voice,' " Mr Mandela said. But he warned that the ANC itself was not blameless: "There have been comments by some leading members of the ANC which have not helped the situation."
©BBC News

The Jehovah's Witnesses won a potentially far-reaching victory in a Moscow court on Friday over prosecutors who had sought to ban the group under a 1997 law prohibiting religious sects that incite hatred or intolerance. Ending a lengthy trial, a city court judge threw out local prosecutors' charges that the Jehovah's Witnesses had broken up families, tried to convert minors without their parents' consent and even pushed members toward suicide. The ruling means that the group's 10,000 Moscow adherents can continue to practice their religion freely. But a Moscow spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses said it would affect the 120,000 other active members throughout Russia whose local communities probably would have faced similar charges had the prosecutors won the case. It also sets a political precedent, though not a legal one, for many other religious groups outside the Russian mainstream that are required to complete a complex registration process and could face similar challenges. The 1997 statute, the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Association, has been sharply criticized by Western governments and human-rights groups. It certifies Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism as Russia's established religions. Others must meet a string of requirements to win the right even to rent property or hand out leaflets. Critics have asserted that the law is an effort to shield the Russian Orthodox Church, by far the nation's dominant faith, from competition. Church officials deny that but say the law is needed to keep cults and extremist groups from taking advantage of a population that is only starting to reestablish its ties to religion after 75 years of Soviet-enforced atheism. The Orthodox Church has been especially critical of the Jehovah's Witnesses, which have been especially aggressive in recruiting new members in Russia. The charges against the Witnesses sprang from a 1998 suit against the group inspired by an organization of people whose relatives had been lured into cults. The case was in recess for some two years while five court-appointed experts studied the group's beliefs and religious practices, measuring them against the law's requirements. In the trial that ended Friday, four of the five experts testified that they were opposed to the group. One expert, an ethnographer named Marina Gromyko, called the Witnesses "a state within a state" that bore "a hostile attitude toward Orthodoxy, which is the culture-forming, historical faith in our nation." In rejecting those assessments, the judge ordered prosecutors to pay the five experts' fees. The decision can be appealed within two weeks.
©International Herald Tribune

The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe has ruled that the fundamental right of all Germans "to assemble freely and without weapons under the open sky" can be restricted by the courts in some very specific situations. The case at hand was a complaint on the part of a number of right-wing organisations forbidden to hold rallies on 27 January, the day of remembrance of the Auschwitz concentration camp's liberation in 1945. Germany's highest court stated that on this and other days "invested by society with an unequivocal and weighty symbolism" the authorities are entitled to restrict activities "seriously at odds with the social and ethical views" underlying the German state. This ruling may also have repercussions with respect to voiced demands to ban extremists from rallying in certain places of high national significance such as the Brandenburg Gate.
©Central Europe Review

Demanding the ouster of a government appointee and boasting of nearly 20% potential voter support, the political leadership of Slovakia's Romany (gypsy) minority flexed its muscles last week in a display of apparent political unity. But NGO experts who have tracked the political fortunes of the Roma cautioned that the bold behaviour did not mean the ethnic minority had overcome its history of crippling discord. The leaders of 17 of Slovakia's 18 Roma political parties seemed to bury the hatchet last October under the Agreement of Roma Parties initiative, aimed at uniting Roma politicians for the 2002 national elections. The Agreement also had the backing of 76 Roma NGOs. As a single political entity, the leaders said, the Agreement could attract the united support of the estimated half million Roma living in Slovakia and thus gain representation in parliament, allowing the Roma to take their fate in their own hands, rather than having to rely on promises from Slovak politicians. On February 10, the Agreement put this collective voice to work, calling on the cabinet appointee for the Roma community, Vincent Danihel, to resign, and also demanding a greater voice in the distribution of state money for the Roma. The Agreement leaders said they regarded the demands as the clearest sign yet that the Roma were a political force to reckon with. "We can get into parliament," said Gejza Adam, the leader of Slovakia's oldest Roma party the Roma Civil Initiative (ROI), which heads the Agreement. "Because we represent the Roma community and our programme is to improve the social situation of the Slovak Roma, we can achieve even 10% support in the 2002 elections [5% is the requirement for parliamentary representation - ed. note]." But given the history of discord on the Roma political scene, political scientists have doubted the staying power of this latest attempt to unify. Indeed, while the goal is one of community concord, signs have emerged that the Agreement is already breaking down. "It's great that they managed to sign the Agreement, but the Roma still have a long way to go [to get into parliament]," said Miroslav Kusý, a political science professor at Bratislava's Comenius University. "Considering the incoherence of the Roma community, which is caused bythe existence of many different Roma tribes and strong traditional family links, the Agreement would be lucky to get into parliament at all." "The only way for them to succeed is to unite, but the Roma are unable to unite," agreed political analyst Luboš Kubín of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, adding that the only hope for the Roma was to follow the lead of Slovakia's other major minority, the Hungarians, whose three parties banded together before the 1998 elections. The resulting Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) won 9.1% of the vote, and today is part of the ruling coalition. "Unfortunately for the Roma," he said, "this [result] is still two or three elections down the road."

Lingering division
The unity of the Agreement of Roma Parties was imperfect from the outset as the Roma Initiative of Slovakia (RIS) - traditionally the main opposition to the ROI - refused to sign the pact. Instead, one day after other Roma parties signed the Agreement, the (RIS) inked a deal with the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). The HZDS pact guaranteed that the RIS would support an upcoming referendum on early elections in November last year, promised RIS cooperation in the HZDS' election campaign for the 2002 national elections, and committed the HZDS to focus on Roma issues should it get into government. The RIS said it hadn't signed the Agreement because it hadn't been invited to do so; it added, however, that it wouldn't have signed even if it had been asked. "The Agreement serves the political interests of the ROI," said RIS head Alexander Patkolý. "Why would we support our rivals?" Despite the Agreement's claim of equality between members, Roma activists say that the deal indeed favours Gejza Adam's ROI. While admitting that "the ROI [and not other Roma parties] will nominate potential members of parliament for the Agreement," Adam added that "we pledge to include members on our candidates list from all Roma parties which sign the Agreement." Klára Orgovánová, head of the Roma information NGO InfoRoma, said that the Agreement had been doomed from the outset because it was, in effect, an ROI scheme to get rid of its main rival while bolstering its own support. "The ROI gets all the media attention as the main player behind the Agreement, while other organisations and member parties must stay in the background," she said. "I doubt the Agreement will hold till the elections. As much as I think it would be great, I don't know if the Roma can hope to become members of parliament [under the Agreement]." Vincent Danihel, governmental appointee for Roma issues, was even more critical. Danihel, whom the Agreement wants ousted for "incompetence" in dealing with Roma issues, said February 20 that "the Roma have very little experience in defending their interests in politics. It's very dangerous to think that any one single party can now solve the Roma issue." Danihel added that Roma politicians like Patkolý and Adam "sit in their offices instead of promoting Roma consciousness in Roma villages.They are causing a further split among the Roma rather than promoting unity."

Objective: parliament
The weakness of the Agreement, say observers, is not only that it does not overcome rivalry among Roma politicians themselves, but also that it does not unite Roma voters behind parties representing the minority rather than the Slovak majority. As long as Roma voters could be wooed by promises from Slovak politicians, Kusý said, their support would continue to be abused by the latter "The Roma represent the easiest voter target," he said. "Big parties like the HZDS know very well that when you make promises to the Roma, they give you votes." In 1998, the RIS signed a treaty of mutual support with the then-opposition party Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), but withdrew from it July 8, 2000 after complaining that no pre-election promises had been fulfilled. It's a pattern of betrayal Orgovánová says has been repeated in every Slovak national election during the 1990's. But the RIS' Patkolý defended his recent deal with the HZDS, saying his party had learned its lesson and would not be fooled again. "We're not afraid of being misused. We've learned from our past experience, and I'm confident that we'll appeal to 80% or 100% of the Roma community in 2002."
©The Slovak Spectator

Expelling long-term immigrants convicted in criminal proceedings is "disproportionate and discriminatory" since no such sanction exists for nationals who commit the same breach of law, the Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography says in a report adopted today. Many long-term immigrants - those who have resided lawfully in a host state for at least five years - have integrated and are no longer humanly or sociologically foreigners, says the report, by Manuela Aguiar (Portugal, EPP/CD). Expelling them could have lifelong consequences entailing separation from family and enforced uprooting from their environment. Expulsion of those who have already served a prison sentence constitutes "double punishment", it adds. Migrants born or raised in the host country, and under-age children, should not be expelled under any circumstances, the committee says in a draft recommendation. For other long-term immigrants, expulsion should only take place in "highly exceptional cases", when the person concerned represents "a real danger to the state". The mere prospect of expulsion weakens the process of integration and gives rise to suspicion of foreigners, the committee says. It regrets that the European Court of Human Rights has not adopted a clear stance on the expulsion of long-term immigrants. "This deprives them of the certainty of the law to which they are entitled in a law-based state". It calls for a new protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights that would protect long-term immigrants against expulsion.
The committee's draft recommendation will be debated by the Parliamentary Assembly (Standing Committee) at a forthcoming session.
©Council of Europe press releases

Start: Wednesday, 28 February, 12 midday, Parliament Square, SW1
(opposite Parliament, nearest station: Westminster)

Iraqi Kurds face terror on return

Nearly every Iraqi Kurd applying for asylum in Britain is being refused. Lawyers and members of the Kurdish community say a dramatically rising number of Iraqi Kurds are now in danger of being deported and returned to one of the most dangerous places in the world.The desperation to flee the area was clearly shown this week when 910 Iraqi Kurds were rescued from a sinking hulk off the French Riviera. The government justifies the refusals saying the region is now a "safe" area. Yet one of the pretexts for last weekís bombing of military installations was the need to maintain a No Fly Zone, preventing Saddam Hussein attacking the area's population.
The government is ignoring the following:

1) An occupation force of around 10,000 Turkish soldiers in South Kurdistan (northern Iraq) which terrorises the local population
2) Ten years of economic sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council at the insistence of the UK and US.
3) Additional sanctions imposed by Baghdad
4) Frequent bombing in the No Fly Zone by US and UK aeroplanes, and by the Turkish air force
5) Sometimes violent economic and political rivalry between the two main Kurdish parties in the area, the KDP and the PUK, both of which collaborate closely with the Turkish government
6) Eight million landmines spread across the area
7) The ongoing Arabisation of Kirkuk and other Kurdish areas of South Kurdistan (northern Iraq), resulting in forced depopulation.

The resulting situation is one of chaos and violence peppered with the scourge of "honour killings" which no authority seems able to control. The government clearly acknowledges conditions in Iraq. Baroness Scotland, a foreign office minister, recently commented: "We are following events in the region closely." Many lawyers, and the Kurdish Iraqi community, believe sending people back to the region is tantamount to signing their death warrant. People who have fled the terror which Saddam Hussein's regime has helped generate are deemed to be not deserving of asylum in this country.

The UK government should reconsider immediately its categorisation Iraq as safe, and recognise that Iraqi Kurds applying for asylum in this country have a genuine need for it. The Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers believes people fleeing persecution, war and poverty are entitled to safe refuge. Britain is a country of immigrants, as some of the very politicians who wave the race card on this issue so vigorously know from their parents' origins. The committee appeals to journalists to ask serious questions about the situation Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers are facing, and remember the highly sympathetic coverage given to these self-same people in the weeks immediately following the end of the Gulf War.

The protest has been called by members of the Kurdish community in Haringey and is supported by:
the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers, Jenny Jones, GLA Green Party Assembly member, National Civil Rights Movement, CARF, Kurdistan Solidarity Committee, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, Hull International Federation of Asylum Seekers, Aslylum Seekers Support Group, Hull & District TUC, Kurdish Womens Organisation, Faili KurdsTrust Association,Haringey Trades Council, Louise Christian,LSA prospective parliamentary candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green,Liz Davies, former Labour Party NEC member, Cecilia Prosper, ppc for Hackney South (check south), National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns.

For more information:
Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers

©National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns

Austria's controversial minister for women - a male vet from the far-right Freedom Party - has sailed into a new storm. Herbert Haupt says he wants to start a men's department within the women's ministry - because men are facing a growing problem of discrimination. "It is clear that for some time more and more men (have been) complaining to the equal rights commission and reporting discrimination including harrassment at work," Mr Haupt told state radio. Female political opponents have angrily denounced the plan as an insult to women. "Chauvinistic whinging," said Green MP Madeleine Petrovic, pointing out that women in Austria were still paid on average a third less than men. Women were being let down badly by their minister, said Martina Ludwig of the opposition Social Democrats. "Instead of balancing out his deficits, he chooses to swap women's affairs for male affairs," she said. But parties that work with the Freedom Party in the ruling coalition backed Mr Haupt's assertions that men needed a state-sponsored backing. "There is growing pressure on men as traditional roles are thrown up in the air," said Maria Rauch-Kallat, secretary-general of the right-wing People's Party. Mr Haupt's own party backed him up, insisting that discrimination and harrassment were no less serious if the victim was a man. Mr Haupt took over as women's minister in February 2000, when the minstry was merged into his social affairs department. Official figures show that the number of complaints from men has risen by around 15% every year for the past six years. By 1999, the total had grown to 145 - still well short of the women's total of 627.
©BBC News

massive police-violence in Vienna / Austria against participants of the anti-opera-ball demonstrations - at least 42 detentions - autonomous center EKH attacked by 300 heavily armed policemen

In Austria, blockades are allowed just for the "right" demonstrations. While protesters against the chec nuclear power plant in Temelin block the border to Chequia - supported by the rightist government - and practice the national consensus, protesters against the government are not even allowed to block streets in a city. Even before the anti-opera-ball-demonstration the police announced that antifascist blockades would be made impossible.

On Thursday Feb. 22nd 2001 the police "enjoyed" an incomparable orgy of violence: protesters were literally overrun, chased through the city of Vienna, and anyone too slow to flee was beaten up. Some protester reacted towards the massive police violence by throwing bottles, stones and paint-bags, building barricades and then keep on running. A part from some far right hooligans "Rapid-Ultra", several undercover policemen dressed like "typical anarchists" were discovered among the protesters. The police detained at least 42 persons. Whilst listing carefully the own wounded (even if only they hurt their finger while beating), the police did not mention any wounded protesters. The order was to beat up anyone - and the policemen obviously enjoyed it: Surely enough several passer-byes were hit too. Journalists were wounded. We do not know the exact number of wounded among the protesters and we will not be able to find out, as wounded protesters normally do not denounce the police (this would automatically lead to be formally accused of lying by the police.) The Kronenzeitung - Austria's biggest (and far-rightist) tabloid - began its propaganda days before the demonstration. The police also, like many times before, spread the rumour about violent German "professional protesters", what of course remained a rumour. Furthermore, the mass media constantly talked and wrote about the "traditional opera-ball-demonstration" - a tradition which stopped to exist years ago. Last year a antifascist carnival was held, but obviously the media wish to get back to the (more radical) opera-ball demonstrations of the late 80ies and early 90ies.

After the last groups of protesters went home before midnight, the police prepared themselves for the next action: On Friday at five a.m. more than 300 policemen attacked the autonomous centre "Ernst Kirchweger Haus EKH". The policemen were heavily armed, wore helmets and bullet-safe jackets. Most of them were members of the anti-terror-gruop WEGA, known for its sympathy for the far-right freedom party. The doors were broken up, the noise made the people living in the house think of a attack by fascists (the police did no show any legitimating document). The people living in the EKH were brutally taken out of their beds and rooms, some of them with guns pointed at them. Some had to lie down on the floor in their underwear. While some policemen kept them under control, others stormed from room to room. A private computer monitor, most doors in the living zone and several pieces of furniture were destroyed. Some masked undercover policemen - the same that had joined the demonstration as "agent provocateur" the night before - participated in the search of the house. They were identified on behalf of their clothes. During their action the people living there had to listen to statements like "This is a shit house and will be torn down anyway", Today there are no human rights", "When the governor of Carinthia (=Haider) comes, this will all change", "after this kind of demonstrations we have to make a strong statement".
And this is the point: This attack was clearly a try to intimidate. Somebody had to be guilty. But no one was found... Apart from some buckets of paint an pieces of metal out of the common workshop nothing was confiscated. It was just nasty hassling. Again the police-troops marched against a "public enemy" created mostly by the rightist mass-paper Kronenzeitung (the biggest tabloid in Austria). The co-ordination between the Kronenzeitung and the police was proved by the fact that "casually" a photographer of the Kronenzeitung came by at 5 in the morning an took photos of the police violently attacking visitors of the pub in the EKH.
©Rosa Antifa Wien (RAW)

State prosecutors want to forbid the use of swastikas and other symbols associated with racism. Sweden already has invoked such a ban, and Norwegian officials think it's time to follow suit. Flags and arm patches would be among the symbols targeted by the proposed ban. "We think it's right to prevent the display of symbols or flags that promote racism," state prosecutor Tor-Geir Myhrer told newspaper Aftenposten. Norway recently has been in the grips of public outcry over the racist murder of an African-Norwegian teenager, allegedly at the hands of young neo-Nazis tied to the racist Oslo gang known as "Boot Boys." A survey conducted for Aftenposten indicates that three of four Norwegians would support a ban on Nazi-like symbols. Some 77 percent of those questioned agreed with Myhrer that it was appropriate to impose such a ban, while 22 percent disagreed and 7 percent were undecided. Sweden imposed a ban on racist symbols in 1996. Swedish law also forbids Hitler- and Nazi-salutes or greetings. Myhrer concedes that a ban on symbols won't mean that racism in Norway will disappear, but he contends it would send a signal that officials are serious about dealing harshly with racism. "A ban would also hinder the sort of neo-Nazi demonstrations like the one we saw in Askim last year," referring to a controversial parade by neo-Nazis through the streets of the town southeast of Oslo.

According to the South African government, only Portuguese in Africa are racist. For the Portuguese government, branding Portuguese vital to a country's economy is being apologetic. This appears to be the bizarre conclusion of the diplomatic debacle involving Portugal and South Africa, sparked when South African Minister of Safety and Security, Steve Tshwete, termed Portuguese racists. The Portuguese government however issued a statement late this week, saying that it would not allow this community to be "touched".
©The News

Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete has lambasted a group of Portuguese crime protesters, accusing them of politicising the issue of crime and of being racist, colonialist and contemptuous of President Thabo Mbeki, his government and Africa as a whole. Tshwete's attack is contained in a letter sent by Tshwete in response to a memorandum to the President from an East Rand community crime action group which led a 12 000-strong march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on November 15 last year. A copy of the letter was sent to the Democratic Alliance (DA) by a member of the Benoni-based organisation, Crime Awareness Campaign. While DA leader Tony thought at first that it was a hoax, Tshwete's office confirmed its authenticity on Sunday. The DA released the full letter on Monday. In the letter, Tshwete said that it was "perfectly clear" to the government that the November march to the Union Buildings, and the memorandum addressed to Mbeki, "was a conscious political act driven by your opposition to the government. "I would even make bold to say that, in addition to your defining yourselves as our political opponents, you hold the government, our President and our continent in contempt", Tshwete wrote in the letter addressed to Mr. M Ferreirinha, Projecto Contra O Crime. Tshwete cited the demand that Mbeki provide the anti-crime group with a public reponse "by no later than close of business on 22nd November 2000" as symptomatic of this contempt, and further accused the group of timing their march so as to influence the outcome of the local government elections on December 5. Tshwete then accused the protesters of being white supremacists who had remained silent "in the face of countless massacres" during apartheid, who continued to ignore the crimes suffered by communities in the country other than their own, as well as those crimes committed by members of the Portuguese community itself. "Some among the Portuguese community you claim to represent came to this country because they did not accept that the Mozambican and Angolan people should gain their freedom and independence from Portuguese colonialism", Tshwete wrote. "They came here because they knew that the colour of their skin would entitle them to join 'the master race' . . . It is perhaps because you have not outgrown these white supremacist ideas and practices that you wrote your memorandum. "The black majority", Tshwete said, "has been a victim of generalised crime for many decades . . . [W]e know of no instance when you addressed even a mild protest note to the regime that created the crime legacy with which we have to contend." The protesters, Tshwete said, make no mention of the crimes committed by members of their own community. "Within the last 12 months, [law enforcement] agencies have arrested and brought before our courts significant numbers of people who belong to the Portuguese community". Tshwete said that those "who believe that they have something to gain through the politicisation of the issue of crime, are free to pursue their counter- productive agenda. "The government and those of our citizens who are interested in joining hands in the struggle to build a new and better South Africa, including members of the Portuguese community, will continue to do everything they can to achieve this objective." DA slams Tshwete's remarks The DA sharply criticised Tshwete's comments on Monday, calling on Mbeki to take Tshwete to task "for the vitriolic and extreme attack he has launched on the Portuguese community in South Africa." While the Crime Awareness Campaign memorandum to Mbeki "was certainly strongly worded, it was a sincere attempt on the part of ordinary citizens to get answers from government on the issue of crime", DA Gauteng spokesperson Shelly Loe said in a statement. "The memorandum demonstrates the levels of frustration and anger buildingup amongst the public of Sout people who are not Portuguese supported the march and the concerns expressed in the memorandum. "Apparently unbeknown to the minister, there are a number of black people on the committee which heads up Campaign Against Crime, including ANC supporters, who are also deeply concerned about safety and security in their areas." In his letter, Tshwete said he would be forwarding a more comprehensive report on Portuguese criminals in order to persuade the organisers that they should take responsibility in the fight against crime. "It is irresponsible for the minister not to inform himself before putting such unfounded allegations on paper", Loe said. "The fact of the matter is that Tshwete would struggle to find people who have made more tangible contributions in fighting crime than those he condemns. Directly due to their efforts, about R3 million has been raised in sponsorships to, inter alia, put four extra police vehicles on the streets of Benoni. "They have recruited thousands of residents as members to fund the very successful precincts established to complement the police. Until recently,when government summarily stopped community organisations paying police reservists when off-duty to serve as security guards, those patrolling Benoni caused a noticeable dip in crime." Leon said that if Mbeki "was serious in his opening speech at parliament on Friday about his intention to build on the threads that bind all South Africans, he must publicly distance himself from Tshwete's divisive and self-defeating remarks."
©Panafrican News Agency

Justice Minister John O'Donoghue has hit out at the attitude of some upper-middle class residents to the accommodation of asylum seekers in their areas. He was speaking after locals in a Dublin suburb took legal action against moves to locate a reception centre in their area. Mr O'Donoghue made it clear that he was very disappointed with the response by some residents in well-off areas to government initiatives seeking to accommodate asylum seekers. The Minister said that all areas, irrespective of their stratum in society or what newspapers were read there, should take their fair share of asylum seekers. While accepting that people had a constitutional right to take legal action, he said that there was going to be no 'ghetto-isation'. Mr O'Donoghue added that he believed the policy of integrating asylum seekers into the community had been working well. To date, up to 4,000 have been given accommodation in different parts of the country. It is understood that Mr O'Donoghue's department is worried that objections from middle class residents would affect the programme. Residents in Ballsbridge took proceedings last week in the High Court in the wake of plans to turn Broc House into a reception centre. They have been given leave to seek a number of orders, including one stating that the use of the former hostel would be a material change of use.

Also see: Residents fight centre for asylum seekers I CARE News 16-2-2001

Intelligence agency warns about recruiting campaign
The extreme right-wing "circle of friends of independent news" is running campaigns at German schools, the Verfassungsschutz counterespionage agency says. The right-wing group has already written to a number of Bavarian school newspapers and now "independent news" promotion letters have turned up at schools in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia. Raphael Neuner, chairman of the federal youth press association, referred to a "completely new quality" of extreme right-wing promotion methods. All branches of the association in the federal states have been informed, Neuner said. The North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Ministry has warned pupils against being tempted by what it calls the "decoy offer". In its newsletter, which is several pages long, the "independent news" calls on pupils to think about whether "what has been appearing in the media every day for the past few months is really true". The "truth", as the extremists see it, is supplied in a "replacement for missing or forged school books". In it, the Second World War is described as Germany's "years-long battle of heroes". Further information is provided free of charge simply by going to the "independent news" web site. Clicking on reveals more about the "rights of residence of Germans in Germany" or about "courage against multi ". The "circle of friends of independent news", based in Bochum, has been under investigation since 1994 on suspicion of "racial incitement". It has obviously been eyeing the potential of young people for several years. The North Rhine-Westphalian Verfassungsschutz said in its 1999 annual report that the group had changed the layout of its newsletter "especially to appeal to the younger generation". A spokeswoman for the Federal Verfassungsschutz told the Frankfurter Rundschau that "it now seems that schools are being targeted."
©Frankfurter Rundschau

Testimony on gunman's cold behaviour contradicts 'schizophrenia' argument
The trial of Pantelis Kazakos, the confessed gunman who went on a racist rampage in downtown Athens in 1999, continued into its second day yesterday with testimony from his father, Nikolaos, who told the court his son is psychologically "disturbed" and an antisocial personality. He strongly denied the prosecution's claims that his son was a member of a fascist organisation, but admitted that his son did not confide in him. The defence lawyers yesterday tried to convince the jurors that Kazakos, who killed two foreigners and seriously wounded another seven in a two-day shooting spree, is "schizophrenic". This defence is based on a report by the director of the psychiatric ward at Korydalos prison, George Dimopoulos, who has been monitoring Kazakos since November 9, 1999. But the defence's arguments appeared weakened after several hours of testimony by five victims, four eye-witnesses and a police officer who said they believed otherwise. They all testified that Kazakos was "determined" and "methodical" and that he behaved like a man who knew what he was doing. Police officer Zysis Spyropoulos, who arrested Kazakos and 24-year-old Apostolos Apostolou - charged of being an accessory to attempted murder in one of the shootings -told the court how the two resisted arrest and denied any involvement in the shootings. "Kazakos was very calm and Apostolou did not appear to be high on drugs," Spyropoulos said. Meanwhile, survivors Timothy Abdul and Tommy Kofit, both Nigerian, Iraqi Kurd Serif Hadel, Bangladeshi Mohammed Dado and Pakistani Ahmet Mesar told the court yesterday how they were gunned down by Kazakos. All said they were shot from behind. They had never met their attacker and they were all certain that Kazakos had aimed to kill them. All of them said they are still trying to pull together the shattered pieces of their lives. Hadel was left paralysed from the waist down, Kofit still has a bullet in his head and is blind in his right eye, Abdul was shot in the back, lungs and stomach and suffers from serious health problems. Dadon and Mesar are in better health. Egyptian Saad Abdelhani, who testified on Monday, is paralysed from the waist down. The two who were killed are Georgian national George Oudesiani and Iraqi Kurd identified only as Hosevi. "Kazakos came from behind," Hadel told the court with the aid of a translator. "I was with two friends, Hosevi and Rasoul Yusef. Kazakos looked determined. First he shot at Hosevi. He fell to the ground and Kazakos continued to shoot. I was shot too. Kazakos also shot Rasoul, but he ran out of bullets. I believe Kazakos wanted to kill us." The trial proceedings against the 25-year-old former security guard for the state radio and television ERT opened yesterday in a tense atmosphere. The survivors and their relatives exchanged harsh words with Kazakos' lawyers, former Pasok MP George Prassianakis and main opposition New Democracy MP Christos Markoyianniakis. When an elderly man in the court room shouted: "you [Kazakos] should be ashamed of yourself, wearing a cross around your neck", an enraged Kazakos screamed "F**k you, fag!" Five police officers forcefully lead him out of the court room for a 20 minute recess.
Also see: Confessed killer unmoved as racist rampage trial begins(I CARE News 16 february)
©Athens News

The reputation of Wales as a racially-tolerant society has been tarnished by the murder of Jan Pasalbessy, BBC Wales has been told. Dr Mashuk Ally, head of the Commission for Racial Equality in Wales, has warned that the killing of the Indonesian-born man in Newport will change attitudes towards Welsh communities. His comments were made a day after a gang of four was jailed for murdering 48-year-old Mr Pasalbessy in what his family describe as a racist attack. Speaking on Radio Wales's breakfast programme, Good Morning Wales, Dr Ally said: "Wales's reputation as a tolerant society has been tarnished by this case - and in particular Newport, because Newport is a racially and culturally-diverse town, which has a long history of harmony and peace. "Regrettably this demonstrates to us that there are deep-seated prejudices in our society which have resulted in a death. "This is intolerable in the 21st century of a civilised society." Punched and kicked Newport Crown Court heard that Jan Pasalbessy was kicked to death in the grounds of a hospital in a "brutal and cowardly" attack. Emma Oates, 19, of Newport, Ashley Haynes, 18, of no fixed address, Roger Talbot, 21, of Cwmbran, Gwent, Ashley Haynes, 18, of no fixed address and Carl Rosser, 16, all denied murder but were found guilty. The jury had been told that Mr Pasalbessy had taken his 14-year-old daughter Christina - who witnessed his murder - to be treated at the hospital following an assault earlier that day in June last year. She had been beaten up by a girl egged on by Oates, a mother-of-two. She described seeing her father punched and kicked to the floor as she pleaded with his attackers to leave him alone. The former merchant seaman died from his injuries the following day. Sentencing the gang, Judge Lord Justice Richards said he did not believe the attack had been racially-motivated. But Mr Pasalbessy's family and friends, and members of racial equality groups, have strongly disagreed. His stepson Paul Heard, 30, said: "If he had been a white person he would still be alive today." Maggie Simpson, of the National Assembly Against Racism said Mr Pasalbessy was killed because he was black. "Racist crimes have doubled in Wales over the last year," she said. "Unfortunately Mr Pasalbessy is a statistic in that trend," said Ms Simpson. Detective Chief Inspector Des Jones, who led the murder hunt said Gwent Police would not tolerate racial crime. "We serve a multi-ethnic community, and that community deserves to be protected in exactly the same way as any other," he said.
©BBC News

The Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) expresses grave concern at the increasingly frequent appearance of racist and anti-Semite posters and graffiti in Belgrade, and urges the competent Serbian authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent the activities of individuals and groups who incite racial hate and violence against persons of different race or ethnicity. Within only a few days, leaflets with Nazi symbols were posted on the building of the Jewish Community Center, the Synagogue and the Jewish cemetery as well as on the doors of the Rex motion-picture theatre where an exhibit on Belgrade Roma has been mounted. Racist graffiti were scrawled on the walls of the Cultural Decontamination Center just before the beginning of a performance by a Roma drama company. The HLC also underscores the need for national legislation to combat racial discrimination and calls on other non-governmental organizations to join in its campaign for the adoption of such a law.
©Humanitarian Law Center

French authorities are considering the fate of 900 Kurdish refugees found grounded in a decaying tanker in southern France. Those with legal documents will be allowed to apply for political asylum, while those who do not have proper documentation will probably face expulsion, French Interior Ministry officials said. Authorities are also trying to determine where the passengers boarded the East Sea which ran aground on Saturday about 20 metres from Boulouris between the town of Saint-Raphael and the Riviera resort city of Nice. The ship -- carrying over 200 children -- had been at sea for at least seven days and medical authorities described the conditions aboard as deplorable. If the passengers boarded in Greece those not granted asylum could be sent back there under European Union agreements, Interior Ministry officials said. However, officials said the passengers may have boarded in Istanbul, Turkey. The ship's crew are being hunted after escaping in a dinghy. The East Sea -- damaged by the impact -- sank early on Sunday. French police said they believed criminal gangs in Turkey and Iraq were behind the smuggling scheme -- with Italy as the ship's intended destination, the crew having got lost. Daniel Chaze, deputy central director of the French Border Police, told The Associated Press news agency that "an Iraqi-Turkish Mafia ring" was responsible for bringing the Kurds to France. He said: "We know the captain's name. Police are working with Interpol to find him and the ship owner." Gangs specialising in people-smuggling recruited the Iraqi Kurds from their homes in northern Iraq, Chaze said. Those who paid between $200 and $300 were brought to the Turkish border. A Turkish smuggling ring then loaded the refugees onto the Cambodian-registered freighter, charging $2,000 each for the week-long voyage. Following the grounding the refugees spent the night at nearby military bases. Eric Painsec, head of aid operations for the French Red Cross, said most of the people were in satisfactory health, although many were suffering from fatigue after being at sea for a week. "Some of them are very weak because they have not eaten for several days," he said. Former Interior Minister Charles Pasqua has called for the Kurds to be immediately repatriated to "where they came from." "If we accept them on our territory, we will open the floodgates," the conservative politician said. French President Jacques Chirac said he was "profoundly shocked" by the incident, while Interior Minister Daniel Vaillant lashed out against what he called "these exploiters of human misery." The refugees were visited by Social Affairs Minister Elisabeth Guigou who said: "The legal procedures will be respected and the situation examined case by case." Guigou said the passengers left home two months ago. Three babies were born during the voyage. Every year, dozens of migrants drown off the coasts of Italy and Spain trying to cross from the Balkans or northern Africa.
©Cable News Network

For Spaniards, hardly a day goes by when they are not confronted with the issue of Basque separatist violence. From a car bomb that killed four people in Madrid last October -- an attack claimed by the separatist group ETA -- to last November's 900,000-strong peace march through Barcelona to protest ETA's assassination of former health minister Ernest Lluch, the problem of Basque violence is ever-present in Spanish society. Polls show that about three-quarters of Spaniards believe Basque terrorism to be Spain's biggest problem. "We are not going to allow them to impose terror on our country," insists Spanish Prime Minister José María Anzar . "We will fight them with all the moral and material force of the state of law." This uncompromising stance has born some fruit. Aznar's conservative Popular Party last month signed a pact with the Socialist Party, putting politics aside and agreeing to stand firm together against the violence. And Spanish law enforcement agencies have scored several notable victories against the terrorists. In the early hours of January 11, for instance, two ETA suspects were arrested in Barcelona. According to police their wide-ranging arsenal included the gun used to kill Lluch. Despite dozens of such arrests in recent months, however, the violence has continued to escalate.

The key issues
The two central issues in the separatist dispute are these:
Who is a Basque, and what constitutes Basque territory? "If you don't go to the roots of the problem, this problem is never going to be solved. And there's going to be more killings," says Loren Arkotxa, board member of the radical left Basque nationalist party Herri Batasuna. Spain officially recognizes three provinces as "the Basque country." Separatists, however, want another Spanish province, Navarra, to be included, as well as part of southern France to create a homeland for 3 million Basques. "Prime Minister Anzar denies there's a political problem," says Xabier Arzalluz, leader of the moderate Basque Nationalist Party, "which is notable in a country where, depending on who does the poll, 30 or 40 percent say they want an independent Basque country." The conservative government in Madrid, however, is betting on the police crushing ETA's violent campaign, aided by widespread public outrage over terrorism. "The government has said, and our party has said, that we are not to give anything to these terrorists," says Carlos Iturgaiz of the ruling Popular Party. Several world leaders and human rights organizations have called on ETA, blamed for about 800 deaths since 1968, to stop the killing. But the bombs and violence have continued.

Basque identity
The Basques are an ancient people wedded to both the land and the sea. Their hilly country has traditionally isolated them from the rest of Europe, although in the Middles Ages they did embrace Roman Catholicism. Entire museums have been dedicated to defining their particular identity. "I think that the most important thing for us is our language, because we are living here through the years," says Amaia Basterretxea, director of the Basque History Museum. Modern Basque nationalism sprang up a century ago as immigrants came into the region in search of factory jobs. The violent faction, ETA, started killing 32 years ago during the regime of Gen. Francisco Franco, which ruthlessly suppressed the Basques and their language. Much has changed since Franco's death in 1975. In modern, democratic Spain, many schools in the Basque region teach almost exclusively in Basque. "Some students speak Spanish because their parents don't know Basque," says Ane Irurzun, who teaches second grade at Orixe Primary School in San Sebastian. "But the majority prefer to speak Basque because it's easier for them." The Basque region now enjoys a broad degree of autonomy. As well as Basque-run schools there is a Basque parliament and a Basque police force. The region has even attracted a famous museum, The Guggenheim in Bilbao, whose modern, dynamic image is precisely the image the Basque people want to project of themselves. None of this, however, is enough for ETA and the other Basque nationalist political parties, with the result that the region's streets continue to simmer with tension, fear and a lot of anger.

Basque grievances
Hopes for peace grew during a cease-fire called by ETA in September 1998. They were shattered a year ago, however, by a car bomb in Madrid, with both the government and ETA blaming each other for wrecking the cease-fire. Now, hundreds of local officials who oppose ETA must go everywhere with bodyguards. "The worst for me is the weekend, when I stop being a politician and I'm just a mother," says Maria San Gil, deputy mayor of San Sebastian. "I think it's terrible for my kids to grow up, as my son says, always with 'Mommy's friends.'" Basque activists arrested by police are imprisoned in jails across Spain to prevent them collaborating behind bars. Some 430 ETA members are in Spanish prisons, and their relatives and at least one human rights organization say the dispersal is inhumane. "Every prisoner has the right, according to international law, to be close to the families," says Esteban Beltran of Amnesty International Spain. There is continued so-called low-level violence throughout the region, with pro-independence Basque youths attacking businesses, city buses, even homes on both sides of the border. The Basque parliament is fundamentally divided, its membership fractured into seven parties split into two main camps. Nationalist parties hold the majority, and parties loyal to Spain hold the remaining seats. Even the nationalists themselves are split, a state of affairs that has forced the Basque regional president to call early elections, due to be held sometime this year. Some people hope a clear-cut winner might bring some stability and reduce the violence. But early opinion polls predict little change in parliament. Many leaders in the region accuse the Herri Batasuna radical left party of being the political wing of the armed separatists. Party board member Arkotxa denies this, but adds there is a war on: "I am born somehow in this war. My sons and daughters are still in the same war, and I have two grandchildren, (and) I don't want them to be involved in this war." For some, however, the struggle is already over. At one cemetery in San Sebastian, people killed by ETA are buried not far from a member of ETA itself. In life, they stood at opposite poles. Now they are simply Basques.
©Cable News Network

A doctor, a dentist, a barrister and two engineers are among a group of residents who have taken a High Court challenge to proposals to locate a reception centre for asylum seekers in an upmarket area of Dublin. Broc House, Nutley Lane, Ballsbridge was formerly owned by the Franciscan Order and operated as a student hostel and religious centre. The judicial review proceedings have been taken by a group of 12 local residents with addresses at Nutley Lane, Nutley Avenue and Elm Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Mr Justice O'Higgins yesterday granted leave to James O'Reilly SC, for the residents, to seek a number of orders, including a declaration that the use of Broc House as a reception centre for some 100 asylum seekers constituted a material change of use of the premises and therefore required planning permission. It is planned that the asylum seekers will be housed for two weeks in family units in Broc House, which has some 30 bedrooms, and receive orientation services. The lawyer said Broc House was built in the early 1970s and for several years had housed former students from Gormanstown College, a school run by the Franciscans, who were at UCD. Student use had fallen and it was used primarily for religious purposes until about the mid-1990s. It was still occupied by members of the Franciscan Order until April 2000 when it was sold to the State.

Workers would be allowed to retire as late as they want under anti-discrimination plans being announced by the Government tomorrow. Margaret Hodge, an employment minister, is expected to tell MPs that compulsory retirement will be banned by 2006. The move is part of a sweeping package of anti-discrimination legislation which is being introduced as a result of a European Union directive on equal treatment agreed last year. At the time, it was accepted that this would make it illegal for firms to discriminate against potential employees in their 50s and 60s. By allowing people to work beyond the age of 65, Mrs Hodge is likely to be accused of implementing the directive too rigidly. She is due to unveil the plan when she gives evidence on age discrimination to the Commons employment sub-committee. The Government has not finalised the details and Mrs Hodge is expected to tell MPs that she will set up a working group to decide how the new law should operate. In a parliamentary answer last night she confirmed the Government's commitment to improving opportunities available to older workers. "We must overcome ageist stereotypes, and employers need to understand that younger and older workers can add value to their business," she said. There is no suggestion that people would have to work beyond the age of 65 and workers would still be allowed to retire earlier. Last year the Cabinet Office published a report saying that unemployed men over 60 should lose their benefits unless they prove that they are looking for work.
©Daily Telegraph

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine is due in Algiers on Tuesday amidst growing criticism in France of Algeria's human rights record. The French Foreign Ministry says he will hold discussions on regional and international issues with Algerian officials including President Abdulaziz Bouteflika. But a group of French and Algerian intellectuals and writers have called on Paris to review its policy towards its former colony because of allegations about the involvement of the Algerian security forces in torturing and killing civilians. In the latest violence, more than 30 people were killed at the weekend, including a senior member of an Algerian Islamist group who was an important supporter of the government's peace initiative. Mr Vedrine's visit is yet another sign of the easing of relations between Algeria and France after a period of strain, as a result of the crisis in Algeria. He is the third French minister to go to Algiers in as many weeks. The increasing closeness has been the target of loud criticism from a group of respected French and Algerian intellectuals who charged that France's policy towards its former colony amounts to complicity in crimes against humanity. In an open letter to Mr Vedrine they say that France should distance itself from the military-backed authorities in Algeria who they accused of silencing and even killing their opponents. In Friday's issue of the daily El Mooned, the intellectuals urged the French government to distance itself from the Algerian government's policies. "Hasn't the French Government supported Algerian policy - which on the pretext of combating terrorism is nothing but the political and physical eradication of all opposition - long enough," the writers asked. The intellectuals also point to a book just published in France by a former Algerian officer in which he describes how the army massacred and tortured civilians. Such criticism may be embarrassing to French officials but it's unlikely they would allow it to undermine relations with Algeria. Even when relations were strained European diplomats say France shielded Algeria from criticism of its human rights record in international gatherings. Hundreds of thousands of Algerians live in France and the two countries have close commercial and cultural links. Throughout the nine years of strife in Algeria, successive French governments have been careful to minimise the damage to these ties.
©BBC News

A black motorist from Birmingham who says he was repeatedly stopped by officers from West Midlands police is to take legal action against them under the Human Rights Act. Carl Josephs, whose action is being backed by the civil rights group, Liberty, unsuccessfully sued the force two years ago for racial harassment, unlawful arrest and false imprisonment in the first case of its kind in British legal history. Mr Josephs, who had no previous convictions and a clean driving licence, said he had been stopped 34 times in a campaign of harassment which began after he was arrested in 1992 in a case of mistaken identity. A jury decided he had not been a victim of police persecution but awarded him £1,000 compensation for being unlawfully arrested and falsely imprisoned in 1996. Mr Josephs told BBC News Online that since the case police officers had continued to stop him and he had decided to bring new action after an incident last week when he said police officers had treated him 'like an animal'. He said he was not deterred by the failure of his court action last time. "I hope to have more success this time because Liberty has taken up my case," he said. A spokesman for Liberty, Roger Bingham, said the organisation had become involved because they believed Mr Josephs' case breached the Human Rights Act in respect of the rights to privacy and to be free from discrimination. He added that Mr Josephs' case was one of a number the organisation was preparing on behalf of black people, mainly in the West Midlands and London, who had been excessively stopped by the police. "We do see that polices forces have been working to stamp out racism but think that cases like Carl's prove there is along way to go," Mr Bingham said. West Midlands Police have declined to comment on the case.
©BBC News

Carlslund refugee centre, not far from Stockholm airport, is the first place that the thousands of foreigners hoping for political asylum are taken. They stay here for as long as it takes to process their applications - anything from a few weeks to a year. Sweden rightly enjoys a proud reputation for accepting immigrants. The spokeswoman for the centre tells me that the first thing they do with newcomers is explain their rights - to health care, education for their children, pocket money, free accommodation and meals. The place exudes tolerance. The processing of applications is said to be simpler than in Britain, but rigorous, in distinguishing between those with a genuine fear of persecution and those who are just looking for a better life, who in theory should be put on the first plane home. But rules here are clearly made for bending. At present, for example, the largest number of asylum-seekers come from Iraq. Even if an Iraqi cannot prove he is fleeing from political persecution, he is unlikely to be sent back home. "It's not the kind of place you can really send someone back to," says the motherly spokeswoman. This is, nonetheless, a detention centre. All the exits have double sets of doors - you cannot open one until the other is closed - so there is no question of the inmates escaping into the outside world. And their stories indicate that Sweden is no push over. In the dining room, vaguely watching Pulp Fiction on the TV, a few dozen applicants were eating lunch. About half were Africans, from Somalia, Eritrea and Nigeria - the others from the Middle East and eastern Europe. Olga, from the Ukraine, said she was about to be deported, as a mere "economic migrant". Her sob story - no work, two kids to feed, life in the Ukraine is hell - did not wash with the authorities here. She hadn't even tried to concoct a political persecution story. Somehow she had just believed the Swedes would show compassion. Jane, a 30-year-old Nigerian, was a more complicated case. She wouldn't go into details, but rattled off a story that's had Swedish immigration officers in a quandary since she arrived here seven months ago. In Nigeria, she'd been punished under Islamic Sharia law, but had escaped - now she was in real danger if sent back. The authorities were threatening to deport her though - and not even to Nigeria, but to Ghana or Kenya or Togo. That was the ultimate insult, as though anywhere in Africa was fine for a woman with black skin, even if it wasn't her country. Jane said life in the detention centre was not as it seemed. Two days before, another African woman had tried to kill herself by grinding up glass and swallowing it. Stockholm City Hall - a magnificent building with what looks like a great medieval hall, where Nobel prizes are awarded - could be world away from the detention centre. But it was where Europe's home affairs ministers were meeting this week, to discuss what to do with all the 390,000 Janes and Olgas who arrive in the EU each year, in search of safety, jobs or just a share in the peace and prosperity of Europe. How do you distinguish between the needy and the chancers? How do you satisfy electorates who fear their European societies are becoming "swamped" with foreigners? Should you pander to them at all? How do you reconcile Europe's need to import professional people to work in our understaffed hi-tech industries, with the desire to keep out all but those who are literally running for their lives? Those were just a few of the conundrums the ministers had to ponder as they looked out of the city hall windows at the frozen lakes of Stockholm. Also there, to act as their conscience, was Ruud Lubbers, the new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He seemed to sense that the EU's moves towards a "common asylum policy" might mean less hospitality in the future. He warned the ministers not to create a Fortress Europe by shutting out asylum seekers. "Anyway," he said, "no ©BBC News

A mother and son whose lawsuit bankrupted the Aryan Nations bought the neo-Nazi group's compound Tuesday and said they plan to sell it, perhaps to a human right organization. "We hope to get the evilness out of there and turn it around to something positive," Jason Keenan said. Keenan and his mother, Victoria, were the only bidders in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court sale of the 20-acre property that served as the clubhouse for some of the nation's most violent neo-Nazis. They bought it for $250,000. Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler, who watched the transfer of the property he had owned for some 30 years, blamed a Jewish conspiracy for the outcome. "You take from those who work and have, and give to those who have never worked and did not have," he said. "I haven't lost my honor." There had been speculation that supporters might try to buy Butler's property and return it to him for his 83rd birthday. He has vowed to keep preaching his white supremacist, anti-Semitic philosophy, and is living in a house in nearby Hayden that was bought for him by a wealthy supporter. Butler filed for bankruptcy protection in October, a month after the Keenans were awarded $6.3 million. They sued the group for negligence after being shot at and assaulted by Aryan Nations security guards near the compound in 1998. Potential bidders were required to put down a $15,000 deposit and have a credit line of at least $300,000. The Keenans were the only ones to make a deposit. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala., civil rights group that represented the Keenans in their lawsuit, lent them $95,000, the required cash portion of the $250,00 sale price. The compound is a wooded site north of Hayden Lake that contains numerous buildings, including Butler's home, a bunkhouse, a guard tower and the chapel of Butler's church. The Keenans will get the contents of the compound and intellectual property such as the names "Aryan Nations" and "Church of Jesus Christ Christian." "The Buford Furrows of this world, of which there are many, will not have a place to come and learn the craft of hatred," said the Keenans' lawyer, Norman Gissel. Furrow is a former Aryan Nations security guard who pleaded guilty last month to killing a Filipino-American mailman and wounding five people at a Jewish community center in Los Angeles. The Keenans were driving past the compound in 1998 when their car apparently backfired. Three Aryan Nations security guards, thinking someone had fired a shot, jumped into a pickup and chased them. They shot out a tire, forcing the Keenans' car into a ditch. The guards held the pair at gunpoint and threatened to kill them before backing off.
©Cable News Network

In a report released Tuesday, the FBI said 7,876 hate crimes were reported in the United States in 1999. As in previous years, racial incidents topped the list. The latest figures represent an increase over the 7,755 hate crimes reported in 1998, but the difference may not be significant because more agencies were reporting such crimes to the FBI in 1999. The figures are in the FBI's Hate Crime Statistics, an annual publication. Seventeen people were murdered in incidents classified as hate crimes, compared to 13 in 1998. Of the total 7,876 incidents, racial bias was associated with 54.5 percent of the cases, followed by religious bias at 17.9 percent, sexual bias at 16.7 percent, ethnic bias at 10.5 percent and bias against the disabled at 0.24 percent. Intimidation was the most frequently reported hate crime, accounting for 35.1 percent of the total. Vandalism accounted for 28.5 percent of the total. Assault and aggravated assault comprised 19 percent and 12 percent, respectively, of all reported hate crimes. A hate crime is defined as a traditional offense, such as murder or arson, with an added element of bias. The report said that 12,122 law enforcement agencies in 48 states and the District of Columbia reported hate crimes.
©Cable News Network

Unidentified arsonists tried to burn down a Christmas tree given to the Vatican by Austrian rightist Joerg Haider and later replanted near Naples. The arsonists struck shortly before midnight on Monday in Acerra, setting fire to several branches of the 27-metre (81-foot) tree, said police spokeswoman Katia Monaco. The fire only caused slight damage. Haider presented the tree to Pope John Paul II, leading a delegation from the Carinthia region to the Vatican on December 16. Leftist demonstrators protesting Haider's visit to Rome clashed with police during the lighting ceremony in St.Peter's Square. The tree, under constant guard by police in the square during the holidays, was replanted Saturday in Acerra near a garbage dump on land offered by a local businessman
©Cable News Network

Paralysed victim identifies gunman, says attack was probably planned
The lawyers of a confessed gunman who went on a two-day rampage in 1999 killing two foreigners and seriously wounding another seven said yesterday (14-2-2001) in their opening arguments that their client is incompetent to stand trial by reason of insanity and recommended that he undergo further psychological evaluation. The prosecution, however, portrayed a methodical cold-blooded killer who aimed to kill during his carefully planned racially-motivated shooting spree. The trial of 25-year-old Pantelis Kazakos began yesterday in an Athens court under heavy police presence. Six survivors of the October 1999 deadly rampage, their relatives, the family of one of the victims, as well as migrants and human rights activists packed the courtroom. Kazakos' sister and father were also present at court. Kazakos appeared unmoved and his face was expressionless. As he glanced around the courtroom before the trial proceedings began he showed no sign of remorse at the sight of two of the victims - Egyptian national Shaad Abdelhani and Iraqi Kurd Serif Hadel, both in their early 30s, who are in wheelchairs, and will never walk again. Also in the court room were Nigerian Timothy Abdul, Bangladeshi Mohammed Dado, Pakistani Ahmet Mesar and Nigerian Tommy Kofit. The seventh survivor, Iraqi Kurd Yusef Rasoul, returned to Iraq. An Iraqi Kurd identified only as Hosevi and Georgian national George Oudesiani, 43, did not survive the racist attacks. "You brute" wailed Oudesiani's mother as Kazakos walked into the courtroom. The woman, dressed all in black, stood up to take a closer look at her son's attacker, but collapsed in her chair. With tear-drenched eyes, she tried desperately to hold back her sobs as she heard her son's name read aloud by the judge. Kazakos has been charged with two counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder, as well as a lesser charge of illegal weapons possession. His alleged accomplice in the shooting of Abdelhani also appeared before the court yesterday. Apostolos Apostolou, 24, is accused of stopping Abdelhani, who was on his way to work at a bakery at 4am on October 22, 1999, to ask him for a cigarette in order to make sure that he was a foreigner. Apostolou then reportedly got out of the way so that Kazakos could shoot an unsuspecting Abdelhani. Apostolou faces charges of being an accessory to attempted murder. Before the opening arguments by the defence and prosecution, the judge read out the charges against Kazakos and Apostolou and asked both of them to comment on these. After a minute of silence, Kazakos said: "It is not true". Apostolou also denied the charges against him. His state-appointed attorney, George Evelakos, portrayed Apostolou as a drug addict who was not involved in the shooting, but was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Defending Kazakos, former Pasok MP George Prassianakis and main opposition New Democracy MP Christos Markoyiannakis, stressed in their arguments before the court that they are not refuting the facts - their client did carry out the shootings. They argued, however, that Kazakos is a psychopath who should undergo in-depth psychological evaluation by a team of specialists at a state psychiatric hospital. Kazakos, a security guard for the state radio and television ERT at the time of the shootings, told authorities after his arrest that he was a Christian Orthodox on a "holy mission" to kill non-Christian foreigners. According to a report by psychiatrist Manolis Milonakis, who had examined Kazakos on November 27 and December 5, 1999, he reported hearing voices. "It was like [Prime Minister Costas] Simitis was talking to me and telling me to kill again... It could be [Environment and Town Planning Minister Costas] Laliotis... Christodoulos," Kazakos was quoted as saying. "Who shot you?" the judge asked Abdelhani, who was called to testify yesterday. "It was him" he answered, pointing his finger at Kazakos. The 31-year-old survivor, who has no feeling in his wasted legs, also identified Apostolou, "the short guy", as the man who was with Kazakos. Abdelhani told the court ©Athens News

Izmir's Governorship has set up a 'Human Rights City Committee consisting of 22 members from non-governmental civil organizations (NGOs), on Dec. 1, 2000. Since its beginning more 30 of applications was done to the committee which was set up to prevent the torture and degrading treatments. Most of these applications were about the citizens' daily problems so that some transsexuals have applied to take permission to work in the bordello.
Izmir City have a 'Human Rights Committee', which has been working for preventing the Human Rights violence and degrading treatments. But Izmir City Human Rights Committee seems to undertook another mission. Izmir Governor Deputy Ihsan Ugurcan said that, the target of setting up this committee, before entering into EU (European Union) was to inform people about the human rights, to prevent the human rights violence and degrading treatments. According to Ugurcan, the most astonishing one was that until today non of any complaints about human right violence have come to the committee, but complaint about daily problems. Ugurcan said "Until today there weren't any human rights violence or degrading treatment complaint application done to our committee," he said and added that, the most interesting complaint was come from the transsexuals, who wanted to work in brothels. "Until today, beside the Izmirians' private complaints concerning the city consuming desk, some of the transsexuals applied to the Human Rights Committee for the permission to work in the bordello. Because of this kind of applicants, we had to suggest the legislation changing to the parliament," he said. He pointed out that, according to the last investigations, Izmirians' complaints about the municipality services and the environmental problems, that were mobile phone base stations and the public transportation. "Most of the complaints could be classified to consuming rights desk. As Governorship, we are trying to help the citizens by showing them where they should apply. Person, who was fired from the job, says he/she fired without a reason and apply to the Human Rights Desk. We are listening their complaints and divert them to apply to the work courts or another institutions," he added. Ugurcan also stated that, they have been helping to the citizens about the bureaucracy as well. " In the some state institutions, some departments have been proceeding slowly and the citizens are getting unjust treat. As Human Rights Committee, because of that, we are holding seminars for the state institution's personnel to inform them about the Human Rights. State Institutions should have give the best service to the citizens. This understanding is one of the part of the Human Rights," he said. According to Ugurcan, Izmirians want that, the problems should be solved immediately or at the same day. He stated that, if the citizen's problem was about the environmental, Izmir City Human Rights Committee apply to the Environment Ministry to explain the problem.
©Turkish Daily News

European Union justice ministers Thursday agreed to speed the integration of their asylum policies in an attempt to stem the tide of illegal immigrants without affecting genuine political refugees. Alarmed by the increase of illegal immigration within the 15-country EU, the ministers have been seeking ways to standardize legislation, eliminating inconsistencies now used to smuggle foreigners into member countries. "We are very anxious to coordinate EU action against the source of this smuggling," said the British home secretary, Jack Straw, who proposed measures to toughen EU laws. Sweden, which holds the EU presidency and has been among the countries most welcoming to refugees, agreed that EU nations must act in concert. "The goal is that the first stage of our harmonization work should be completed in 2004," the Swedish migration and asylum minister, Maj-Inger Klingvall, said. Some have seen Mr. Straw's proposals as an attempt to weaken the Geneva Convention on sheltering refugees, but the home secretary denied any such intent. "All of us should be generous toward genuine refugees," Mr. Straw said. But he called for a tougher line toward "those who have unfounded claims for asylum and who are using the very complicated and contradictory practices of the different EU countries as a means of evading normal immigration controls." The justice ministers admitted that attempts at reforming their contradictory rules and practices have been lagging. At a 1999 summit meeting in Finland, the EU leaders created a strict timeline to improve cooperation among police forces, ease extradition of criminals and recognize one another's judicial decisions. Too much reliance on national systems has hampered international cooperation and allowed criminals to exploit inconsistencies among countries. Among other changes, Mr. Straw wants EU countries to increase coordination so applicants will not be able to focus on the member states most likely to grant residence. He also wants member countries to support French plans for tough criminal penalties on people who smuggle illegal immigrants. "The only people who have anything to fear from closer EU cooperation are the criminals who currently exploit the differences between us," he told his colleagues.
©International Herald Tribune

A webmaster is to go on trial in China for subversion next week in the country's first-ever prosecution case of an internet content provider, court officials said on Friday. Huang Qi, 36, who published articles on human rights on his website, will be tried next Tuesday at an open court in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The New York-based Human Rights Watch is urging diplomats in Beijing to send observers to the trial, "calling it a significant test of the limits of free expression". It said the case should also be of concern to international corporations operating websites in China or selling internet-related products. "Huang Qi, an urban, educated, middle class computer user, is exactly the kind of person that Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Motorola and others want to reach in China," the organisation's researcher Jan Van der Made said. "They have good reason to come to his defence." Mr Qi's website,, had published articles on Falun Gong, the 1989 Tiananmen square crackdown and the Xinjiang independence movement. His trial underscores the Chinese Government's determination not to allow the internet to be used to distribute material that challenges the authorities. Human Rights Watch said Mr Huang was reportedly beaten in detention in September, losing a tooth and being scarred on his forehead. It called in particular on countries having official "dialogues" on human rights with China to attend the trial. Britain and the European Union both have dialogues meetings with China planned in February. "It's precisely when serious violations arise that the human rights dialogues with China should be put to the test," Mr Van der Made said. Mr Huang set up the website in 1999 to publicise information about missing people. The site gained popularity, and claims to have helped 10,000 people find their loved ones. But it became a magnet for information about human rights and corruption. And last June, after a number of articles were published about Tiananmen Square, Mr Huang was arrested. None of the postings in question were written by Mr Huang, but were posted on the website by readers, his wife Zeng Li said. "I think my husband is innocent, his only crime is that he was not a good manager and failed to delete the articles," she told the French news agency AFP. Last year, the government announced a series of draconian regulations to control the content of news websites.
©BBC News

42 Moslem tombs vandalised - Press and government uphold total silence
Late Thursday night, February 7 or early Friday morning, February 8, 42 Moslem tombs at Vestre Kirkegaard in Valby, Copenhagen, were vandalised by unknown persons. These acts of vandalism and desecration shocked the Moslem community in Denmark (app. 165,000). What was infinitely more shocking was the fact that the vandalisation wasn't brought to anyone's attention on Friday: No newspapers or television stations mentioned it. On Saturday, February 9, one national newspaper (Jyllands-Posten) had a short article about the desecration. When the Moslem community became aware of the incident, they started calling the 2 publically financed nation-wide TV stations asking why the desecration hadn't been on the news - neither on TV nor on the radio - the day before and whether there would be any mentioning of the vandalisation on the news later that day. The TV stations claimed to have no knowledge of the vandalisation and only because of the persistency of many Moslem callers, the vandalisation was very briefly mentioned. On Sunday none of the 5 national newspapers (Berlingske Tidende, Politiken, Jyllands-Posten, Aktuelt and Information) mentioned anything. This morning (Monday) there still wasn't anything despite the fact that the newspapers have been bombarded with faxes and e-mails about the vandalisation. The following is a quote from the article by Roger Cohen: 'For 'New Danes,' Differences Create a Divide' in the New York Times December 18, 2000: 'In Denmark, the prime minister, Poul Rasmussen, a center-left Social Democrat, said recently that he could not accept certain ''aspects of the Islamic religion,'' like interrupting work with prayer. ''It must be clear that in Denmark we work in the workplace,'' he said.' He said this despite the fact that there have never ever been any mentioning of problems with respect to Moslem prayers in the workplaces in Denmark. Naturally, the Moslems here expected the prime minister to condemn the vandalisation but so far there has been no reaction whatsoever from neither the prime minister nor other politicians. It's like it never happened! Pictures

South Africa ten years after the abolition of apartheid When Frederik de Klerk, South Africa's last white president, announced the dismantling of the pillars of apartheid to parliament in Cape Town, blacks did not celebrate euphorically, nor did whites take to the streets in protest. De Klerk's formal step came only after a long development the people themselves had forced. But even today, ten years later, the traces of racial segregation are still visible. Two key apartheid laws were officially repealed in 1991: the 1950 Group Areas Act, which segregated residential areas by race, and the Population Registration Act. The latter provided the basis for classifying all South Africans by race and was the precondition for racial segregation in buses, restaurants, schools and clinics. But not even de Klerk himself mentioned the abolition of these laws in his autobiography. Other developments from the same period seemed to have a longer-lasting impact. Political violence, fanned by de Klerk's security forces, cost thousands of human lives. Preparations for formal negotiations with Nelson Mandela, who was released from prison in 1990, and his African National Congress (ANC) were a continuous source of public debate. By contrast, racial segregation in living areas and in daily life had shown signs of deterioration for years. Housing crises in black townships and empty flats in white urban centres led to thousands of blacks moving to the cities illegally. White landlords turned a blind eye to the situation, bribing police and lining their own pockets with rents that were drastically overpriced. Everyday discrimination in public transport or on beaches had already been ebbing for some time - both officially and unofficially. Yet a decade after it was abolished, the structures of apartheid continue to shape the country. Soweto remains a black city of millions in which at most only a handful of whites reside. Although prosperous blacks have moved to the wealthier suburbs around major cities, whites continue to call the shots there. That blacks and whites eat in the same restaurants and attend the same schools is totally taken for granted. "Mixed" couples are commonplace. But as in the past, so is racism. Nelson Mandela led the first government to be democratically elected, in 1994. Thabo Mbeki has since succeeded him as president. The political leadership has had to realise that exercising power is far more difficult than it seemed ten years ago. The exultant dreams of justice and a modest level of prosperity for all have been forced to give way to a harsh reality. While poverty and unemployment remain widespread, failures can no longer be blamed on the white minority. Many ANC politicians are now more concerned with personal ambition than idealism. Yet despite the trials and tribulations of normality, South Africa can still be proud of its peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy. The country is a respected member of the international community and is widely viewed as the bearer of Africa's hopes. It was de Klerk and Mandela, both of whom have since made their exit from the political stage, who laid the foundation for these developments ten years ago.
©Frankfurter Rundschau

State broadcaster NRK offered neo-Nazis a propagandist opportunity when it allowed Norwegian Nazi theorist Tore Wilhelm Tvedt to appear unchallenged on the main evening news, Dagsrevyen. That's the opinion of Nobel Institute director Geir Lundestad. It was the second occasion in a short time that NRK gave neo-Nazis a platform to pontificate with little or no attempt at remonstration. The matter has raised the hackles of the Broadcasting Board as well as the Nobel Institute boss, who maintains the public television channel ran an advertisement for neo-Nazism. Lundestad insists he's not in favour of banning neo-Nazi freedom of expression, but he vehemently objects to the way NRK allowed them to proclaim their views. "NRK pure and simply showed a neo-Nazi advertisement when it allowed Tvedt to go unchallenged in Dagsrevyen. A short news report is absolutely not the way to deal with such material," says Lundestad, who could accept Tvedt airing his views under different circumstances. Dagsrevyen news chief Viggo Johansen admits that last week's neo-Nazi report was uncritical, but doubts that it would have done much good to have challenged the views expressed in the programme. Johansen says NRK news coverage must be seen as a whole and that the issue was raised - with opposing opinions - again that evening in the prominent editorial debate programme Redaksjon 21.

There are some who trace the passage of France's new parity law, which obliges all political parties to put up an equal number of male and female candidates in almost all elections, to a day in 1995 that the press here dubbed Black Tuesday for Women. On that day, then-Prime Minister Alain Juppe, slipping in the ratings, decided he needed a leaner, meaner cabinet. So he dismissed eight of the 12 women ministers he had ostentatiously hired six months earlier, giving each roughly five minutes of his time to say good-bye. "When all those women were fired like that, it had an enormous effect," said Denise Fuschs, a French activist who heads European Women's Lobby, an umbrella organization for about 3,000 feminist associations. "It was done with so little respect that I think it woke a lot of people up. It was just too much, the last drop." The dismissal of the women, whom Mr. Juppe was overheard describing as "old biddies," helped to galvanize public opinion around the idea that a law was needed if women were ever to break into France's macho political world. But the push to get more women into the inner sanctums of government was already on. Some say the European Union, which regularly puts out statistics on the subject, played a big role in embarrassing France. It was not just that the Scandinavian countries were doing better - Sweden boasts that 45 percent of its legislators are women, while in France they make up 8.7 percent. But, even the other Latin countries in the 15-member union were ahead when it came to women in government, leaving France at the very bottom of the list. Then there are those who credit French feminists for offering an acceptable philosophical basis for parity. The feminists' argument deftly avoided the use of the word quota, which even today sends shivers down French spines. Parity is not a quota, these feminists said. Quotas are for milk cows. Fifty percent is merely the female half of the universe. "Parity is more rooted in philosophy than in numbers," Madame Fuschs said. "The idea is that human beings are not abstract. They are men or they are women, so having a 50-50 system is a reflection of the way things really are." Whether or not other countries will follow France down the parity road remains an open question. Experts say feminists in the Nordic countries, for example, have shown little interest in the idea; there it is seen as a numbers formula, too rigid and unnecessary given that so much progress has already been made. But in southern Europe, in countries like Spain and Portugal, the idea is growing in popularity, and many feminist groups are watching with interest as France gets ready for its first municipal elections under parity next month. Some feminists argue the appeal of a parity law may be directly related to the difficulties French women are perceived as facing. Many would argue that in France, the barriers to change are high indeed, a mix of bad attitudes and the rigid machinery that pumps out France's men of politics. So, the public was willing to believe that drastic steps were necessary to break the mold, they contend. Surveys in France show that the public sees its hommes politiques as an exclusive club, often out of touch with the needs of the citizenry. It has been dominated for a generation by the same men, who are reincarnated in job after job. Take, for instance, the French president, Jacques Chirac, who was elected in 1995. He was not exactly a new face, having been mayor of Paris since 1977 and prime minister from 1974 to 1976 and again from 1986 to 1988. In fact, French politicians are from strikingly similar backgrounds. Almost all are graduates of a college created by Charles de Gaulle to insure that only the best and brightest would run France's government, a school whose graduates are predominantly from upper-middle class Paris families. It is true they have often shown a di Rally for the Republic party. "There were two choices: wait for things to happen naturally, in which case they would never happen, or make a law." So far, French officials say they are struggling to find enough women willing to take their place on the party lists for municipal elections next month, and women are wary that despite increasing their numbers in office, they will be shuffled to out-of-the-way jobs. But even French feminists like Evelyne Pisier, who argued strenuously against parity, saying it was only a thinly disguised quota system, are pleased that women will soon be in government in larger numbers. "It is regrettable that we will get there through this slogan," she said, "but the result I can appreciate."
©International Herald Tribune

The last month has taken a toll on Anna Malíková, the outspoken leader of the country's far-right Slovak National Party (SNS). Scandal after squabble has left the opposition party boss visibly tired and edgy as she tries in vain to evade the crush of media waiting for her in parliament. Her political friends appear to have turned on her: members of her own party have grown disgruntled under her leadership, while relations are strained with fellow opposition party Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), and rumours have sprouted that she has a Russian boyfriend, Vasilij Alexander Belousov, formerly wanted for fraud by Russian authorities. Even Malíková's own nephew appears to have abetted her enemies by selling private romantic photos featuring the embattled SNS head and Belousov to the weekly magazine Plus 7 dní for 10,000 Slovak crowns ($213). The turmoil has not completely robbed Malíková of her stubborn confidence, however. She dismisses the recent scandals as "dirt" dug up by the ruling coalition which fears her party's growing power. "Under my leadership, the SNS's image has improved," she told The Slovak Spectator in parliament February 6. "It's logical that the coalition is interested in discrediting the SNS. When my popularity began increasing as well, I knew that they would start pouring bucketsful of dirt over my head. Who else, after all, would profit from it?" Political analysts, however, doubt the conspiracy theory, saying that the SNS's often inflamatory rhetoric has only appealed to a relatively small part of the population, and has always prevented it from ever becoming a major political player on the Slovak scene. "Why would the coalition bother with her?" asked political analyst Miroslav Kusý from Bratislava's Comenius University. "Malíková is leading the SNS lower in the polls herself, and the party's [controversial] politics alone are enough to discredit the SNS without anyone else's 'help'." Statistics also belie Malíková's belief that her party's strength is snowballing. Under the leadership of Ján Slota - who was forced from his post in 1999 after a series of drunken public outbursts, including a notorious call to arms at a party rally that year for Slovaks to man their tanks and "go flatten Budapest" - the party enjoyed steady voter support of around 10%. But a poll carried out in early January 2001 by the Public Opinion Research Institute (ÚVVM) showed support slightly down at 8.5%. Internal corruption has not helped the SNS cause. The party passed a vote of no-confidence against SNS Vice-Chairman Viliam Oberhauser on January 29 after determining that his election to the post last year had been rigged. Party members Katarína Pinterová and Ján Hrabovský said deputy chairman of the election supervisory commission, Duaan Maalonka, had fixed the voting process by ordering four ballots be replaced with new ballots baring Oberhauser's name. Maalonka resigned from his party post after the vote against him. Pinterová and Hrabovský were also reprimanded by the SNS. Nor has Malíková's personal life improved the party's image, as the public has been agog with tabloid reports of her romance with the former Russian fugitive. When Plus 7 dní ran the photos of Malíková and her 'boyfriend', Malíková was incensed at the magazine, accusing it of stealing the photos from her house. Shaken by news that her nephew had handed them over, she nevertheless stuck to her guns and blasted the magazine for "still printing them without my approval". But perhaps the most harmful in the long run are the political bridges Malíková seems intent on burning. The embarrassing 'Russian boyfriend' situation was exacerabated when SNS party-mate Ví azoslav Moric told media that Belousov had called him on his mobile phone and made "disgusting and filthy" warnings, including death threats, against SNS members `tefan Zelník, Ján Sitek, Slota and Moric, all of whom are said to favour a return of Slota as party boss. Both Moric and Malíková refused to comment on the phone call. "I'm not his [Belousov's] lawyer, and I'm certainly not a detective," Malíková said. "But I know that he [Belousov] is currently taking certain steps to explain the whole affair to the Slovak media." But while the SNS tries to patch up its internal differences, a fresh quarrel is brewing with its opposition partner. HZDS member of parliament Marta Aibeková said that her discussions with SNS deputies showed Malíková was losing support. "And I can understand why," she said. "If Malíková is going to be so impulsive, like when she decided to criticise the HZDS [in a February 2, 2001 article in the daily Národ proof that the party was doing well on its own. "The very fact that I am being attacked is evidence that the SNS is becoming dangerous for our political rivals," she said. "The SNS remains a major player, and all I can say is that 'the dogs may be barking, but the caravan goes on'."
©The Slovak Spectator

A surge in support for the anti-immigration One Nation party has helped the opposition Labour party to a landslide victory over the ruling coalition in Western Australia. One Nation, which has campaigned against the arrival of thousands of illegal immigrants, captured 9.6% of the vote and up to 25% in some constituencies. Correspondents say the result is likely to hand One Nation the balance of power in Western Australia's upper house of parliament. The governing Liberal-National coalition of the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, now holds office in only one of Australia's six states. Antony Green, an electoral analyst with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said the message from Western Australia is: "Be afraid, be very afraid, because there is a lot of rural voters out there prepared to kick the National Party in the guts and they don't care". One Nation's leader Pauline Hanson said on Monday her party's electoral comeback was in part a backlash against the Australian Government's "soft" approach to boatpeople. "At every meeting people asked me about what we are going to do about the illegal boatpeople," she said. "The general feeling is that people feel forgotten, that the government and the opposition are more concerned about the illegal boatpeople arriving on our shores... "We don't know if they've got any criminal background. We don't know exactly where they're from, and another thing - there's diseases that they're bringing into Australia," she said. "It's a known fact that some of them have got typhoid. We're leaving our people wide open to catching these diseases." Australia is trying to track down 18 Afghan boatpeople who may be carrying typhoid fever, after six cases of the illness were discovered in detention camps. They were released in January from two remote immigration processing centres. There has been a dramatic rise in the number of boatpeople entering Australia illegally, many of them of Middle Eastern origin. Three boats carrying nearly 300 illegal immigrants were intercepted in the first three weeks of 2001, while 50 boats carrying 3,080 people arrived in 2000.
©BBC News

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Madrid and Valencia to protest against Spain's tough new law on immigration. The law, which came into effect last month, could lead to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants being expelled from Spain. Many have already lost their automatic right to healthcare and education. The new law was an electoral pledge of the governing Popular Party. Between 7,000 and 10,000 immigrants from Asia, Africa and eastern Europe marched through the centre of Madrid demanding work and residency papers in Spain. About 3,500 marched in the eastern city of Valencia. Labour unions, left-wing politicians, intellectuals and popular figures from the Spanish cinema and music world joined Sunday's march to support the immigrants' plea for papers. The demonstrations are the biggest show of opposition to Prime Minister Aznar's government for some time. The government is not sure of the exact number of illegal immigrants in Spain, but most commentators agree that the number is growing. Last year, four times as many illegal immigrants were picked up by the authorities as in 1999. The government argues that the new law improves conditions for immigrants who come to Spain with the correct visas, residency or work permits. It freely admits that it needs a big foreign workforce to do many of the jobs in agriculture or construction which fewer Spanish people want to do. Under severe pressure from its European Union partners, however, Spain is keen to tighten immigration controls, especially along the EU's vulnerable frontier with North Africa, used by many illegal immigrants.
©BBC News

Several dozen people have been injured, two seriously, in a knife fight at a refugee hostel near the French channel port of Calais. Reports from the scene say an argument between Afghan and Kurdish refugees escalated to the point where, at one stage, 100 people became involved. Refugees said that the violence in the Sangatte Red Cross Centre was sparked by the presence of a people smuggler who specialises in taking people to the UK. French riot police were called to deal with the disturbance and eventually restored order. The centre, a large aircraft hangar converted to a hostel two years ago, is home to hundreds of people from up to 20 different countries. Most of them have been stopped by the French authorities from going to Britain without the necessary visas. A BBC correspondent says that in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the centre, incidents like this are just waiting to happen. The situation is of growing concern to the French and British governments, he says. The two countries decided on Friday to tighten measures to prevent illegal immigrants from entering Britain. At their annual summit, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac agreed to set up a new body, to be known as the Cross-Channel Commission, to improve security on channel crossings. And the two leaders struck a deal to allow French and British officials to board the cross-channel Eurostar train in each other's country to carry out their own checks.
©BBC News

Councillors in Birmingham are to vote on plans to create the country's first mixed Islamic secondary school in the state sector. The proposal is to turn an independent school into a voluntary-aided one, with funding from the local authority. Council officers are advising that the plans be approved. But one Conservative councillor says the local authority should work for integration not division. Under the proposals, the mixed Al Hijrah School in Bordesley Green would be funded in a similar way to the city's 18 voluntary-aided church schools. The Conservative councillor who is fighting the scheme, James Hutchings, said: "This Labour plan is clearly a question of apartheid in education. "We have little serious racial trouble in Birmingham and one of the key factors is that we have integrated education." Mr Hutchings said he was in favour of religious education in schools but said separate faith schools had led to problems in Northern Ireland. But the plans have the support of the Labour council, which already has an Islamic primary school in the voluntary-aided sector, the Al Furquan. Roy Pinney, a Labour councillor, said the scheme would reflect the city's diversity. "The creation of an Islamic secondary school would bring a new specialist dimension to education in Birmingham, reflecting the multi-cultural, multi-faith nature of the city." The plans are out for consultation until mid-March. They will then be put to Birmingham Council's school organisation committee for approval. The local authority said the school's admission criteria would favour Muslim applicants but would not exclude others. However, if the school was over-subscribed, officials said children from Islamic families would get preference. From September, the school would admit 18 children who were not paying fees, rising to 120 over four years. The school would eventually accommodate 600 children aged between 11 and 16
©BBC News

Ryanair has been told to pay £8,000 compensation and ordered to publish an advertisement stating it does not discriminate in employment, following a finding that it published an ageist advertisement. The judgment by an equality officer is the first under the 1998 Act, which outlaws discrimination on grounds of age and eight other grounds. It is also the first judgment in Europe against age discrimination under equality legislation. The case was taken by the Equality Authority after Ryanair advertised for a director of regulatory affairs in The Irish Times in February 2000. It said: "We need a young and dynamic professional" and "the ideal candidate will be young and dynamic". The authority wrote to Ryanair and to The Irish Times, saying it considered the advertisement to be in breach of the 1998 Employment Equality Act. This extended protection against job bias from grounds of sex and marital status to include age, race, religion, membership of the Travelling community, sexual orientation, disability, and family status. In its response, Ryanair denied any breach of the Act, and said the advertisement meant young in spirit. The Irish Times responded, enclosing a letter from its advertising department to Ryanair, in which it agreed with the Equality Authority that the advertisement was illegal, and also enclosing a memo to all advertising staff warning that advertisements should not contain the words "young" or "old". Last May the case was referred to the director of equality investigations, Ms Melanie Pine, who delegated it to an equality officer in her office. Ryanair claimed it was singled out; that The Irish Times was not being pursued; and similar advertisements had been published without any complaint. The authority said The Irish Times had taken remedial action, and that in every other instance the employer had published an amended advertisement at its own expense. It also said all the applicants for the Ryanair position were under 40, indicating that older people felt excluded by the advertisement. The word "young" was found to clearly indicate an intention to exclude applicants who were "not young". The maximum fine for a non-employee taking a case under the Act is £10,000, and Ryanair was ordered to pay £8,000 to the Equality Authority, which is passing the money on to an organisation fighting ageism. Ryanair has also been ordered to review its equal opportunities policies, equality proofing of recruitment, and to publish a statement of equal size and prominence as the offending advertisement, making a clear commitment to equal opportunities policies. Last night Ryanair insisted it was an equal opportunities employer. In a statement the company said: "We interviewed candidates in their 20s and 30s for the position and the successful candidate, who was in the mid-30s, was appointed solely on merit." The statement concluded: "It [the decision] speaks volumes about the Equality Authority who chose to ignore the 1998 Act and not take action against The Irish Times who published the offending advertisement and who continue to publish similar advertisements from other organisations since that date."
©The Irish Times

Last year the number of people seeking asylum in the UK reached record levels, with a total of 76,040 individual applications. The real number of people arriving in the country is likely to be much higher, as many have dependents and others enter illegally. But while the number of applications for asylum in the UK fell in the early 1990s, since 1996 (when about 30,000 individual applications were made) there has been a steady rise. The second half of 1998 saw a substantial rise in applications, many of them Kosovans fleeing the former Yugoslavia. But there was an overall rise in applications from other nationalities as well and many other European countries also had an increase in asylum seekers in that period. In total the UK had more than 46,000 applications in 1998, a 42% rise over the previous year. The trend continued in 1999, with a 55% increase in the total number of applications (71,160) and in the number fleeing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Although the number of asylum seekers rose last year by 7%, there was also a sharp increase in the number of decisions taken on individual cases. In 2000, decisions on the merit of the application were taken in 110,065 cases, more than three times the figure for 1999 (33,720). Only 10% (10,185) of these were granted asylum as genuine refugees, although a further 12% (11,365) were granted exceptional leave to remain. In 1999, 7,800 people (36% of decisions made) were recognised as refugees and 12% were not recognised but allowed to stay. This left a backlog at the end of last year of 66,195 cases, compared with 101,475 outstanding applications at the end of 1999. In 1999, just under 40% of all applications were from European nationals, 30% Asians and 26% Africans. The leading countries were the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (17%), Somalia (11%) Sri Lanka (7%), Afghanistan (6%) and Turkey (4%). The Home Office is expected to publish the figures for 2000 soon. It has estimated that the total cost for asylum seekers throughout the asylum process, including support, healthcare, and education, for the year 2000/2001 will be £448m. Another growing problem is finding places to house asylum seekers while their claims are processed. More than 14,000 applicants and their dependents have been allocated to regional "clusters", to relieve pressure on councils in key areas, such as Dover and London, which have been overburdened with asylum seekers. But many local authorities have had difficulties locating suitable accommodation, and some asylum seekers have been temporarily housed in prisons instead, making use of 500 unused remand places nationally. An RAF barracks in Cambridgeshire has also been converted to process an estimated 13,000 applications a month.

Application Numbers
2000- 76,040
1999- 71,160
1998- 46,060
1997- 32,400
1996- 30,000
1995- 44,000
1994- 33,000
1993- 22,000
1992- 25,000
1991- 44,800
©BBC News

Thousands of Austrians marched through downtown Vienna on Saturday to protest against the government that was formed a year ago and includes the far-right Freedom party. The inclusion of the Freedom party in Austria's government a year ago Sunday prompted international criticism and led to European Union diplomatic sanctions that were removed in September. Among the slogans demonstrators shouted was: "This government must go, one year of black-blue is enough" - a reference to the colours associated with the Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's conservative Austrian People's party and the Freedom party. Snowfall and freezing temperatures drove some demonstrators home before the march reached the square in front of the government building. Police estimated the crowd at about 4,000. Organizers put the number at 10,000 but said they hoped for more. Some 60 organizations called on their members to turn out and voice their grievances against government policies, including austerity measures aimed at abolishing the budget deficit by next year. Including the Freedom party in the government drew criticism because of its anti-foreigner stand and inflammatory remarks by its leader at the time, Joerg Haider, who has praised some Nazi policies. Haider, the governor of Austria's Carinthia province, resigned as Freedom party leader in May but remains one of its most influential figures.
©Associated Press

Lost track of David Duke, who first made a name for himself in the 1970s as the supposed fresh, modern face of the Ku Klux Klan? If so, his latest opus can be found here, on sale in Russia's parliament. For the last two years, the man who promised to move the Klan out of the cow pasture and into the hotel meeting room has been spending more and more time in a rented Moscow apartment, building bridges to right-wing nationalists in the new Russia. He has held a rally at a respected literary museum, signed autographs at the Russian Writers Union, and met with members of parliament, including a retired Soviet general, Albert Makashov, who is known for anti-Semitic remarks. And the preface to Duke's book was written by one of ex-President Boris N. Yeltsin's former ministers. Since last month, bookstalls operating next to the cafeteria in the Duma, parliament's lower house, have been selling Duke's first book in Russian: The Jewish Question Through the Eyes of an American. Sales appear brisk According to the local office of the Anti-Defamation League, the book - with a glossy black cover portraying a suited, serious-looking Duke - is a classic anti-Semitic tract and appears to have been selling briskly. Boris S. Mironov, the former Yeltsin press minister who helped arrange a December news conference for Duke to launch his book, said he had been getting calls from other regions of Russia seeking copies. Mironov is a self-described anti-Semite who is secretary of the nationalist-dominated Russian Writers Union and chairman of the Slavic Union of Journalists. Duke, who has been in Russia since November, did not respond to an interview request. The former Klansman served in the Louisiana Legislature in the 1980s and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1990. Until recently, he was an elected committeeman of the Republican Party in his home Louisiana parish. He left the Klan years ago and now presents himself as the president of a group he calls the National Organization for European American Rights. Five thousand copies of his book have been published here, though it remains to be seen whether he will develop any real following in Russia. No original thinking One right-wing editor said he doubted that Duke would win a large constituency, not because people do not agree with Duke but because the American's thoughts are not original. "All the things that are said in the book are as old as time," said Alexander A. Prokhanov, editor in chief of Zavtra (Tomorrow), a nationalist weekly that sells up to 100,000 copies per edition. According to leading Russian pollster Yuri A. Levada, anti-Jewish sentiments are not representative of Russians as a whole. The number of rabid anti-Semites is relatively small at 3 percent to 4 percent of the population, he said. "David Duke, apparently, is flirting with this particular lot," Levada said, adding that he was not too concerned about Duke, but does worry that his compatriots have been too sanguine about Duke's proselytizing. "The real problem is there is no anti-anti-Semitism, that anti-Semitism meets no overt public reprimand," he said. If someone such as Duke is not condemned, he warned, "The borderlines between the admissible and the inadmissible start to blur, and people can no longer tell good from evil." Asserting that the "white race" is facing a "genetic catastrophe," Duke argues that Russia can play a pivotal role. "Russia is a White nation! Of the many capital cities of Europe, it is accurate to say that Moscow is the Whitest of them all," he proclaims in one tract. In his book, Duke expresses the view that Jews are bent on supremacy. As to Russia, he blames Jews for the evils of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Currently, he charges, Jews are behind the Russian Mafia, and Russia is being "plundered by the Jewish oligarchs." Lev Krichevsky, director of the ADL's Center on Anti-Semitism and Extremism in Russia, said authorities needed ©The Philadelphia Inquirer

- A woman claims religious discrimination after her child is disqualified from a judo competition for refusing to bow to the mat.
- A transsexual wins compensation after being denied access to the ladies' loo.
- A woman regains her job as a firefighter after a fitness test is declared discriminatory.
- A professor is found to have created a "sexualized environment" for a meeting with a student.
- A Jehovah's Witness gets $30,000 in compensation after his boss ordered him to put six poinsettias on display for Christmas.

With cases such as these, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has gained a reputation as the most activist and controversial in Canada. It argues more cases before the Supreme Court of Canada than any other tribunal and it has generated far greater controversy, partly because it produces more rulings than its counterparts and partly because it has been nurtured by an NDP government that prides itself on social activism. But the label isn't one the tribunal wears proudly. Indeed, chairwoman Heather MacNaughton said she doesn't necessarily agree that B.C. is in the vanguard, although she admits that a lot of the Supreme Court jurisprudence in the human-rights field has arisen out of B.C. cases. "We do groundbreaking work in some cases, and it is expected that there would be public debate about it," she said in an interview. The boldness of the quasi-judicial tribunal, and its sister B.C. Human Rights Commission, have made both extremely vulnerable, especially with an election in the offing and a political climate in the province that has become increasingly conservative. Indeed, the man who is expected to be the province's top lawmaker before summer -- Liberal Geoff Plant -- is already contemplating big changes, saying the tribunal has produced too many "goofy" rulings and has lost public confidence. "We believe, as a party, strongly in the idea of human rights and in . . . ensuring there is an affordable, fair, balanced opportunity to deal with allegations," Plant said. "But there isn't much in the current process that fills me with the sense that it's working." While every adjudication process yields some decisions that are difficult to understand, Plant suggested there have been an "astonishing" number of cases before the tribunal that have raised eyebrows -- and tempers -- across the province. "There is a long string of decisions that diminishes the idea of human rights rather than elevates it. There are even some decisions that make our human rights tribunal look more like the petty grievances tribunal," he said. Some critics blame the commission -- which receives and investigates complaints -- for referring too many dubious cases to the tribunal for a ruling. Others question the impartiality of the tribunal in deciding sensitive and sometimes explosive issues. Plant has some sympathy for the latter position and indicated he wants to look at wholesale changes. If the Liberals form government as expected, they would canvass the public for views on whether the tribunal should be eliminated and complaints referred directly to the courts. As it stands now, the courts only become involved when a party requests a judicial review of a decision to determine whether there were errors of jurisdiction. Plant said he would also consider whether the commission or the tribunal needs more power -- or encouragement -- to resolve minor disputes without need for public hearings, which can drag on for days at enormous cost to the public purse and to respondents. Complainants receive free legal services regardless of income or resources; respondents are eligible for legal aid only after a means test. Bill Black, the University of B.C. professor who conducted the legislative review that led to the creation of the commission and the tribunal to replace the B.C. Council of Human Rights in 1997, has his own ideas for reform. But he's not keen to see a dismantling of the tribunal, a move that would make B.C. an anomaly in Canada. (In fact, at the federal level, where only six per cent of cases are referred to tribunal compared to 15 per cent in B.C., a recommendation is being considered that would see complaints filed directly to tribunal for either dismissal or decision.) Forcing human-rights cases into court would be intimidating for some complainants, Black said, and could well increase the size of awards. Tribunal remedies are rarely as high as the $30,000 awarded the Jehovah's Witness for lost wages and damage to dignity. But he suggested governments should consider whether the court might be an option in some cases, and whether tribunals should have power to dismiss cases where the evidence of discrimination is weak. Susan Paish, a human rights lawyer who usually represents employers, said the concerns she hears most often are with the commission rather than the tribunal. "There's a fair degree of frustration on the part of business people," she stated.
The concerns:
- The process takes too long. Months, even years, can pass from the moment a complaint is filed until it's settled, during which time employers still must run their businesses.
- Investigators are sometimes insensitive to employers, questioning employees and customers about a complaint before the respondent is notified. And some are perceived as having a bias.
- There is no incentive to settle. Since legal expenses are covered, some complainants push the process all the way to tribunal -- regardless of the strength of their case -- rather than negotiate a deal or accept an apology.

The impact of being accused of a human-rights abuse can be dramatic, added Paish, a managing partner with the Fasken, Martineau DuMoulin firm. In addition to the cost of hiring lawyers and making employees available to answer questions and attend hearings, there is often a disruption to business and a loss of reputation. "Human-rights complaints are media magnets," she said, pointing to the blanket coverage given to some high-profile cases, especially when sexual harassment is involved. "To have these types of stories play out in the media month after month can be devastating to an organization." In the midst of one such sensational case -- in which University of B.C. professor Don Dutton was fined $13,000 after the tribunal found he had created a sexualized environment with a student -- then-attorney-general Ujjal Dosanjh responded to a flood of criticism by saying he might re-examine how the tribunal could better serve British Columbians. But Graeme Bowbrick, who succeeded Dosanjh as attorney- general, said the NDP's efforts have been concentrated on clearing the backlog of complaints before the commission, not changing the process. That backlog has been eliminated and the commission says it has cut the average time spent processing complaints to 12 months from three years. Bowbrick says he understands why some decisions elicit a strong public reaction, but suggested attorneys-general must "have the courage" to speak up in defence of the integrity of the process instead of jumping to make changes. "Literally thousands of British Columbians have felt that this is a place for them to go when there is a violation of their rights," he said, adding that if confidence has eroded, it's likely because of the media's fixation with a small number of controversial cases. They are the exceptions, not the rule, he added. Mary-Woo Sims, chief human-rights commissioner, said she's also disturbed by the excessive attention paid to a few cases. She said it has overshadowed important work by the commission in the areas of education and public awareness. For example, she pointed to the commission's efforts over the past year to call attention to the difficulties facing people with disabilities, and behind-the-scenes discussions with Elections B.C. to ensure disabled people have full access to the election process. Considering that the commission accepted 719 complaints last year but referred only 184 to tribunal, Sims said the screening process appears duly rigourous. But she acknowledged some cases manage to slip through when they shouldn't and end up before a tribunal. That can occur when one side or the other withholds critical information until the case is at the tribunal stage, or the parties are so entrenched that they want their "day in court" and a chance to present their side of the story. That, she said, is what happened in the poinsettias case. The employer,who owned a Shoppers Drug Mart in Victoria, and his long-term employee were at such odds that they couldn't even agree on whether the employee was fired or quit in disgust. While stating there is no doubt it was religious discrimination, Sims said she believes the two men should have been able to settle. "There's no reason why this case should have ever gone to tribunal. Like, what happened? This is a 16-year employee . . . It really boggles the mind why the employer and the complainant weren't able to come to a resolution." The commission strives to settle as many cases as possible through mediation before sending them to tribunal, but sometimes the parties won't move. "And there's nothing we can do about that," added Sims. "[Public] attention to cases that are much more iffy, but nevertheless have a foundation for proceeding, . . . tends to trivialize human rights in some people's minds," she said. "And I worry that we will have, perhaps, a move to abolish the human rights [process] in British Columbia because that has been done before." Some of the public cynicism about the process stems from a lack of understanding, she added. Even her role -- the most public of all - she had the unfettered right to choose her tenants. Other cases were more obscure. Sims said straightforward cases such as the rental one are few and far between. Activists say human-rights law often is -- and should be -- cutting edge. Shelagh Day, senior editor of the Canadian Human Rights Reporter, said it's an area that will always be controversial, but it's also a body of law that is extraordinarily important to individuals and their communities, especially when they are minorities "B.C. is very lucky," said Day, whose publication monitors human-rights developments across the country. "Things are actually happening here and I think that should be looked at as something very positive." Elsewhere in the country, where commissions are still struggling with hefty backlogs and tight resources, there is more of a tendency to dismiss complaints. "When commissions are put in this squeeze and they just try to get rid of complaints, the human rights of people are not being well served." Black said he, too, approves of the higher number of referrals to the B.C. tribunal, but noted commissions face challenges in deciding how best to direct limited resources at society's biggest problems. The tribunal has an annual budget of $1.1 million while the commission has about $5 million.
©Vancouver Sun

Human rights advocates are demanding the immediate release of a 38-year-old Congolese man who they say has been unjustly imprisoned. Bikongo Ramadhani, who cannot be deported due to the turbulent situation in his homeland, faces an indefinite prison sentence in Greece. Ramadhani, who entered the country illegally in 1991, describes his experiences with the Greek justice and prison system in a nine-page letter. He says his identification papers were destroyed in a fire during a jail riot in Patras, western Greece, in 1995 and that he has been beaten by other inmates and prison guards. Ramadhani also says his health has seriously deteriorated due to deplorable living conditions in prison. In the letter, which was made public yesterday by the Greek branch of the organisation Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE), Ramadhani states that he has been denied a fair trial and that his basic human rights have been violated. He was convicted of drug charges in 1994 and spent more than five years in prison until an appeals court ruled in his favour. Ramadhani was acquitted in November 1999 but remained in prison until January last year. He was arrested 12 months later, convicted of selling pirate CDs and sentenced to four months in prison. Ramadhani, who is currently at a Piraeus detention centre, vehemently denies the charges. "There are hundreds of such cases of foreigners waiting in prison to be deported for no reason," YRE spokesman Pavlos Rolandos told the Athens News yesterday. "It is difficult, if not impossible, for them to appeal against these deportations. The only way to reverse a decision is to take it to the Council of State and this costs a lot of money. It is too expensive and very difficult, and The New York-based Human Rights Watch has also voiced its concerns about detention conditions for foreigners in Greece. In a report issued last December, the organisation stressed that "the Greek government cannot simply warehouse migrants who cannot be sent back home. When migrant detainees are held indefinitely and do not know when, if ever, they will be released, their detention becomes arbitrary and that's a violation of international law." A joint decision taken by the ministries of public order, justice and foreign affairs states that if a deportation order cannot be executed, a court is able to order the release of the foreigner under certain conditions restricting his or her residence and employment. But, despite the decision, relatively few foreigners have been released to date.
©Athens News

The cocoa is ready to harvest in the lush hills of southwestern Ivory Coast, the world's largest producer of the bean, but there is practically no one around to pick it. The migrant workers from neighboring countries, who form the backbone of the cocoa bean labor force, have fled because of rising anti-foreigner sentiment. "There used to be 10 of us here," said Wiedu Sedek, a 26-year-old migrant from Burkina Faso. "Everyone has left except for two of us, and it is getting harder and harder to stay. The police charge us money all the time, people say they don't want us and we are afraid." Mr. Sedek and others like him are feeling the effects of increasing tension between Ivory Coast and its neighbors, most importantly Burkina Faso to the north. It is a volatile situation that adds a new level of instability to a region already wracked by civil war in Sierra Leone, growing conflict between Liberia and Guinea, periodic outbreaks of violence in Guinea-Bissau and a festering separatist movement in Senegal. Until recently, Ivory Coast avoided such problems. Felix Houphouet Boigny, who governed the country from its independence from France in 1960 until his death in 1993, preached peace and ethnic harmony. Ivory Coast attracted millions of workers from surrounding countries for its cocoa, coffee, rubber and timber industries, and today about 40 percent of its 16 million inhabitants are immigrants, including about 4 million from Burkina Faso. But the tolerance and stability that Mr. Houphouet-Boigny nurtured have evaporated in recent years, culminating in a military coup in December 1999. Long-suppressed enmity between the predominantly Muslim north - where the border with Burkina Faso divides families and clans of the same ethnic group - and the politically dominant, largely Christian center and south has burst into the open. As world commodity prices have foundered and the economy has stagnated over the last two years, some political leaders have blamed foreigners. Lootings have increased in immigrant neighborhoods, often while the police stand by and do nothing. As a result, tens of thousands of foreigners, many of whom have lived here for generations, are fleeing. The resulting labor shortage is likely to reduce the cocoa harvest this year by more than 10 percent, from an estimated 1 million tons to less than 900,000 tons, according to cocoa experts. But the real impact will probably be felt next year. Firm numbers on the exodus of immigrants are impossible to get, but the twice-weekly train from Abidjan to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital, is packed every trip, as are the daily buses and trucks. Burkinabe officials said more than 300,000 people returned from Ivory Coast in December and January. The tension has been especially high in recent weeks because the government of President Laurent Gbagbo has accused Burkina Faso of supporting a coup attempt in Ivory Coast last month. Diplomatic and military sources said there was strong evidence that Burkina Faso's president, Blaise Compaore, had backed the brief attempted uprising, which was aimed at installing his friend, Alassane Ouattara - a northerner and, like Mr.Compaore, a Muslim - as president. Mr. Compaore and Mr. Ouattara, who is living in France, deny the allegations. The sources said a military convoy had left Burkina Faso for Ivory Coast to join the armed mutineers, who occupied state television and radio stations for several hours on the night of Jan. 7. The convoy was detected by Ivorian soldiers, who scrambled a fighter jet. The convoy scattered into the underbrush and then turned back, the sources said. "Nothing related to the military happens in Burkina Faso without Compaore's knowledge and approval," said a European diplomat in the region. "While there is no direct line to Ouattara, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that it was to install him as president."
©International Herald Tribune

The Mexican president, Vicente Fox, says his government is just a few weeks away from reaching a peace agreement with Zapatista rebels in the southern state of Chiapas. He said an accord was very important -- but equally vital was the integration of indigenous communities into Mexico's development. However, he declined to comment on whether negotiations with the rebels had been opened. They were suspended in 1996 and the rebels have laid down preconditions for returning to the negotiating table. Since taking office in December, Mr Fox has met several demands, including the release from prison of Zapatista supporters and the withdrawal of troops from four military bases in Chiapas.
©BBC News

Troops, riot police and helicopters have been deployed in Vietnam's central highlands following a wave of ethnic unrest. Hotels in Daklak and Gia Lai provinces have been barred from taking tourists for a week and tour agencies have reportedly been instructed to advise foreign holidaymakers that the ban could remain in force for as long as a month. Thousands of members of ethnic minorities have taken part in the demonstrations, some of which have turned violent. Reports say they are angry that the government has turned ancestral forests into the country's largest coffee-growing region, which has brought in lowland Vietnamese settlers. The central highlands are home to many of the country's 54 ethnic minority hill tribes. The BBC correspondent in Hanoi says the protesters - some of whom are protestants - may also have been angered by government restrictions on their religious rights. Residents said Daklak's capital Buon Ma Thuot and Gia Lai's capital Gia Lai, appeared calm on Thursday. But outlying villages remained tense after two weeks of protests - the biggest for many years in communist Vietnam. Reports said some of the demonstrations had turned violent, with protesters blocking a national highway, overturning vehicles and attacking a post office and telephone switchboard. Residents said police and soldiers had set up roadblocks to prevent demonstrators reaching the provincial capitals and military helicopters had made frequent patrols. The country's largest wildlife reserve, the Yok Don National Park, a major tourist attraction, has been closed for days due to the unrest. The demonstrations have brought together people from the region's many ethnic minorities, including the three biggest - the Jarai, Ede and Bahnar - who between them number more than 600,000 people. The region has long resisted control from various governments, generating resistance movements which fought first the French, then the US-backed Saigon regime and then the communists. Reports say the central government has remained tight-lipped about the extent of the unrest, and the official press has made no mention at all of any protests. ©BBC News

Compensation payments following a bridge disaster in China have generated a row over whether town dwellers are worth more than farmers. Forty people were killed when the Rainbow Bridge in Chongqing in south-west China collapsed two years ago, sparking a nationwide campaign against shoddy building standards. Now the levels of payment to relatives of victims is causing renewed controversy. Urban people have been awarded $5,400 each - more than twice the $2,600 doled out to people from rural communities. Officials said the compensation reflected different average incomes. But several national newspapers criticised the officials for implying that farmers' lives were cheaper than those of city dwellers. The China Daily said the assumption that farmers need less so we give them less was unfair and humiliating and broke the constitutional principle that all citizens should be equal. The paper said the award reflected continuing discrimination and prejudice against rural people. It argued that while millions of migrant workers help to build China's cities, many people see them as a source of instability and believe they should be excluded from elegant urban areas. The debate highlights unease in Chinese society at the widening wealth gap between city residents and the 70% of the population who live in the countryside. The subject is particularly sensitive given the ruling Communist Party's original role as the representative of the oppressed peasantry.
©BBC News

Germany has reported a 40% increase in racist attacks as a new survey shows that almost every second young East German thinks that the Nazi regime "had its good side". Overall, racist crime in Germany, which includes displaying Nazi symbols and shouting Nazi slogans, rose by 45% last year. Interior Minister Otto Schilly described it as a "worrying increase". Between January and November last year, 13,753 right-wing, xenophobic and anti-Semitic crimes were carried out compared with 9,456 in the same period the previous year. Almost half the crimes took place in the former East Germany, though only 21% of the country's population lives there and far fewer foreigners live there than in the west. "The regional emphasis of the violence is clearly East Germany, including Berlin," said Mr Schilly in an interview with Die Woche newspaper. He also said that the perpetrators in the east were younger and more militant than those in the west - two thirds of the attackers in the east were under 21. "The system in the GDR has left behind a great trail of spiritual and mental destruction," he said. A survey into young people's attitudes by the Forsa Institute also showed a regional divide - 47% of 14 to 25-year-old East Germans think the Nazi ideology had its good sides compared with 35% of young West Germans. Forty-six per cent of East Germans think there are too many foreigners in Germany, compared with 40% of those in the West. Right-wing views seemed stronger among East German high school students - 61% think there are too many foreigners, 62% that Nazism has its good side and 15% think Nazi ideology is "in itself a good idea". Mr Schilly said the government was considering a proposed foreign exchange programme for young East Germans to foster tolerance through contact with other cultures. Last week a formal request to ban the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party was presented to Germany's constitutional court. Far-right crimes became the focus of national debate last summer after a bomb attack on a group of foreigners in Dusseldorf and the murder of a Mozambican man by skinheads.
©BBC News

Hungary's first independent gypsy radio station, called Radio C, begins broadcasting on Sunday. The new radio's editor-in-chief Gyoergy Kerenyi hopes it will help to break the isolation of the large gypsy population and bring about it's "emancipation". The radio, based in the capital Budapest, hopes to reach the 100,000-strong gypsy community in and around Budapest. Hungarian television said Radio C has recruited an initial staff of 40 talented young Roma, as they are also known. They say they want to to show their community what they call "a way out" of their current difficult position and to make their life more "liveable". They offer a range of documentary and informative programmes on issues such as mixed marriages and, as the title of one programme says, "Those who have managed to break out". One staff member told the television: "There is an increasing number of gypsies who do not want to live on the dole, they do not want to be a parasite on society. They want to do something for their prosperity." By promising Roma jokes and Roma music, Radio C also wants its programme to be light enough to attract a large audience. Radio C has invited members of the gypsy community to visit its studio and bring along their own music to set up the radio's own music archive. But Radio C also wants to be interesting enough to appeal to the rest of society. The radio would also like to break down the barriers between gypsies and the market place. "Advertisers should discover Roma as consumers," Mr Kerenyi said. "We think it can give a major boost to the emancipation of gypsies, which is taking place in other areas." Radio C will start its operation under a one-month provisional licence on the VHF frequency of 88.8 MHz, but it hopes to acquire a seven-year licence in a current bid for regional public servivce radio frequencies. The long struggle to set up a radio station for the gypsy community goes back to before the fall of Communism. Radio C has been set up with the help of the European Union's Eastern European reconstruction fund. The Hungarian Independent Media Centre and the Roma Press Centre have organised nine-month journalist courses - with a three-month intensive course and a six-month on-the-job training period - for young Roma people, free of charge. Radio C is only one of several initiatives by the gypsy community to establish its own social and cultural institutions. These efforts include a local cable TV studio set up by the local gypsy Self-Government in Mateszalka, in the northeast - one of Hungary's least developed regions with a large Roma community. Hungary's Roma population is estimated to be about 700,000, around 7% of the population, and this proportion is rising. Politicians and analysts agree that this community has been the hardest hit by Hungary's transition to a market economy, when many of them lost their low-skilled, low-paid jobs.
©BBC News

Volker Dahm, a Munich-based historian, has said there needs to be an urgent correction of the legal tools available to combat the use of National Socialist (Nazi) symbols. Otherwise there was a danger that the relevant articles in Germany's penal code could become irrelevant. Dahm has published his study of current legal practice in a paper entitled "Carte Blanche for Right-Wing Extremists?" In his contribution to the latest edition of the Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte (Contemporary History Quarterlies), Dahm concludes that a "secondary area of confrontation" has emerged over and above the violent crimes committed by neo-Nazis. The use of anti-constitutional symbols pitched police and justice against "greater difficulties than the pursuit of crime and the investigation of right-wing-motivated crimes of violence." He notes that measured against actual court practice, the legal position is anything but clear. Article 86a of the Penal Code forsees a prison term of up to three years for anyone caught with "flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greetings" used by "anti-constitutional" organisations. Swastikas, SS runes and the "Heil Hitler" greeting are thus illegal in Germany. Yet the spectrum of extreme right-wing symbols is far broader than just that. In his list, Dahm includes "any NSDAP- sanctioned regalia"; i.e., the triangles worn by the "Hitler Youth" (HJ) and the "Bund Deutscher Mädels" (Federation of German Maidens, BDM). The Nazis laid down precisely how the insignia should be worn: the triangle had to be "sewn on securely in the exact centre of the garment's left upper sleeve, horizontal to all edges and parallel to the armband, the lower edge two fingers above the armband," according to HJ regulations unearthed by Dahm. Neo-Nazis today use the cloth triangle in a modified form, which in 1997 resulted in a young man from Saxony state going on trial in Upper Bavaria to answer charges relating to the same. The public prosecutor accused him of wearing a sew-on badge at a gathering of the far-right whose appearance was confusingly similar to that of BDM notoriety. The case is just one of many Dahm has examined in detail. In that instance the court acquitted the man, leading the prosecutor to launch an appeal to a higher authority. The next panel of judges in the 2nd Criminal Division of the Higher Regional Court returned the case to the first instance, but did not hesitate to direct the magistrates to consider the terms of Article 86a, which does not insist that symbols must be identical. The judges also told the second court it was sufficient if the old and the new symbols were alike enough to cause confusion. The local court acquitted the man a second time because although there was evidence of an illegal act, the accused was not aware of it. Dahm considers the case representative of "how difficult it is for the German judiciary to agree on a consistent practice in its rulings." The historian at the Institute for Contemporary History, who is constantly involved in preparing expert opinions in similar cases, stresses that he is not seeking to instigate "shabby verdict-bashing". In the final analysis, says Dahm, judges do not dream up the criteria for their rulings, but refer to legal commentaries and precedent. Thus, on the whole, says Dahm, "the real problem lies in the growing body of case law," a tendency which, if it gained roots, would in future mean that only the swastika and runes would be prohibited. The only way to prevent this is for either a Federal High Court to set a precedent or legislators to undertake an "urgent" correction of this practice. But whichever is decided on, adds Dahm, "speed is of the essence".
©Frankfurter Rundschau

Pakistan's military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf renewed a call Monday for peace talks with India to settle the decades-old Kashmir dispute. Addressing thousands of Kashmiris living in a refugee camp outside the capital of the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir, Musharraf said he is ready to talk if India sets no preconditions — a stance he has taken since coming to power in a bloodless coup in October 1999. ``If conditions are going to be set then we will also set conditions,'' said Musharraf, who was on a tour of Pakistan-held Kashmir to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day, a national holiday in Pakistan. He urged Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to ``agree to take steps forward for peace and I promise that I, and the whole Pakistani nation, will move forward for peace and we can meet somewhere in the middle.'' There was no immediate response from India, but New Delhi has earlier refused to talk to Pakistan unless Islamabad first puts an end to cross-border incursions by militants waging a struggle to detach the Indian-ruled part of Kashmir from India. The 12-year insurgency has left 30,000 people dead. India says Pakistan is arming and training the militants, who freely cross the border that divides the Himalayan state between the two neighbors. Pakistan says its support is political and moral. The flash point of two wars between the nuclear neighbors, Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan after British rule ended in 1947. The secessionists in Indian Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state in predominantly Hindu India, are demanding either outright independence or union with Muslim Pakistan. As Musharraf spoke, young men in the refugee camp shouted slogans calling for a united Kashmir under the Pakistani flag. Musharraf dismissed allegations that militant secessionists were terrorists, calling them ``freedom fighters.''
©Associated Press

President Vicente Fox said Saturday he plans to press President Bush to grant amnesty to Mexicans living and working illegally in the United States, the latest sign of a growing debate on immigration between the two countries. Bush and Fox are scheduled to meet Feb. 16 in Mexico during what will be Bush's first foreign visit since taking office last month. During his weekly radio address Saturday, Fox said he would ask Bush to work toward better treatment of Mexican immigrants in the United States. If they were granted amnesty by the U.S. government, Mexicans could receive the education and health benefits they deserve, Fox said. Since he took office Dec. 1, ending more than 70 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, Fox has come up with several proposals to ease the plight of Mexicans fleeing to the United States. U.S. leaders have been lukewarm to his idea of expanding the North American Free Trade. Agreement into a common market that would eventually allow the free movement of workers — an idea that would have to take place after Mexican wages became more competitive, Fox has said. Still, the Bush administration and several members of Congress appear willing take part in a debate on improving the lives of illegal Mexican immigrants. Texas Republican Sen. Phil Gramm, often a foe of legislation designed to ease U.S. immigration laws, has said he will push to create a guest worker program for illegal immigrant laborers from Mexico. And Secretary of State Colin Powell has expressed concern about the large number of undocumented Mexican immigrants who die from exposure and other causes while trying to enter the United States. Fox said other topics he wanted to discuss with Bush included the U.S. economic slowdown and the fight against drug smuggling. Mexico sends more than 80 percent of its exports to the United States and has enjoyed several years of economic growth fueled in part by the U.S. economy's success. However, Fox has tried to protect his country's economy from being hit hard by U.S. economic troubles.
©Associated Press

A raft carrying North Africans hoping to sneak into Spain hit rocks and capsized as it headed ashore in strong winds, killing 10 people, officials said Monday. The bodies of seven men and a woman were found before dawn Monday on a beach near Tarifa in Cadiz province. Several hours later rescuers found the bodies of two other men, and the wrecked remains of the motorized rubber raft they had all been traveling in. The Interior Ministry office in the provincial capital said police and other rescuers were searching the water and beach for survivors or more bodies. The total number of people in the motorized rubber raft was not known. The ministry said the raft likely capsized around 3 a.m. Monday. One ministry official said the victims were apparently Moroccans. Separately, coast guard ships searched Monday for a raft reported adrift with up to 30 people aboard off the coast of Almeria at Spain's southeast tip after setting sail Sunday from the Moroccan city of Nador. Authorities were alerted Sunday night by the first of several mobile-telephone calls from one of the people aboard. ``They don't know where they are. They have not seen land at any time, just a few ships,'' said Miguel Zea, head of maritime rescue services in Almeria. The phone calls stopped before dawn, apparently when the phone's battery went dead. Spain's center-right government has pushed through a strict new law to clamp down on illegal immigration. Every year thousands of North Africans fleeing poverty try to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, paying large sums to traffickers who arrange dangerous trips in overcrowded vessels that sometimes are barely seaworthy. Most are caught and some die trying. Last year, authorities recovered 55 bodies of people who tried to enter southern Spain illegally.
©Associated Press

Some 200 Holocaust survivors and members of Jewish groups gathered outside a Paris prison Sunday and said former Vichy official Maurice Papon should remain behind bars despite the old age and declining health his lawyers say are cause for his release. The peaceful protest came amid a fierce debate in France over the fate of Papon, 90, who is serving a 10-year jail term for crimes against humanity for his role in deporting French Jews to Nazi death camps. ``Papon killed, assassinated and tortured,'' said 74-year old Judith Pachtovez, who said many of her relatives died in the Holocaust. ``He's alive. He's eating. How dare he say his penalty is too severe.'' Papon's lawyers asked the European Court of Human Rights last month to order his release. They say he is oldest man in a French prison and that a 10-year sentence is inhuman punishment for someone his age. The European court recently agreed to speed up its hearing of Papon's appeal, and public debate in France intensified when a Jewish politician, former Justice Minister Robert Badinter, said he should be freed. Papon was convicted in 1998 for his role in the arrest and deportation of 1,500 Jews while he was police supervisor in the Gironde region of southwestern France. He fled to Switzerland after the conviction but was subsequently arrested and began serving his sentence in Paris' La Sante prison in October 1999. Papon had triple coronary bypass several years ago and had a pacemaker implanted last January. Memorial plaques to some of those deported to death camps under Papon's command — aged from 5 months to 88 years old — were leaned against the prison's stone walls Sunday. ``We are here to recall the memory of the elderly, of women and of infants who were deported by Maurice Papon in spite of their age,'' said Patrick Klugman, vice president of the Union of Jewish Students of France. Yves Kamami, president of B'nai B'rith France, said it would be ``inhumane'' to release Papon. ``Mr. Papon has expressed no regret, no remorse and no justification for what he did,'' Kamami said. ``It is imperative to not let Mr. Papon out.''
©Associated Press

British immigration officers are being sent to Bosnia to stem the tide of illegal migrants passing through the Balkans to Western Europe. Around 20 officials are initially being sought to work with Bosnian authorities as they attempt to secure their borders. Officials from Italy are also expected to take part in the operation. An estimated 50,000 illegal immigrants are believed to have entered the West via Bosnia in the first 10 months of last year. According to the United Nations, this accounts for about 10 per cent of illegal immigration into the European Union, with the gangs in the trade charging an average of £2,700 a person. Further measures to stem the trade are expected when EU immigration and interior ministers meet in Stockholm this week. John Tincey, of the Immigration Service Union, said the Balkans had long been "the backdoor into fortress Europe". However, the restoring of political stability in the region was now making it possible for action to be taken. The British and Italian teams will help the authorities in Bosnia weed out those with forged papers. Barbara Roche, the immigration minister, said: "We are determined to crack down on this." Sarajevo has become a staging post for Syrians, Iranians and Tunisians arriving as "tourists" via Istanbul. The flow of migrants would be stemmed when the Bosnian authorities required visitors from these countries to have visas before being allowed in, said Mr Tincey. The Government has introduced a number of measures to deter bogus asylum seekers, including the introduction of vouchers rather than cash benefits for applicants. However, the Anglo-Italian co-operation is part of a wider pattern of co-ordination across Europe as governments realise that they cannot act alone. Mr Tincey said: "They are learning if you play pass the parcel with asylum seekers, the parcels only get bigger."
©Daily Telegraph

Police ignored the lessons of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry in a botched investigation into a suspected race murder on the South Coast two years ago, a report by an outside force has concluded. Sussex Police were guilty of failings in their investigation into the killing in January 1999 of Jay Abatan, 42, an accountant who died after being struck over the head outside a Brighton nightclub. The report found that potential evidence had been lost at the crime scene and at the hospital where Mr Abatan died, and that opportunities to find witnesses were passed up. Paperwork was "sloppy" and in some instances appeared to have been altered. The initial response by CID was slow, no senior officer took overall command of the inquiry, there was poor management of the investigation and no computer records were kept. The report said: "There were no records of inquiries to ascertain if the victim spoke to medical staff before he died. The purpose of house-to-house inquiries was unclear and the use of pieces of paper to record their results was unacceptable and dangerous." No thought had gone into investigating the possibility that the attack had been racially motivated. Lessons learned from the MacPherson Report into the killing of Stephen Lawrence in south London were "not taken on board". Michelle Adebisi, Mr Abatan's sister who had flown from her home in Nigeria to meet officers last week, said: "We have been failed by Sussex Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the criminal justice system." Less than a fortnight ago, Sussex Police announced it was opening a new investigation into the murder. Detective Superintendent Ken Probert, in charge of the new inquiry, said a possible race motive would be investigated. Nigel Yeo, Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable, accepted that the review had shown there had been "very real failings" but said the responsibility did not rest on any one person's shoulders. He said: "We should have done much better. It is important to bear in mind that the previous investigation resulted in two people being charged." Two men had been arrested but were released for lack of evidence. They then appeared in court charged with assaulting Mr Abatan's brother Michael, but were acquitted.
©Daily Telegraph

Researchers have found the majority of Australians believe single women and lesbians who want babies should be denied access to sperm banks. The poll is the first since a court ruled last year that single women should have access to in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, including sperm banks. Conducted by Roy Morgan Research and the Monash Institute of Reproduction, the survey has concluded a record high 85% approve of IVF programmes for married couples who cannot have children. However, just 31% say they approve of lesbians being allowed access to sperm banks, even if they pay all costs, and just 38% approved of single women having the same privilege. Australians are overwhelmingly in favour of the state health system paying for married couples to receive IVF treatment, with 79% approving.

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has accused controversial US rap star Eminem of promoting prejudice against homosexuals. Eminem, 28 - who has been both hailed and severely criticised for his edgy, violent lyrics - is flying to Britain this week to perform at three concerts. On Sunday, Tatchell - who fronts the protest group Outrage! - said he and other gay activists wanted to stage demonstrations against Eminem's "homophobia". "His homophobic jibes help make bigotry cool and acceptable," he said. "He is deliberately avoiding public enagagements in order to deny us a chance to confront him. "It is very difficult to do anything at the concerts as security is so tight." Eminem's tracks include Stan - about an obsessed music fan who drowns his girlfriend. In Role Model, his alter ego Slim Shady talks about hitting his mother with a shovel. And in another track, the performer, whose real name is Marshall Mathers III, includes lines about putting fear into and killing "faggots". But the star's grandmother spoke out in defence of her grandson ahead of his mini-tour of the UK. "No I do not think he's a bad boy, I love my grandson," said Betty Kresin, interviewed from Missouri on GMTV on Monday. However, she did add that she did not approve of all of his work. "I don't like his lyrics but he's not the only one in rap that's got these lyrics," she added. In the US, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has also criticised the singer and accused himof sexism and homophobia. They are also angry that Eminem has been nominated for four awards at the Grammys. They are joined by the San Francisco-based Family Violence Prevention Fund which has launched a "No to Eminem" campaign to keep him away from the awards ceremony on 21 February. Last week, Eminem's records were banned from Sheffield University's students' union, following complaints from students about the his anti-gay lyrics. But Eminem also has an undoubtedly large following among young music fans. His album Marshall Mathers has sold 10 million copies worldwide. He plays his first British concert at Manchester on Thursday before playing two dates in London. However, there is some doubt over whether he will be able to start his first concert with hisnotorious Texas Chainsaw Massacre act. Manchester city council has said that if he brings a chainsaw on stage it must be switched off to comply with health and safety regulations.
©BBC News

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Norwegian capital, Oslo, in protest at the killing of a black teenager which is being blamed on neo-Nazis. The attack on 15-year-old Benjamin Hermansen in an Oslo suburb last Friday has shocked Norway and is being described as the country's first racially-motivated killing. "The killer's knife took a life, but it also did something else: It cut into our basic values," Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told the crowd. Two neo-Nazis are being held in connection with the murder. One, a 21-year-old man, has been charged with premeditated murder. The other, a girl of 17, is accused of complicity to murder. Police released three other neo-Nazis detained after the attack, although they may still face charges. A sixth is being sought. All are linked to a group known as the Boot Boys and were arrested in an Oslo flat filled with Nazi memorabilia. The torch-lit demonstration, some 30,000-strong, was among the largest ever seen in Oslo. Benjamin's class mates led the march, carrying candles and banners denouncing racism. Thousands more people attended anti-Nazi rallies in other cities. "Tonight we join together to create a Norway for everyone regardless of race or colour," Mr Stoltenberg said. "We will fight this in every way we can." The prime minister has described the murder as a watershed in the country's history. Crown Prince Haakon, also present at the rally, has joined calls for a public campaign against racism, saying he was shaken by the murder. Benjamin Hermansen - the son of a Norwegian woman and a Ghanaian man - was well known as a campaigner against racism. Police say he was selected at random by his killers, who had simply gone out on the town in search of an appropriate victim. He was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach and chest. The authorities believe there are probably about 150 active hardcore neo-Nazis in Norway's population of 4.4 million.
©BBC News

A powerful blast damaged a monument to the victims of fascism in Zagreb's main cemetery on Thursday but caused no injuries, state media reported. Prime Minister Ivica Racan called the blast a terrorist act and said it was directed "not only against the victims of fascism but against democracy, stability and the peaceful life of Croatian citizens". Police sealed off a large part of the Mirogoj cemetery. Spokesman Slavko Rako told state television no one was injured in the blast but had no other comment pending further investigation. No one has so far claimed responsibility for the blast.
©Central Europe Online

The Ku Klux Klan lost a fight against a new waiting period to hold rallies in a predominantly black city after a judge rejected the group's attempt to have the rule declared unconstitutional. Gary Mayor Scott King last month changed the waiting period from seven days to 45 on the same day the city rejected a Klan request to hold a rally around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. U.S. District Court Judge James T. Moody said Thursday that the Church of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based in Butler, had failed to rebut the city's explanations for the rule, primarily that it takes the city 45 days to evaluate, process and approve a permit application. ``I hope they dry up and blow off the face of the earth,'' King said when asked about the Klan's efforts. ``Barring that, I hope they just stay away from Gary.'' ``It is so hurtful to so many people. It's really contemptible,'' he said. Ken Falk, legal director for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union who represented the Klan at Thursday's hearing, said the Klan will decide its next step after the city decides whether to grant it a rally permit for March. He said the 45-day waiting period was excessive. ``There's no indication of why it should take 45 days when the city of Chicago can do it in seven,'' he said. However, attorney James Meyer, who represented the city, said that unlike Chicago, Gary is 85 percent black. ``You can't say how visceral their reaction will be to the Klan, who not too long ago were lynching their relatives,'' Meyer said. Gary Police Chief John Roby had said in an affidavit that the city's police force of 200 officers was not big enough to handle such a rally. The American Knights have held high-profile rallies near the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in years past. A rally two years ago in Memphis, Tenn., two days before the King holiday set off a rock-throwing scuffle. Last year, about 50 Klan members rallied on the steps of a courthouse in Alabama.
©Associated Press

Aboriginal rights activist Murrandoo Yanner says the acquittal of two Torres Strait Islanders, charged with robbing commercial fishermen, will have far-reaching ramifications. The District Court in Cairns has found Benjamin Ali Nona and George Agnew Gesa, of Murray Island, not guilty of stealing coral trout from three fishermen in 1998. Mr Yanner says the case sets a precedent for indigenous people to retrieve their natural resources by 'whatever means necessary'. "I certainly hope it looks at natural resources, not just fish because there's a lot of that going on," he said. "People are not just taking fish from right in front of our communities, they're taking trees from your backyard, minerals basically from under your feet and I think they need to be rationalised and kept sustainable as much as the fishing industry, the forestry and the mining industry and they both need a bit of a livening up and here we might have it." Mer Island Council's Sea Rights and Fisheries spokesman James Bon is calling for new laws to protect the traditional rights of Torres Strait Islanders. "There's a lot of commercial fishermen that have been part of our region for a long time and their fathers have been there for a long time, so I think it's only fair to say that all parties, the non-indigenous fishermen of our region and the Torres Strait Islanders, should come together and hold some sort of a workshop to put all these laws together," he said. "It benefits everybody in our region, not only a certain group which the Government has favoured for the last 100 years. "Everybody in the Torres Strait knows their respective boundary lines as far as reefs are concerned. "I hope they respect what the jury has found here, finding the boys not guilty. "We don't want to see another trial like this again, it's to benefit all of us that live in the region, not just the individual."
©Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The population census that is to take place in the spring months of 2001 will not use bilingual questionnaires in Slovak and Romanes. In the governmental resolution of 20 December 2000 the government decided bilingual population census questionnaires will be issued only in Hungarian, Ukrainian and Ruthenian. Romanes, spoken by the wide majority of the 480,000 Roma living in Slovakia, is not included in this proposed plan. While Romani leaders have protested against the government's recent discrimination in an open letter, the government is likely to argue that the public use of Romanes is problematic. When questioned about the use of Romanes in schools and government offices, the government argues that the standardization of Romanes has not yet taken place. The dialects of Romanes spoken in the Eastern part of the country differ from those spoken in the central and western part of Slovakia. This, argue the authorities, is a clear violation of several articles of the Slovak Constitution. However, the decision not to use the bilingual Slovak-Romanes questionnaires violates law No 428/1990, which necessitates the usage of the minority language in municipal districts where that minority comprises at least 20 per cent of the local population. There are 57 villages inSlovakia in which Roma make up at least 20 percent of the population.
©Central Europe Review

We, African NGOs, as well as African and other international civil society organisations, meeting in Dakar during the period 20-21 January 2001 for the preparation of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in South Africa in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 52/111,
REAFFIRM that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and inalienable, irrespective of distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, gender, language, national or ethnic identity, social origin, disability, sexual orientation, age and religion.
RECOGNISE that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and have the capacity to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies and, that all human societies, especially African societies are based on the shared values of tolerance, solidarity and multiculturalism;
NOTE WITH CONCERN the persistence and increase of racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in all the continents, as well as the existence of contemporary forms of these phenomena;
ACKNOWLEDGE that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are mainly due to the ignorance and rejection of others as well as the will of some groups to dominate others for economic, political, social and cultural purposes;
CONSIDER that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are the roots of large-scale violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and that they often occur in the form of marginalisation, exclusion, pauperisation, ethnic cleansing and genocide; and as such, they constitute a threat to all human societies and to their fundamental values;
REAFFIRM that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance constitute gross violations of human rights and must be addressed with all appropriate means, including legal means;
CONSIDER that the slave trade, colonialism, policies of racial segregation and Apartheid are the most hideous forms of racism and racial and ethnic discrimination suffered by the African continent and people of African descent and which caused severe human, economic, political, social, psychological and cultural loss;
ACKNOWLEDGE the traumatic effects of historical trans-Atlantic slave trade, traditional and contemporary forms of slavery and bondage that continue to haunt the victims and arrest their ability to achieve their full potential as equal citizens of the world and condemn the attitudes and indifference of the international community who continue to ignore the practice of contemporary forms of slavery;
CONSIDER that in Africa racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are mainly prompted by motives relating to language, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, skin complexion, and are directed against such people as refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, stateless persons, migrant workers, natives, ethnic minorities, HIV/AIDS affected people, the disabled;
RECALL the positive role played by the international community in supporting the African peoples in their struggle against Colonialism and Apartheid in the Southern African region;
NOTE that, despite the efforts of the United Nations Organisation to combat racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, these phenomena are still persistent and affect the lives of millions of Africans or persons of African origin in other parts of the world;
RECOGNISE that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination and xenophobia affect women differently, aggravate their living conditions, generating multiple forms of discrimination and limits or negates the full enjoyment and exercise of their human rights;
RECOGNISE with concern the increase in trafficking and sexual and other forms of exploitation of African women and girls. This victimisation is aggravated by migration and by armed conflict that engulf much of Africa at the present time;
WELCOME the addition of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination General Recommendations XXV on Gender Related Dimensions of Racial Discrimination, and we call on Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women to include a general recommendation on the Racial Dimensions of Gender Discrimination.
NOTE with great concern that many Africans infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS as well as those who are presumed to be infected, belong to vulnerable groups in which racism, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation and other forms of discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance have a negative impact and impede access to health and medication;
CONSIDER the special relationship that indigenous people have with their land as the basis of their physical and cultural existence and recalling that they have been victims of discrimination and environmental racism which have degraded their cultural systems, devastated their resources, and had led to political and economic disempowerment;
NOTE with concern that the benefits of globalisation are far outweighed by the negative effects such as the increased discrimination, marginalisation, and exclusion of African countries which is leading to a complete domination of the world's resources and wealth in the hands of a few races and excluding others;
RECOGNISE the important role to be played by African youth and young adults and welcome their involvement in the preparatory processes of the World Conference Against Racism and that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination and xenophobia impacts young men and women differently;
DENOUNCE environmental racism of which Africa is bearing a disproportionate share of the burden of environmental deterioration represented by dumping of toxic wastes, dangerous working and living conditions, and dangerous and unregulated methods of extracting natural resources;
BEAR in mind the situation of vulnerability in which migrants frequently find themselves owing to their absence from their state of origin and to the difficulties they encounter because of differences in language, custom, gender and culture, as well as the economic and social difficulties and obstacles for the return of undocumented migrants and noting with grave concern that migrants have been turned into scapegoats for real or perceived economic or social problems;
NOTE with concern that Africa is host to a large number of refugees and internally displaced persons, most of who are women and children, and that many of them are not protected by the relevant international, regional, sub-regional instruments or national legislation and consequently are more vulnerable to discrimination and xenophobia;

WE RECOMMEND that the African Regional Conference as well as the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance:

1. Encourage all States to enact effective legal provisions for the punishment of acts of racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia, slavery, exclusion and related intolerance, and to take measures for the effective enforcement of those legislations;
2. Recognise and declare that the slave trade, slavery and colonialism inflicted on the African Continent and the Diaspora constitute crimes against humanity;
3. Accept the right of the African peoples of the continent and in the Diaspora, to just and fair compensatory measures which include repartition, apologies, and pledges of non-repetition of outrages suffered by Africans, regardless of who the perpetrators were and call for international cooperation in the achievement of these goals;
4. Request those African States, which have not done so, to ratify all conventions relating to the elimination of racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia, slavery and related intolerance, and to harmonize their national legislations with the aforesaid treaties;
5. Encourage all States to implement national policies and plans of action aimed at fighting racism -- institutional or otherwise -- racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia, slavery, exclusion and related intolerance, and to promote partnership relationship with civil society, mainly through national human rights institutions;
6. Design educational curricula that are likely to promote acceptance of others, non-discrimination and mutual understanding among peoples and to strengthen solidarity;
7. Request all States to take specific measures for the protection of vulnerable groups, especially women, children, youth, the disabled, people with HIV/AIDS, refugees, indigenous populations;
8. Request all States to take measures to put an end to trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls, especially in cases of migration and armed conflicts;
9. Recommend that the media adopt codes of conduct, which prohibit the diffusion of ideas propagating racial hatred and discrimination, and promote the values of mutual respect and tolerance among all peoples;
10. Encourage all States to take steps for strengthening the autonomy and capacity of African media to actively contribute to the production and dissemination of objective information and images about the continent and its people;
11. Appeal to the international community to influence non-State actors, especially multinational corporations and armed groups, so that their activities do not contribute to fostering racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and to take appropriate measures likely to put an end to the impunity of those actors;
12. Call upon all African states to incorporate a gender perspective into all programmes of action against racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance in order to address the phenomenon of multiple discrimination against women;
13. Strongly recommend the utilisation of the WCAR to create consensus around monitoring and remedying the intersectional discrimination suffered by women from subordinated racial and ethnic groups and urge all African states to submit to the various treaty bodies data disaggregated by gender, race and ethnicity and that gender should be mainstreamed into all the reporting processes;
14. Urge that a comprehensive approach be used in the realisation and enforcement of basic rights, such as the right to health, education, and work, without discrimination against all those infected and affected by HIV, including those who are of same sex orientation;
15. Recommend that all States assure full and free participation of indigenous people in all phases of decision making, particularly in relation to subjects of concern to them and in their determination of their own priorities for the development of their land, including control of their natural resources;
16. Strongly urge the international community to take all necessary measures to maximize the possible benefits of globalisation through strengthening cooperation and the creation of a fair and just environment for increased opportunities for trade, economic growth, and sustainable development, global communication through the use of new technologies and increased intercultural exchange through the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity;
17. Strongly urge the African governments to fully reinforce legislation and policies that protect society from dangerous practices that tend to pollute the environment and demand multinational corporations to abide by international safety norms and offer compensatory measures to affected communities and guarantee a healthy and sustainable existence for all members of society;
18. Recommend the universal ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families as encouraged in several resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights and the General Assembly and review where necessary the modification of immigration policies, legislations and programs of the states of origin, transit, and destination which have racist content or effect, with a view to eliminating all discriminatory policies and practices against migrants;
19. Take immediate action to recognize the status of all refugees and internally displaced persons in all African countries and provide them with the necessary protection.
20. Adopt measures to include youth participation at all levels of the preparatory processes leading to the WCAR.
WCAR NGO Secretariat

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