COMBAT RACISM IN FOOTBALL
BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON RACISM
UEFA has called on Europe's top referees to make their contribution to eliminating racism from football.

Course call
The call was made by UEFA's director of competition operations, Jacob Erel, to a meeting of more than 100 élite, first-category and new international referees gathered on the Greek island of Corfu for the annual UEFA referee courses.

Dangerous for our game
"UEFA considers the phenomenon of racism and xenophobia to be very dangerous for our game," said Erel. "It undermines football, and is like a cancer which may damage the game and the revenue which benefits national associations, clubs, players and each individual within the football family.

Pan-European problem
"Most European nations continue to experience racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism, which frequently occurs at football matches," added Erel. "Perhaps the universality of our game attracts hooligans to use football matches to express their hatred of minorities or other ethnic groups."

Plan of action
UEFA is leading a wide-ranging campaign to drive racism out of football, and has issued a ten-point plan of action in conjunction with the Football Against Racism in Europe network. The plan lists a variety of measures that clubs and associations can take against officials, players and spectators who engage in racist conduct.

Various forms
"You will have seen and heard racism expressed in its various forms at matches in which you have officiated," Erel told the referees. "Chanting, in particular against black players, the harassment of players, referees and spectators, and banners.

Serious action
"Each one of us has to take serious action to exclude racism from football," he added. Erel called for referees to report racist incidents that occured on or off the pitch, between players and towards players from the grandstands. "If you see a banner as a referee, please draw this to the attention of the match delegate," he said.

Breaking barriers
"Football should be a bridge between societies, ethnic groups and minorities, and break barriers in our society," said Erel. "We have to do our utmost to ensure that football is clean of any kind of racism."

UNIQUE ANTI-RACISM CONFERENCE TO BE HELD
UEFA, the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network and the English Football Association are to stage a unique anti-racism conference in London early next month.

European presence
Europe's national associations, leagues and clubs are gathering together for the conference at Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge venue in London on 5 March. Representatives of all 52 UEFA member associations and many leading leagues and clubs from across Europe will be in attendance.

Draft guide
The conference will include presentations by senior European football personalities, in-depth workshops and a panel session including players who are active in the campaign against racism. A draft guide to steps that should be taken to tackle racism in European football will be published at the conference, as part of a renewed drive to kick racism out of football across Europe.

Ten-point plan of action
UEFA and FARE have intensified their campaign to eliminate racism from football in recent months. Last autumn, the two bodies issued a ten-point plan of action to the European football family, in which a number of measures were listed which clubs in particular can take against players, officials or spectators who engage in racist conduct.

Various measures
The measures include preventing the sale of racist literature inside and outside stadiums, introducing equal opportunities' policies in relation to employment and service provision, and adopting common strategies between stewards and police for dealing with racist abuse.

Una budget of its anti-racism activities over the next 12 months.

Referee role
Europe's referees are also being asked to make a contribution to wiping out racism in football, on and off the pitch. At their recent UEFA courses in Corfu, they were urged to report any examples of racist conduct by players or spectators to match delegates.

Undermining football
"UEFA considers the phenomenon of racism and xenophobia to be very dangerous for our game," UEFA competition operations director Jacob Erel told them. "It undermines football, and is like a cancer which may damage the game and the revenue which benefits national associations, clubs, players and each individual within the football family."
©uefa.com

CAMPAIGN CALLS FOR RACISM-FREE ELECTIONEERING(Switzerland)
Swiss anti-racism groups have urged politicians not to play the racism card during this year's electoral campaign. They say they are alarmed by the rise in racist propaganda in the run-up to October's general elections and have urged candidates from all parties to sign up to an anti-racism charter. The Fairness Campaign - launched on Friday - is the brainchild of the Swiss Forum against Racism, which represents over 30 anti-racist organisations. It says there has been a blatant rise in the use of discriminatory imagery and references in electoral campaigns since last summer. Campaigners say black asylum seekers have been particularly targeted, and they have urged parties not to single out specific cultural, ethnic and religious groups. "We've noticed that politicians have started using populist arguments concerning the law on foreigners and naturalisation and making discriminatory or even racist speeches," Hanspeter Bigler, head of the Swiss Society for Threatened Peoples, told swissinfo. The rightwing Peoples' Party has been accused of inciting racial hatred by means of a controversial poster campaign depicting asylum seekers in Switzerland.

Charter
The Forum has urged candidates from all political parties to endorse a charter pledging to respect international human rights conventions, such as the United Nations Convention Against Racism, ahead of the general election. "Politicians need to know that there are certain regulations and parameters that cannot be crossed," Bigler explains. "And it's not just the right-wing politicians. There are xenophobic tendencies in all the parties and that's why we have to make them aware of the rules they have to obey." Bigler said a survey would also be carried out among all politicians as part of the campaign. The study will look into issues of racism in relation to education, employment rights, civil rights, police violence and minority groups. The results are due to be published ahead of the election on October 19. The extent of unease over asylum seekers in Switzerland came to a head last November, when nearly half of Swiss voters supported a proposal by the People's Party to tighten asylum laws. The initiative would effectively have closed the door to 95 per cent of asylum seekers
©Swissinfo

RACISM ON THE 'INCREASE'(uk)
The Government has abandoned its anti-racist agenda since David Blunkett became Home Secretary, the mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence told a conference. Doreen Lawrence told the Unite Against Racism gathering in central London that she had challenged the Home Secretary about why the Government was no longer interested in race issues. A-level student Stephen, 18, was stabbed to death 10 years ago when he was attacked by a gang of white youths in Eltham, South East London, on April 22, 1993. His mother told the conference that she had thought that Britain was "going to turn a corner" after Stephen's death, which led to a report criticising the Metropolitan Police as institutionally racist. She said: "The Government was saying, 'This is what we want, a united Britain, and we want to move forward on that.' "After Stephen's life was lost I thought we would have more people saying: 'This is where we draw the line. We can't allow this to keep happening.' "But we've begun to get complacent again. We think it's not my child, my friend, so it's okay. We have got to change that." She added: "I believe that tackling racism is no longer the agenda of the Government". The conference heard that racism had increased over the past 10 years and that levels of racial violence had increased and the cause of asylum seekers had been "greatly harmed by the Government".
©Sky News

BLACK EDITOR SLAMS POLICE SEARCH(uk)
The editor of a leading black newspaper is set to sue the Metropolitan Police after he and his girlfriend were subjected to a humiliating stop and search ordeal. Michael Eboda, editor of the New Nation newspaper, had travelled up to Manchester last weekend to watch a football match with his girlfriend, Yvonne. The pair returned to London on Sunday and were pulling into the driveway of his home in Clapton, east London, when he was ordered to pull over by four armed police officers. At least 30 more officers then arrived, many armed and others with dogs, and began frisking the couple and searching Eboda's vehicle. Eboda drives a Jaguar and was told he was being searched because his flashy car and skin colour 'fit the profile' of those involved in gun crime in the area. 'I was completely and utterly humiliated on my own doorstep. I run four minority newspapers, how the hell am I supposed to tell my readers that they can trust the police when the police themselves see nothing wrong with stopping and searching someone just because they are black and drive a nice car?

'I've said it before and I'll say it again: arbitrary stop and search will only serve to increase tension between the police and minority ethnic communities. I have already consulted with solicitors and there is a very strong possibility that I will be taking legal action over this.' Eboda was stopped because police had issued a Section 60 notice in the streets around his home. The order gives police the right to stop any person or vehicle and make any search they see fit regardless of whether they have grounds for suspicion. Many see the use of such notices as a reintroduction by stealth of the much-hated sus laws of the 1970s, which spurred inner city riots. Community leaders fear police will undo work done to build bridges with the black community. 'The wall of silence no longer exists, co-operation between the police and the black community is an all-time high,' says Lee Jasper, the Mayor of London's adviser on race. 'This kind of experience could easily destroy all that.' A Scotland Yard spokesman said it would not comment on individual cases but added that it had not received any formal complaint relating to the incident.
©The Observer

AUCTIONING RACISM ON eBAY
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The descriptive tease on eBay calls the collector's edition of "Ten Little Nigger Boys and Ten Little Nigger Girls," a "really sweet little old book." A print titled "Nigger in the Woodpile" is described as "adorable." And an illustrated children's classic that features the comic antics of two children named "Neddy and Nellie Nigger" is called a "nice assortment of characters." There are also approving teases for Bob's Uncle Little Nigger Boy Card Game, "Nigger" antique glass sets, moneyboxes, tobacco tins and racially offensive music scores, as well as the dozens of other similar items for sale on eBay. The fawning descriptive teases for these relics were not written decades ago, but by today's sellers.

This rogues' gallery of racially grotesque items dates mostly from pre-World War II days when racial slander, slurs and vilification of African-Americans were standard fare in America. There's nothing wrong with collectors privately selling and trading racially vile collectibles, and Nazi, Klan and Aryan Nation paraphernalia to each other, to antique houses or to museums. But their sale on eBay, which boasts that it is the world's online auction site, blatantly violates that company's own policy statement to "disallow" any material that promotes racial hatred, violence or intolerance. There is no eBay disclaimer or warning that these items are racially damaging.

Their presence on eBay, and the lack of an explanation as to why these offensive items have been banned from display in many schools and libraries, is less a damning indictment of America's odious racial past than a revealing showcase of current attitudes. A reexamination of that past reveals why the old racial stereotypes embodied in the array of racist books and collectibles on eBay stubbornly defy extinction. A few decades ago, newspapers and magazines had great fun ridiculing, lampooning and assailing blacks in articles and cartoons. Black people were branded as "lazy," "brutes," "savages," "imbeciles" and "moral degenerates."

Popular Science Monthly, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Medicine and the North American Review and other leading magazines chimed in with volumes of heady research papers, articles and scholarly opinions that claimed blacks were hopelessly inferior, crime and violence-prone defectives from which society had to be protected. A flood of racist, pseudo scholarly books such as "The Caucasian and the Negro in the United States," "The Negro Beast," "The Negro: A Menace to American Civilization" and Thomas Dixon's epic novel "The Clansman," purported to prove that blacks were inherently dangerous and mentally deformed, and that whites had to be defended from them at all costs. Films of an earlier era such as "Rastus in Zululand," "Rastus and Chicken," "Pickaninnies" and "Watermelon and the Chicken" unabashedly visually mugged the black image. Then there were the high-art classics, "Birth of a Nation," that slavishly glorified the Ku Klux Klan and "Gone With the Wind" that promoted the phony Old South notion of blacks as eternally blissful, happy-go-lucky slaves. Both films are still shown regularly on Turner Movie Classics, at film festivals and in art houses, often with no explanation or discussion as to how they incited racial violence and perpetuated racial stereotypes.

With the passage of three civil rights bills, numerous affirmative action statutes, stacks of court decisions that guarantee civil rights and civil liberties protections and the spectacular rise of a prosperous and politically connected black middle class, the assumption was that America's ugly racial past had permanently been exorcised. But even if eBay did not sell and advertise a mountain of racist books, prints and collectibles, the old racial notions of black inferiority and menace have been sneakily recycled in other ways.

In the 1970s, a whole n
©Independent Media Institute

ROMA PRISONERS LOCATED IN CLOSED BLOCKS BECAUSE OF RACISM(Finland)
The situation of Roma (Gypsy) prisoners in Finnish prisons is worse than that of other prisoners. This was the conclusion of a recent inquiry on the subject conducted by a working group from Finland's Criminal Sanctions Agency. The enquiry reveals that in some prisons Roma prisoners have had to be situated in closed blocks because of other inmates' racist behaviour. Those in the closed blocks often miss out on a lot of the prison's activities, such as teaching, work, or rehabilitation. Furthermore, the Roma prisoners in particular are often in dire need of education, the enquiry report asserts. The working group came to the conclusion that the Roma prisoners have had and still have special problems related to accommodation, employment, education, substance abuse rehabilitation, and getting assistance on their release from prison. Overcrowding of prisons, lack of resources, and steadily increasing number of prisoners just add to the problems.

At the moment there are 120-140 Roma prisoners in Finnish prisons. According to the report, there is no need to establish special block sections for Roma prisoners. "Principles of equal treatment call for a chance for all prisoners to share the same living areas", the working group states. Prejudices also complicate the Roma prisoners' chances of getting into community service programmes. However, according to the information collected by the working group, after initiating community service programmes for Roma prisoners, things have gone smoothly, and feedback has been positive. Upon release from prison, on the other hand, Roma prisoners' situation has not been significantly worse from that of other prisoners. The support of family and relatives, in particular, has often been of great help. Still, the working group suggests the hiring of two support persons, who would link with the released Roma prisoners.

Five of Finland's prisons provide activities supporting the Roma culture. In the working group's opinion, every prison should have a liaison officer ensuring active connections with the Roma community. Most importantly, however, the Roma prisoners should be encouraged to take part in the prison's normal education and rehabilitation activities, the working group concludes.
©Helsingin Sanomat

RACE IN CYBER-SPACE(Australia)
Simulated killings of other races have become a form of "entertainment" in computer games being sold via the Internet, according to research conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. The World Wide Web now provides racist groups a global audience at low cost. The Commission's research demonstrates that racist groups can use the Internet to vilify others, recruit new members and raise funds. The Commission's research, which is available now on the Commission's website, shows the Internet is used to promote:

  • racist groups

  • extremist literature

  • race hate music

  • racist games

  • notions of racial superiority and violence.


  • Racism is promoted via email, chat rooms, newsgroups and web order catalogues. Emails can distribute racist messages to thousands of people around the world. This material is accessible by anyone, including children. "I find this material deeply disturbing," said Commissioner Jonas of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. "The images and computer games are particularly disturbing in their capacity to drain people of their humanity, to render them as sub-human and expendable. This is a new problem and we need to work out better ways of dealing with it." It can be difficult to apply Australian anti-vilification laws to the Internet. "Like graffiti, it's not always easy to identify the authors of racist web pages," Commissioner Jonas said. "It's also difficult to apply Australian laws when racist groups use overseas Internet service providers" (ISPs).

    Individual members of a victim group can lodge complaints to the Commission if they are vilified. However, representative organisations or other concerned citizens cannot make a complaint on their behalf. "This places a heavy burden on the victims of vilification, particularly when one person has to complain against an organised race hate group," Commissioner Jonas said. The Commission held a Cyber-racism Symposium in October 2002 attended by senior representatives from the IT sector, government regulators, legislators, academics and racial equality groups. The summary report of the symposium - covering the difficulties of regulating cyber-racism, Australian and international approaches to the problem and suggested ways of tackling race hate such as education and blocking filters - is also available on the website today. The Commission and participants of the forum are continuing discussions about ways of limiting racially offensive material on the World Wide Web.
    ©HREOC

    TOWNSHIP DEMANDS STREETLIGHTS TO BETTER SEE REFUGEES(Norway)
    A rural area south of Oslo wants the state to install street lights near a new asylum center. Local officials worry that motorists can't see its dark-skinned residents when they're out walking after sundown. And that comes early during the winter in Norway. While the days are getting longer now, darkness settles in around 3pm in the middle of winter, resulting in extra challenges for both motorists and pedestrians. The township of Vaaler now has two asylum centers that together have capacity for around 800 refugees, equal to about 20 percent of the township's total population. In a letter to state highway authorities, local official Gorm Gullberg wrote that Vaaler's new residents "are dark both in skin color and clothing." Attempts to encourage the refugees to use reflectors on their outerwear, like most native Norwegians do, have been unsuccessful. "This applies to people with another background and another understanding of traffic than we are used to," Gullberg wrote. He went on to ask the highway authorities to implement "extraordinary traffic security measures" around a new asylum center in a former military camp. An anti-racism group isn't pleased with Gullberg's letter. "Of course we want to ensure the safety of everyone, but' this sort of letter perpetuates an 'us' and 'them' way of thinking," Trond Thorbjornsen of SOS Racisme told newspaper Aftenposten. Nor are the highway authorities taking the request seriously. In the meantime, the asylum centers are considering sewing reflectors onto the refugees' clothing.
    ©Aftenpost

    TOWN MEETING OVER REFUGEE INFLUX(Ireland)
    The Department of Justice is to meet local authority members in Longford following claims the town is a dumping ground for refugees. The Midlands Health Board will also be represented at a town council meeting to discuss a refugee influx. An estimated 700 refugees are living in the town. They include 64 asylum seekers placed in hostel or hotel-type accommodation by the department's Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) at a cost of over 750,000. However, hundreds of refugees are living in highly subsidised private-rented accommodation. Dan Rooney, town clerk in Longford, which has a population of 7,000, said the meeting was arranged in advance of District Judge John Neilan's statement about non-nationals. During a case involving two non-national women accused of shoplifting, the judge warned shopping centres in his district court area would put a ban on "coloured people if this type of behaviour doesn't stop". The judge later apologised for his remarks but Longford's Mayor, Alan Mitchell, said the judge had highlighted a local problem.

    Cllr Mitchell, a solicitor, said Co Longford had taken its fair share of non-nationals with the health board providing assistance to more than 700 people. Town clerk Mr Rooney said a combination of new residential properties under an urban tax incentive scheme and the postponement of a proposed 1,300-job healthcare project led to a high availability of private rented accommodation. "An abundance of private rented accommodation has made Longford an attractive location for refugees. "Applications for housing in Longford came from refugees all over the country, including Cork. You have to ask, ‘why did they want to come to Longford?' The influx has led to councillors expressing concern at recent monthly meetings," he said. Fianna Fáil councillor Tony Flaherty said neighbouring counties are facilitating smaller numbers of refugees while Longford was becoming a dumping ground.

    A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed that officials from the RIA will attend an exchange information meeting in Longford. However, the department asserted the many thousands of people granted residency on various grounds, including study, work, or as a spouse of an EU national, are entitled to live in any part of the State. The RIA, a spokesperson said, attempted to achieve a fair and balanced distribution of asylum seekers throughout the country and has particular regard, among other relevant factors, to the size of local communities when deciding on the number of asylum seekers to be placed in them.
    ©Irish Examiner

    FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS INFILTRATE EXTREMIST GROUPS(usa)
    Federal investigators have penetrated branches of the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations and the racist Christian Identity movement in a widening probe that has netted two suspects from opposite ends of Pennsylvania. Using an undercover informant who posed as an expert in firearms, demolition and paramilitary training, FBI agents working from the Philadelphia office have gathered extensive intelligence on the racist far-right network and interconnections among its various groups. At one point, the undercover informant gave cell phones to some members, enabling investigators to track members and monitor their conversations. Both federal investigators and members of the extremist fringe gave matching accounts of the informant's role in arrests in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas during a 24-hour period this month. In Washington County, federal agents swarmed over the rural home of David Wayne Hull, 40, the imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Hull, who has longtime associations with members of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations as well as Christian Identity groups, was charged with manufacturing a pipe bomb and trading it to the undercover witness in return for a cell phone. Hull is being held without bond pending trial.

    In Philadelphia, Joshua Caleb Sutter, 22, was arrested as he met with undercover agents in a parking lot, where he was purchasing a pistol with the serial number ground off. He also was charged with possession of an illegal silencer.Sutter is a member of the Aryan Nations spinoff group, Church of the Sons of Yaweh, and previously was Aryan Nations minister for Islamic liaison. In that role, he said he attempted to form alliances with anti-American Muslim extremists after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Federal authorities became alarmed after Hull attempted to purchase 10 hand grenades from their informant, telling him he needed them for an attack on abortion clinics. Sutter, who knew Hull and had met him during the Aryan Nations World Congress in Potter County last summer, had attracted attention from investigators because of increasingly militant language in his Internet postings and public statements. Sutter has advertised himself as a "phineas priest," a title sometimes assumed in Identity circles by members who carry out violent attacks. The informant traded a free cell phone to Hull in return for a pipe bomb, according to court records in the case. In another instance, the source provided a cell phone that was used by Pennsylvania Aryan Nations leader Charles John Juba, a Hull associate. Juba's cell phone unexpectedly shut off this week as suspicion about the informant rose among extremist groups.

    Ray Redfeairn, an official with the Idaho-based branch of Aryan Nations and leader of the Sons of Yaweh, said he had been informed that Sutter was caught in an apparent federal sting operation. "Some people tried to talk him into buying some sort of weapon. As soon as the trunk was opened, the team came down on him," Redfeairn said. Sutter's father, David, a retired minister, said his son's arrest followed a trip to Canada with associates. On Feb. 12, he said, his son left the house with a friend and his next contact was a tearful, two-minute phone call from a Philadelphia-area jail. "I think he was led astray," the elder Sutter said. "All I know is these people courted him, took him places and he got arrested." Both former Aryan Nations minister of information August Kreis and Redfeairn say the informant had attempted repeatedly to gain access to top leaders in various branches of the Aryan Nations and the Church of the Sons of Yaweh. Kreis said the informant offered to provide hand grenades. Kreis said he rejected the offer and warned the new member that his approach was raising suspicions. "His thing always was that he could get hand grenades," Kreis said. "I said, 'You're new and right off the bat people aren't go Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama.
    ©Post-Gazette

    HOLOCAUST DENIER TO FACE ASYLUM HEARING(Canada)
    Zundel called threat to national security Coderre vows to prevent claims abuse

    Federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre made it clear yesterday he won't allow Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel to manipulate the system to drag out his stay in Canada. "I won't comment on the specifics here, but let me reassure you, that if there is an abuse of the system, we have to make the system work," Coderre told reporters. Zundel is in custody in the Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold awaiting a hearing today on his claim for refugee status. The German-born publisher of anti-Semitic tracts, was deported to Canada by U.S. authorities on Wednesday under terms of a Canada-U.S. agreement. Since he entered the U.S. from Canada, that's where he was returned. While Coderre refuses to speak directly to the Zundel case, when asked about it, he said repeatedly he would not allow the system to be "trampled." He said if someone tries to abuse Canada's refugee system, he will take appropriate measures to prevent that.

    Zundel held permanent resident status in Canada for years, although he was denied citizenship and remains a German citizen. He has been convicted in absentia in Germany for disseminating hate literature. Immigration department sources said Zundel is expected to have a detention review hearing today. The hearing is closed to the media. A source told the Star's Philip Mascoll that at today's hearing, agents of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service will tell an adjudicator Zundel is a threat to national security who cannot be allowed to remain in Canada. He cannot return to the United States, because the immigration court that ordered him out, also barred him from returning for at least 20 years. His claim for refugee status in Canada is on the grounds that if returned to Germany, which has some of the world's stiffest hate laws, he will face heavy fines and possible imprisonment for his views. His U.S.-based Web site said he is seeking "political asylum" in Canada.

    Zundel had an interview Wednesday with an immigration officer who is expected to rule today on whether he is eligible to proceed with a refugee claim. Coderre didn't want to interfere with that initial process. In the House of Commons, Canadian Alliance immigration critic Diane Ablonczy said Zundel poses a "danger to the security of Canada," and should be summarily denied access to the refugee system and deported to Germany. "I understand there are some individuals who feel cheated because some people do abuse the system. I will not let this go," Coderre told the Commons. "I can say one thing. I will not let the system be trampled on."
    ©The Toronto Star

    MUSLIMS THE NEW BOGEYMEN OF RACIST AUSTRALIA, SAYS SURVEY
    Australian Muslims have surpassed Asians as one of the country's most marginalised religious and ethnic groups, research indicates. More than any other cultural or ethnic group, Muslims and people from the Middle East are thought to be unable to fit into Australia, with more than half of Australians preferring their relatives did not to marry into a Muslim family. In a paper to be presented at a conference on immigration and integration tomorrow, Kevin Dunn, a Sydney academic, says Islamophobia is growing in Australia. Dr Dunn writes that Australia has a "hard core of racists" and that some of the country's worst racism is found in working-class pockets of Sydney. While there remains "persistent intolerance" to Aboriginal and Jewish Australians, anti-Muslim sentiment is "very strong". Dr Dunn's paper is based on a survey of 5056 people in Queensland and NSW that was carried out in October and December 2001, immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Since then, the Bali bombing and the highly publicised conviction of Muslim youths for gang rapes in south western Sydney have provoked a further backlash.

    Fifty-four per cent of those surveyed, mainly women, said they would be concerned if a relative of theirs married a Muslim. More than two-thirds believed humanity could be sorted into natural categories of races, and almost half thought Australia was weakened by people of different ethnic origins "sticking to their old ways". Dr Dunn blamed Islamaphobia on media representations of Muslims and a heritage of Western antipathy to Islam. Muslims, he says in his paper, suffered "quite dramatically" from the stereotypes of Islamic misogyny and sexism. Sixteen per cent of those surveyed - men more than women - reported having experienced racism in their workplace, in education, in housing or in their contact with police. But almost a quarter experienced "everyday racism" of name calling, lack of trust and disrespectful treatment in restaurants, in the streets and in sport. Yet many Australians live in denial that racism exists or that Australians from a British background enjoy a privileged position in society. More than 80 per cent of respondents recognised there was a problem with racism in Australia, but 8.5 per cent were "in denial". Older people and men were more likely than younger people and women to deny racism existed and that they were the racial "winners" in society. About 12 per cent admitted they were prejudiced.

    Dr Dunn says racism reflects non-tertiary education and to a lesser extent those who did not speak another language other than English, and men. His findings build on research he carried out with Amy McDonald that challenged the conventional wisdom that racism is more common in rural areas. That research, based on surveys in 1994 and 1996, when Pauline Hanson's One Nation was in the ascendancy, found anti-Asian feeling to be high. Racist attitudes were not necessarily more pronounced in rural areas and indeed many rural areas were less racist than parts of Sydney. Some of the most racist regions are located within Sydney and Brisbane, especially in more working-class suburbs.

    The findings

  • Fifty-four per cent of those surveyed would be concerned if their relative married a Muslim.

  • About 7 per cent are opposed to cultural diversity.

  • Eighty-three per cent said there was a problem with racism in Australia.

  • Forty-five per cent said some cultural groups did not belong in Australia.

  • About 12 per cent admitted to being prejudiced.

  • ©The Sydney Morning Herald

    RACIST THUGS ATTACK IRAQI ASYLUM SEEKER(uk)
    A new breed of racist thugs is being bred in Norwich and Norfolk because of poor education, a leading racial equality campaigner warned today. The comments came in the wake of a shocking race hate attack by a gang of four on an Iraqi Kurd seeking asylum in Norfolk. Eighteen-year-old Kristian Gowing was sent to a young offenders' institution for five months for his part in the out of the blue attack. His family admitted they were mystified at his actions, because his own grandfather had sought refuge in England after fleeing Yugoslavia after the Second World War. Anne Matin, director of the Norfolk and Norwich Racial Equality Council, warned the prejudices of the past were being passed on to today's young people. She said: "First of all I would like to say I hope the outcome of the trial is in line with how the victim feels. I would say though that five months for racially aggravated assault isn't a sentence which reflects the gravity of racism. "It would appear as well that the perpetrator doesn't even understand the world he lives in and raises issues about the lack of public education relating on matters like this. "This sort of thing isn't unusual for Norfolk. More than 50 per cent of racist incidents in Norfolk involve people aged 17 and under, whether they be the victims or the perpetrators. None of us are born racist, so there's a whole lot of issues there."

    Latest Norfolk police figures, up to December 31, showed an annual rise in racist incidents of nearly 21 per cent  a total of 268. Norwich Crown Court heard how Iraqi asylum seeker Jiger Yasin Sadiq was enjoying a night out with his girlfriend and her young son when the thugs set upon him in the unprovoked attack in Great Yarmouth. Members of Kristian Gowing's family could not understand him making racist comments, given his family background, Judge Simon Barham was told. Trainee roofer Gowing, aged 18, of St Anne's Crescent, Gorleston, was sent to a young offenders' institution for five months after admitting racially aggravated assault, causing actual bodily harm. Judge Barham said his sentence would have been longer if Gowing had still been going out and drinking excessively with the people he was friendly with at the time. He told Gowing: "You're not any longer, it seems to me, the menace that you were."

    Prosecutor Ian James said Mr Sadiq, his English girlfriend Saskia Smith and her six-year-old son all went to a travelling fair visiting Great Yarmouth on April 4 last year. Mr Sadiq was set on "completely out of the blue" near the Tesco store after Ms Smith gave him some money to change for the rides. The first attacker, who was not connected with Gowing, took the money. Gowing and two of his friends then joined in the attack on Mr Sadiq. Gowing was seen to kick out at Mr Sadiq and then punch him in the face and head area, making him fall to the ground, where he could feel himself being kicked. Gowing was heard swearing at Mr Sadiq, calling him a '****ing refugee' and a '****ing gypsy'. After the police arrived, Gowing continued shouting obscenities, telling the victim 'I'm going to get you for this'. He then said '****ing Kosovans. Why don't you do them?' When he was interviewed the next day, he said he had been very drunk. He referred to a friend having been stabbed by 'someone foreign', adding: 'these people are all the same, and they always get away with it.' Mr Sadiq was taken to hospital and his injuries included a broken nose. He later returned to the James Paget Hospital complaining of blurred vision and was referred to an eye specialist, added Mr James.

    Katharine Moore, for Gowing, said he was extremely ashamed of what he had done, and had never considered himself a racist. His Yugoslavian great uncle had sought asylum here after the Second World War, and his mother's step-father was Belgian. "He and the family are mystified," said Miss Moore. Since that night there had been a "marke Mancroft ward and member of the Anti Nazi League, backed calls to wipe out prejudice. He said: "The national tabloids have got a lot to answer for. If racist idiots are able to read, then presumably they are getting their so-called information from them. "As far as education goes we have to give young people the right message, which is that the more diverse we are the richer we become. "People need to look at people as individuals and understand where they are from and why they have come here. If they can teach that in the classrooms that would be great."
    ©Evening News 24

    SCOTLAND SEEKS TO ATTRACT MIGRANTS
    Scotland is to seek ways of boosting immigration to bolster its lagging long-term economic growth rates, Jack McConnell, first minister, is expected to say on Tuesday. He plans to tell a conference in Edinburgh that the Scottish executive is discussing with the Home Office ways of "intervening" to increase the number of visas issued to immigrants, as part of an "aggressive drive" to boost the country's falling population. The first minister will also outline proposals to market Scotland overseas as a place to settle and work. And he will announce plans to persuade English and foreign undergraduates studying in Scotland to stay on in the country. Mr McConnell's population drive follows increasing concern that Scotland's low economic growth is partly caused by its declining population. The Scottish executive believes attracting incomers and retaining skilled graduates can help improve the country's poor record in creating new businesses. The population has been in decline since 1974 and could slip below 5m within a decade. The fall partly reflects a birth rate among the lowest in Europe, but also emigration. Scotland also has little inward immigration, particularly among non-whites. Recent studies have shown business creation among incomers, particularly Asians and other ethnic minorities, is higher than that among Scots. Scotland has already begun an anti-racism campaign to make the country "more welcoming" to immigr ants. Ministers have been embarrassed by a spate of attacks on asylum seekers in Glasgow which have shaken Scotland's self-image as a land of tolerance.
    ©The Financial Times

    FRANCE SETS APRIL ELECTION DATES FOR MUSLIM COUNCIL
    Elections to the first ever body to speak on behalf of France's five million strong Muslim community will take place in April after weekend talks broke a deadlock over the influence of fundamentalists. Agreement on the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) was reached in December, but the project ran into trouble because of fears among liberals that it would be dominated by the Saudi-funded Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF) which has close links with the Muslim Brotherhood. However intense negotiations at the interior ministry in Paris led to a breakthrough Sunday on the share-out of responsibilities in the future council, which is seen by the centre-right government as a vital instrument for the integration of the country's second largest religious group. Elections for the council -- as well as for subsidiary regional bodies -- will take place on April 6 and 13, but with the franchise limited to only a few thousand delegates from mosques and other Islamic organisations. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the agreement Monday, saying the CFCM would help bring Islam into the open and ease intercommunal anxieties at a time of heightened international tension. "It is the Islam of the cellars and the garages that is dangerous. What we are trying to create is not an Islam in France but an Islam of France. And for that it must be able to express itself, debate and organise its various parts in a manner that is transparent and public," Sarkozy said.

    Principal positions in the council will be shared between the UOIF and the two other major Islamic organisations in France: the National Federation of French Muslims -- which is backed by Morocco -- and the Paris mosque, whose rector Algerian-born Dalil Boubakeur will be its president. Seen as a progressive and for many years a favoured interlocutor of French governments, Boubakeur has nonetheless been criticised by liberals for failing to fight the spread of traditionalist Islam which many say is incompatible with France's secular identity. The only woman due to have a seat in the council -- Betoule Fekkar-Lambiotte -- resigned earlier his month, complaining that groups such as the UOIF were being accorded too much influence and to "draw attention to the growing power of fundamentalism. However another liberal -- Lyon mosque rector Kamel Kabtane -- said, "I prefer to have them inside rather than out," and UOIF president Lahj Thami Breze said his organisation "fully respects the principles of secularism and the laws of the republic." Founded in Egypt in the 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood - also known as al-Ikhwan -- now claims 70 affiliate organisations around the world and calls for Islamic dominion to be achieved by personal purification combined with political action. Kabtane told AFP that the current crisis over Iraq sharpened the need for an official body to represent French Muslims. "The authorities need to have interlocutors to whom they can explain the situation in Iraq. We shall have a role to play," he said. France is a rigidly secular state and regulates its relations with the other main religions through similar bodies. The Jewish Consistory for example was set up under Napoleon in 1806. But as the product of successive recent waves of immigration, France's Muslim community has developed in haphazard fashion and part of the government's aim is to wean it from the foreign countries and institutions who today provide most of its funding.
    ©The Tocqueville Connection

    BELGIAN FAR-RIGHT SURVIVES LEGAL FIGHT
    Legal attempts to remove funding from Belgium's far-right Vlaams Blok have failed, after a court refused to rule on the matter. The case was brought by two human rights groups, which accused three organisations linked to the party of publishing racist campaign material. The groups argued that the use of racist material should disqualify the party from receiving public funding - the only legal source of funds under Belgian law. But the Brussels Appeals Court ruled on Wednesday that it had no jurisdiction because the case was politically motivated, backing a decision taken by a lower court. The Vlaams Blok, which wants independence for Flanders, was accused by the groups of singling out immigrants and people of North African origin in its campaign material. The party took 15% of the vote in Flanders in a general election four years ago, winning it 15 seats in parliament. "The ruling is a political victory for the Vlaams Blok, but more importantly a victory for freedom of speech in this country," said Vlaams Blok leader Frank Vanhecke. The two human rights groups, Belgium's official anti-racism body and the Human Rights League, might appeal to the Supreme Court. They claimed that the three organisations were helping a party "engaged in and promoting discrimination and segregation". Loss of funding would have dealt the Vlaams Blok a crippling blow, only three months ahead of Belgian general elections. The Vlaams Blok has its power base in Antwerp, where it has the support of around a third of the population of half a million.
    ©BBC News

    AUSTRIA 'SLOW TO CORRECT NAZI PAST'
    A wide-ranging report commissioned by the Austrian Government on stolen property during the Nazi era says Austria's record on restitution has been half-hearted and slow. The 14,000-page report compiled over the past four years is an attempt to provide a comprehensive picture of looted assets and property under the Nazis. The report by the historical commission says it is impossible to give an exact figure as to the amount of assets confiscated during the Third Reich in Austria. But it chronicles the thousands of Jewish banks, businesses, real estate, personal property and other assets which were seized.

    Public debate needed
    The report says the majority of those affected were Jews, but it also deals with ethnic minorities, the Roma, euthanasia victims, homosexuals, and people forced into slave labour. The report says it is not correct to say that Austria did nothing to compensate people for their losses or suffering. But it concludes Austria did too little to right the wrongs after World War II. "Steps towards restitution and compensation were often half-hearted and sometimes utterly reluctant, undertaken all too often only because of outside pressure, especially from the Allies," the report says. Austria, it says, has too often hidden behind the excuse that it was the first victim of Nazi aggression. The head of the Jewish community in Austria, Ariel Muzikant, welcomed the publication of the report. It showed that hundreds of thousands of Austrians - not just bad Germans - were involved, he told the BBC. And he said it had to be the basis for a wide-ranging public debate on a chapter of Austrian history which had been sidelined for too many years. This is the view of the report's authors. They stress that their work does not draw a line under Austria's preoccupation with its Nazi past. They hope that further and deeper research will follow.
    ©BBC News

    HAIDER POISED FOR COMEBACK(Austria)
    After three months in Austria's political wilderness, Jörg Haider's far-right, anti-immigration party is poised for a comeback after being invited to talks on playing a part in the next coalition. The winner of November's Austrian elections, Wolfgang Schüssel, the centre-right Chancellor, said yesterday that he wanted to renew his pact with Mr Haider's Freedom Party, even though their previous two-party coalition collapsed in acrimony. Mr Schüssel won a convincing election victory but has been searching for a coalition partner for three months. Now he says he is ready to form a government with the Freedom Party, whose vote slumped in November, and agreement could be reached as soon as next week. Mr Haider provoked alarm in Europe by praising Nazi employment policies and defending veterans of the Waffen SS. His party's inclusion in Mr Schüssel's first coalition caused international outrage, and the other 14 EU member states severed political contacts with the Austrian government for seven months. Mr Schüssel's People's Party leadership agreed late on Thursday to woo Mr Haider's party, which has responded enthusiastically.
    © Independent Digital

    AUTHOR ACCUSED OF ANTI-SEMITISM(Czech Republic)
    Critics compare book to Mein Kampf, say it could encourage racists

    Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled that the publication of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf could not be banned. Now, a new book that some have decried as anti-Semitic has sparked a new legal battle. Within two weeks of the mid-February release of Petr Bakalar's Taboos in Social Sciences, a lawsuit was filed to halt the book's publication. Critics have denounced the work as racist propaganda. "It seems to be more dangerous than the publication of Hitler's Mein Kampf," said Tomas Jelinek, chairman of the Prague Jewish Community. He said the book could become a manual for Czech racists and anti-Semites. The 300-page book, which is presented as scholarly research with about 400 footnotes, describes theories purporting that levels of human intelligence are based on race and ethnicity. The book "tries to bring new arguments about the influence of the Jews in the world and about the role of Jews in undermining the role of Christian societies," Jelinek said. "As a citizen of the Czech Republic, I found many arguments in the book outrageous, and I don't understand the scientific methodology of the book," he added. "What was it that he wanted to prove? What was it that he wanted to say?"

    Brisk sales
    Olomouc-based publishing house Votobia printed 4,500 copies. It does not plan to translate the book for sale in other countries. Within one week, 4,000 copies were sold. "The book is dangerous because it appears as scientific work. And its form corresponds to it," said Prague sociologist Tomas Kamin, who filed a lawsuit against Bakalar. The lawsuit is based on paragraph 260 of the penal code. The paragraph states: "Someone who supports or promotes a movement that explicitly aids the suppression of the rights of man or promotes ethnic, religious, nationalist or class hatred against some person will be punished by one to five years in prison." "The author has only chosen quotations from specific sources so that they correspond to his objective. And his goal, in my view, is to present racist and anti-Semitic views," Kamin said. Bakalar, 33, rejects the racist label. "I state in the book that Mongoloids [peoples of East Asia and the indigenous peoples of the Americas] have the highest IQ, so I'm not a white supremacist," he said. In his book, Bakalar concludes that Eastern European Jews have higher IQs than other Eastern Europeans. He reasons that concentration camps created a "survival-of-the-fittest" atmosphere -- those who were more intelligent either escaped or were able to survive in the camps, he said. "You can't even say [Jews] have high IQs -- that is anti-Semitic," he said. "You can write about Jewish suffering, but you can't write about, or analyze, the reason why so many people were against them. The main reason was economic competition." Bakalar also says that the number of Jews working in the American entertainment industry, media and academia support his theory. He said Eastern European Jews have an average IQ of 115. Other Eastern Europeans test at 100. Bakalar said his work has been criticized because he focused much of his work on Jews. If he had written The Psychology of Gypsies, he said, "I probably would not have such controversy."

    Reaction anticipated
    Petr Jungling, owner of Votobia, said he anticipated the negative responses. "I read it and, of course, I don't agree that it is racist," he said. Since its publication, the book has received positive feedback, Jungling said. "I think that the situation on the Czech book market is very conformist," he said. Jungling and Bakalar said they wanted to break taboos that would prompt discussions that are not socially acceptable. "I couldn't find any other topics that would be hotter than this," Bakalar said during an interview in his Mala Strana flat, a home that he jokes will be a museum one day. "O ©The Prague Post

    ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FLOOD BELARUS
    Ever-growing numbers of would-be migrants may have serious implications for the future expansion of the European Union.
    By Vyacheslav Budkevich in Minsk

    An army of illegal immigrants is flooding west across Belarus - and the authorities appear to lack the resources and political will needed to stop them. The internal affairs ministry estimates that as many as 200,000 economic migrants pass through the former Soviet republic every year - only a fraction are picked up and detained by the police. Officers raided an apartment in Minsk last week and arrested 12 Afghan nationals only a few days after 60 Chinese immigrants were picked up in the capital. And in the western border town of Brest, two Cuban men were seized with fake Spanish passports they apparently bought in Russia. The number of desperate people seeking a new life in the West is growing all the time, and Belarus has become a main transit point on their route to Scandinavia and EU countries. The problem is expected to worsen in 2004, when the accession of several neighbouring countries to the EU means that the western Belarus will directly border the union. "[As a result] the EU's frontier system will encounter new problems, such as illegal immigration, and crime connected with this," Jan Marius Viersma, head of a Brussels delegation for issues on cooperation with Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, said in Minsk last November. Viersma stressed that the problem could be solved "only with the help of our new neighbours, such as Belarus", and fresh approaches were needed. This concern deepened after President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to open Belarus' western borders and flood the EU with economic migrants after he was refused a visa to attend November 2002's NATO summit in Prague.

    The West wants Belarus to continue spending its resources protecting its borders without offering any compensation, said Lukashenko during an autumn 2002 meeting of the state committee of frontier forces, adding that from this year the authorities should only detain and deport illegal immigrants if the cost of doing so was reimbursed by Western countries or an international body. The bulk of western aid for border protection goes to Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, with Belarus forced to bear the brunt of illegal immigration on its own, analysts say. Colonel-General Alexander Pavlovsky, commander of the Belarus frontier forces, has complained his guards on the Polish border use equipment that doesn't work properly because there's no money to replace it. However, the international community has not turned its back on Belarus completely. The European Commission's TACIS programme - designed to aid transitional countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe - provided more than 3.4 million euro for the demarcation of the Baltic States frontier. European cash was also used to buy and equip three mobile frontier posts - which are already being used on the Ukrainian border - and to modernise checkpoints. Minsk also participates in international programmes for updating border-crossing procedures, combating illegal trafficking of women, and improving management of migrant flows.

    Despite the political and financial problems preventing law enforcers from doing their job properly, police arrested over 2,000 illegal immigrants, with a similar number being detained by frontier guards, in 2002, forcing organised crime gangs to change their tactics. In the mid Nineties, it was common for groups of as many as 40 illegal migrants to cross a border together. Today, they do so in much smaller groups to avoid detection. Catching illegal immigrants in the act is only part of the solution. The second and no less difficult task is to send them back home. Here, Belarus faces numerous problems, the most serious of which is, again, lack of money. The internal affairs ministry said that the detection, arrest and deportation of each illegal immigrant cos ©Institute for War & Peace Reporting

    NEW RULES FOR THIRD-COUNTRY FAMILY REUNIFICATION(eu)
    The EU reached a political agreement on Thursday laying down the standards with which spouses and children can reunite with a family member coming from a third country but residing lawfully in an EU State. This agreement, which is less restrictive than the Commission's original proposal, comes after three years of discussion, and is the first legal instrument adopted by the Community in the area of legal immigration. Automatic reunification will occur with children of 12 years and under. But between the age of 12 and 18, reunification will be limited, with the right of an EU state to deny applications for family reunification if a child is over the age of 15. This measure was taken against children that, at reaching the age of 16, decide to go to an EU state not for family reunification reasons, but to be able to work in an EU state.

    Right to reunification lost after two years
    Spouses would have to be over the age of 21 to reunify with their partners residing legally in the EU. "This measure was taken so as to prevent involuntary marriages," the Council Directive reads. It also says:
    "Member States may require the sponsor (third country national) to have stayed lawfully in their territory for a period not exceeding two years, before having his family members joining."

    24 months to implement this directive
    Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino said the directive has been "diluted" but was pleased that an agreement was finally reached. "I was ambitious," the Commissioner said, "and we have to try to be more ambitious." He said the agreement "is acceptable" as it "creates a common level playing field." The Greek Minister for Public Order Michalis Chrisochoidis described Thursday's agreement during the Justice and Home Affairs Council as "a very important step forward". "The EU is taking important steps in the immigration policy with all the difficult measures in this context" he said. EU States have now a period of 24 months to implement this directive.

    Denmark opting out
    Denmark will not be forced to implement directive due to the country's general opting out of the common EU justice legislation. The country will still require 8-10 years legal residence before family reunification is granted and spouses must be minimum 24 years old. Peter Skaarup from the Danish Peoples Party told Jyllands-Posten this was a clear demonstration of the need for Denmark to hold on to it's opt out. Minister for Integration Bertel Haarder rejected claims that it would now be more difficult to win a referendum and get Denmark in line with the rest of the EU.
    ©EUobserver

    UN HCHR URGES ACTION ON DETAINEES
    The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned the "shroud of secrecy" surrounding the detention of al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects.

    Sergio Vieira de Mello said detainees had rights to speedy trial, lawyers and to seeing their families. He also said he was concerned by the rise in racism and religious intolerance exacerbated by the fight against terror following the attacks of 11 September. Speaking at the end of a three-day visit to Pakistan, Mr de Mello acknowledged the right of governments to arrest and detain suspects in the fight against terrorism. But he told journalists that the process should be transparent.

    'Heard nothing'
    "This fight against terror is compatible, must be compatible with the respect of fundamental civil liberties, particularly in democratic countries," said Mr de Mello. He said he had personally met the families of two detained suspects in eastern Pakistan who had heard nothing of them following their arrest months ago. Of the 650 al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects apprehended since the military campaign in Afghanistan, the bulk have been arrested and transferred to United States custody by Pakistan. They include the key al-Qaeda suspect Ramzi Binalshibh. Mr de Mello also said he was worried at the rise in religious and racial intolerance since 11 September, particularly the increase in vilifying Islam.

    'Much to achieve'
    Much of his visit, however, was spent addressing problems with human rights in Pakistan. The High Commissioner said that while it had made some progress, there was still much to achieve, particularly over the practice of so-called honour killings of women. In 2002 more than 450 women were killed in Pakistan by male relatives to protect the family honour from behaviour deemed immoral. Mr de Mello also called for the reform of Pakistan's blasphemy law. It allows anyone thought to have slighted or acted disrespectfully towards Islam or the Koran to be punished by death.
    ©BBC News

    FRENCH SCHOOLS AIM TO STOP ANTI - SEMITISM
    Anti-Semitism has become a ``true danger'' in French schools, the education minister said Thursday, announcing new measures to stop acts of hostility toward Jewish students. Education Minister Luc Ferry said the government was setting up committees to monitor and respond to racist activity among students. Teachers and principals will no longer be allowed to turn their heads when it comes to harassment of Jewish students, Ferry said. ``There is a trivialization of anti-Semitism that worries us, a new wave of anti-Semitism that is being tolerated by certain adults,'' Ferry said at a news conference. Two French education unions were angered by Ferry's remarks and said teachers weren't tolerating racism. The FSU said in a statement that making teachers scapegoats wouldn't ease tensions in the classroom, while the SNES asked, ``What facts did he base this judgment on?'' Education leaders will meet later this month to toughen sanctions against students engaging in such behavior, Ferry said. Some 455 racist and anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in the first trimester of the year in French public schools. Most were non-violent, involving verbal insults and offensive graffiti, school officials say. Ferry said the anti-Semitic sentiment in schools can be traced to France's large Muslim and Arab population. Last September, a group of teachers published a book entitled ``The Lost Territories of the Republic,'' in which they claim the teaching of the Holocaust has become impossible in some classrooms because of hostility toward the subject by students of Arab origin. The subject of anti-Semitism touches a deep nerve in France, where Jews have enjoyed equal rights since the 18th century. But they have also been subjected to severe persecution, particularly during the Holocaust, when 75,000 Jews were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps.
    ©Associated Press


    FRANCE'S HIGH APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS PAPON RELEASE
    France's highest appeals court on Thursday upheld a decision to free 92-year-old convicted Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon from jail early on medical grounds. Papon, a former official in France's Vichy government, was convicted in 1998 of complicity in crimes against humanity for helping organize the deportation of more than 1,500 Jews from the southwestern city of Bordeaux. But he walked free in September after serving just three years of a 10-year sentence due to his poor health, sparking outrage in both France and Israel. Medical reports stated that he was suffering from chronic heart, circulatory and kidney problems, but opponents of his release were shocked and angry to see him walking unaided from jail. At the request of the justice ministry, the Paris prosecutor's office appealed against Papon's release, charging that it threatened public order. But on Thursday, the Cour de Cassation followed the advice of state attorney Louis di Guardia, who argued that the ministry's request stemmed more from public outrage than from doubt about the legality of Papon's release. Di Guardia also noted that a law passed in 2002, which allows prisoners nearing the end of their lives to be freed, makes no mention of popular reaction as a basis for rejecting an inmate's release request. "Public emotion is not a criterion," he said during a hearing on Wednesday. But Papon could still see his freedom revoked, as a judge has ordered him to undergo a fresh battery of medical tests to verify that he is as ill as his lawyers claim. If found to be in improving health, he could be sent back to prison.
    ©The Tocqueville Connection

    DENMARK TO CURB EASTERN IMMIGRATION
    Citizens from the 10 new EU countries are not going to have the same rights to settle in Denmark as those from the present member countries. "The government is ready to carry through certain limitations for the new EU citizens. ... It will not be a question on whether to do it or not, only on how to do it," says Claus Hjort Frederiksen, Danish minister for employment, according to Jyllands-Posten, adding:
    "It is a question of finding a balance, so that we can tighten up the rules without affecting the Danes themselves. It is a thing which we must solve in co-operation with the other parties in Folketinget (the Danish parliament)."

    The choice will be, according to Mr Hjort Frederiksen, between two models: either by monitoring certain sectors of the labour market or limiting the immediate access to welfare benefits. According to present rules, an EU citizen is entitled to temporary cash benefits or sickness benefits after only two week of employment in Denmark. This sickness benefit may also be used abroad for a number of months. The right to receive a state pension takes longer. But, according to senior researcher Jon Kvist, there are no signs that any major influx of East European labour will occur. "They will have to have job before coming here, and that means that only groups that are in demand will be likely to come," he says, according to Jyllands-Posten. The government proposal comes at a time when it is predicted that 10,000 Danes will lose their jobs as a result of a war against Iraq.
    ©EUobserver

    MORE DIVERSE, CARING AND SINGLE - THE NEW FACE OF BRITAIN
    Whites in minority in two boroughs, census reveals

    The first places in Britain where white people are no longer in the majority were officially identified yesterday when the government disclosed detailed results from the 2001 census. The office for national statistics said black and Asian people comprised 60.6% of the population in the London borough of Newham, and 54.7% in the London borough of Brent. Sixteen other London boroughs had black and Asian minorities that accounted for a quarter or more of the population. Among the facts and figures that will reshape perceptions of Britain's multi-racial society, it emerged that Leicester was the city-wide authority with the largest proportion of non-whites: its mainly Indian minority group comprised more than a third of the population. In Slough the black and Asian minority was 36.3%, in Birmingham 29.6% and in Luton 28.1%. John Pullinger, director of economic and social statistics, said the minority ethnic population in England rose from 6% in 1991 to 9% in 2001. But part of this increase may have been due to a new classification that allowed people to record themselves as mixed race. He said that some of these 823,000 people might have described themselves as white in 1991.

    The commission for racial equality welcomed the figures as an important contribution to its campaign to substitute myths with facts. Beverley Bernard, the commission's acting chairwoman, said many commentators over-estimated the ethnic minority population. A recent Mori poll found people thought it was 22.5% of the total, when the census showed across the UK as a whole it was only 7.6% - about 4.5 million people. The first big wave of information from the £200m census showed large areas of the country with almost all-white populations, headed by Berwick-upon-Tweed and Alnwick in Northumberland where the black and Asian minority was 0.4%. In Sedgefield, Co Durham - the constituency of Tony Blair - it was 0.7%. In England and Wales, 2% of the population describe themselves as Indian, with Leicester at the top (25.7%). Pakistanis make up 1.4%, with Bradford having the largest population in this category (14.5%). Bangladeshis form 0.5% of the population, with Tower Hamlets in London having the most (33.4%).

    Skewed
    Other groups include 1.1% of people who describe themselves as black Caribbean and 0.9% black African. The district with the most black Caribbeans was Lewisham in south London with 12.3%. The proportion of English-born people in England has fallen 2% to 87%, and the proportion of Welsh-born in Wales also fell 2% to 75%. Scotland was not included in the census. Britain is changing in other ways, too. For the first time the 2001 census asked an optional question about religion. Answers may have been skewed by just over 4 million people refusing to answer, but the result showed 37.3 million in England and Wales describing themselves as Christian (71.7%), 1.5 million Muslims (3%), 552,000 Hindus (1.1%), 329,000 Sikhs (0.6%), 260,000 Jewish (0.5%), and 144,000 Buddhists (0.3%). There were 7.7 million (14.8%) who said they had no religion or adhered to one not recognised by the statisticians. This compared with 44% declaring no religion in the 2000 British social attitudes survey.

    Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "Up to now, Muslims have been statistically invisible, and thus easily marginalised. The census output is a strong signal to central and local government, social services and employers that the needs of all sections of Britain's multicultural society must be fairly and equitably addressed." The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Rev Keith Sutton, said the figures on religion were a "wake-up call" for the Church. "These figures prove as a lie claims by the National Secular Society and others that England is no longer a Christian country devastating reminder of the struggle experienced by carers on low incomes and little support, saving the UK economy billions of pounds a year. The census found almost 9.5 million people (18.2%) declaring a long-term illness, health problem or disability that limited daily activities or the work they could do. Of these 4.3 million were of working age. Easington in Co Durham had the highest proportion of people providing care more than 50 hours a week (31% of carers) and was also the area where people were most likely to have been born in England (97.5%). In another sign of how Britain is changing, the census was the first to show less than half the households were occupied by a married couple. Mr Pullinger said the proportion of married couples had fallen from 64% in 1981 to 45%. Nearly a third of adults remain single and one-person households make up 30% of the total. Lone parents account for 10% of households and nine out of 10 lone parents are women. Mr Cook said there were now more people over 65 than children under 16. In 30 years time there would be 4.5 people over 65 for every three children.
    Top 10 facts from the 2001 census
    ©The Guardian

    LBC RAPPED OVER ASYLUM PHONE-IN(uk)
    Watchdogs have condemned the new owner of LBC after a late night presenter it hired as a stand-in made remarks listeners branded "racist" and "bigoted". The radio authority upheld complaints about Adrian Allen's phone-in show, which featured a heated discussion about asylum seekers. Allen was standing in for Mark Mendoza on the Through the Night show in December after the station had been acquired by Chrysalis but before its January 6 relaunch. A listener thought Allen used the term "bloody foreigners" when talking to a caller, a phrase he thought was "racially divisive and bigoted". However, after listening to tapes of the show, the watchdog found it was an irate caller, not Allen, who used the phrase while criticising government policy. Nonetheless, the authority found the presenter's comments "ill-judged" and "made in isolation with no further opportunity for listeners to challenge what they had heard". Allen sympathised with the caller's view and identified her concerns as being directed at asylum seekers wanting to claim state benefits.

    Although the presenter initially made a distinction between economic migrants and genuine asylum seekers, what he went on to say damaged this balance, said the authority. "It was therefore disappointing to hear him later in the call make unnecessary derogatory comments that negated the legitimate concerns he expressed earlier about immigration and asylum seekers," the radio authority said in its adjudication, which will be published in April. The watchdog said the issue of asylum seekers was a valid subject for a phone-in and "criticism of the asylum procedure did not automatically equate to a racist stance". It continued: "However, presenters need to deal with the issue in a responsible manner and avoid using language that was overtly inflammatory." The adjudication is the first ruling against LBC since Chrysalis acquired the station in September.

    Allen has previously had complaints against him upheld after being accused of racism, homophobia and sexism. He has been reprimanded three times for making offensive jokes on air, although complaints against him on three other occasions were not upheld. In June 2000, while working for Century 106 in the east midlands, Allen claimed Romania was unable to field a football team because Romanians were "all over here claiming benefit". The radio watchdog upheld a complaint from a Century Radio North East listener that Allen had given out inaccurate information about the benefits given to asylum seekers, prompting a caller to say they should be kicked out of the country. In January 2001 a listener to Real Radio in South Wales complained about allegedly sexist, homophobic and racist remarks. The complaint about racism - again about asylum seekers - was upheld.
    ©The Guardian

    ANTI-ISLAMIC REFERENCES GROWING IN MEDIA: STUDY(Canada)
    Canadian newspapers have taken an increasingly anti-Islamic tone, according to a study released yesterday. The Canadian Islamic Congress' fifth annual media monitoring report found the number of anti-Islamic references such as "Islamic-inspired terrorist attacks" and "Muslim militant" rose substantially in 2002 in major Canadian newspapers. "It's a culture that must be changed," CIC national president Mohamed Elmasry said yesterday. The group represents the 650,000 Muslims in Canada, half of them in Greater Toronto. For the third year, the National Post was branded the most anti-Islamic newspaper, scoring the maximum of 100 points under a marking system that also factored in placement of stories. All the selected daily newspapers scored higher overall in what the conference called anti-Islamic content compared to 2001, including the Star. Other newspapers studied were the Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen, the Montreal Gazette, La Presse and the Winnipeg Free Press. The Star ranked fifth behind the Globe and the Free Press, but did better than the Citizen, the Gazette and La Presse. "When you see Muslims portrayed over and over as the enemies, as a threat to our moral and social order, it changes the way you interpret, see and interact with the world," said York University professor Carol Tator. Wahida Valiante, the organization's vice-president and a social worker by profession, said Muslim children she counsels in schools share a collective sense of insecurity in their faith because Muslims are often labelled as terrorists. "Many of these kids were born in Canada. They grew up in Canada and see themselves as nothing but Canadians."
    ©The Toronto Star

    RESPONSE BY THE NATIONAL POST: 'ANTI-ISLAM'? NOT QUITE(Canada)
    It's becoming a tradition. Every year, the Canadian Islamic Congress publishes a report arguing that Canada's media is filled with anti-Muslim bias. And every year, this newspaper debunks it.

    As with the 2002 installment, this year's Anti-Islam in the Media survey, released Thursday, singled out the National Post for its "persistent use of anti-Islam terminology." But what does "anti-Islam terminology" mean? According to the CIC, a Waterloo, Ont.-based group run by a university professor named Mohamed Elmasry, a media outlet need not actually denigrate Muslims to qualify as "anti-Islam." Rather, the CIC's "newspaper grading criteria" assign bias points for each use of such terms as "Muslim terrorists," "Muslim militants" and "Muslim extremists." Mr. Elmasry's presumption is that the religion of Middle Eastern terrorists is incidental to their actions -- and so citing their Muslim identity is a gratuitous gesture that reflects bias and promotes hatred. But, of course, this presumption is absurd. Al-Qaeda, like dozens of like-minded organizations in South Asia and the Middle East, is engaged, by its own proud admission, in a Muslim jihad. As we argued in an editorial on last year's CIC report, "Islam is their raison d'etre, their inspiration, their call to battle, their means of recruitment and, in the second before they explode themselves, their great comfort."

    To appreciate the specious nature of the CIC's campaign, consider just one of the many bogus examples of "bias" cited in its report -- an Aug. 1, 2002, column in which Mark Steyn wrote that Saudi Arabia is "the principal underwriter and fomenter of Islamic terrorism." The last two words count for 80 CIC "bias points." But let's review the facts: Saudi Arabia is a self-proclaimed Muslim theocracy whose state constitution is the Koran. Its government and leading charitable agencies raise money for Palestinian terrorists through Zakat, a form of giving mandated under Muslim religious law. Millions of dollars are then sent to Hamas, a group whose name is an Arabic acronym for "Islamic Resistance Movement," whose goal is the creation of a Muslim state on Israel's ashes, and which recruits bombers by telling them Allah will provide them 72 virgins in a Muslim heaven. Hey, Mr. Elmasry -- notice a theme? As a sidebar, it is instructive to consider what sort of journalism Mr. Elmasry holds up for commendation. His model publication, apparently, is Crescent International, a Markham, Ont.-based Islamic newsletter that praises Iran's fundamentalist regime, reprints the communiqués of Hamas, and labels Canada a "fully paid-up member of the Anglo-Saxon mafia, which is responsible for most of the recorded genocides in the world." Last year, Mr. Elmasry presented Crescent International's founder the CIC's award for media excellence.

    The CIC's contention that "there appears to be no balance of coverage regarding news or views related to Islam and Muslims" is equally baseless. Since 9/11, every major Canadian media outlet has bent over backwards to provide human-interest coverage of the West Bank, Iraq and other Arab lands. Writers inevitably couch their reports on the latest call to jihad with disclaimers indicating that the "vast majority" of Muslims do not support terrorism. (Such disclaimers are belied by Muslim opinion polls. But we politely ignore them.) Sympathetic treatment of Canada's own Muslim communities is ubiquitous. Indeed, one of the most hackneyed post-9/11 stories in Canadian journalism is the profile of the hijab-clad Muslim woman -- with a great emphasis on the allegedly intolerable psychic pain resulting from the occasional "suspicious looks" she receives in public places. In his report, Mr. Elmasry writes that anti-Muslim bias has created a "national crisis" that "manifests itself in loss of identity and self-esteem, feelings of inferiority, and even su ©National Post

    MEPs VOTE TO EXTEND MOVEMENT IN THE EU
    MEPs voted in favour to include same sex spouses, registered partners and unmarried partners, irrespective of sex, in the definition of a family member, giving them rights to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. This was to the disappointment of the rapporteur himself. "This is no longer my report," Italian Christian democrat MEP Giacomo Santini said after the result of the vote. 269 MEPs voted in favour, 225 voted against and 46 abstained. Giacomo Santini himself voted against the report and urged the other EPP members to do the same. His reaction followed the adoption of three amendments, which extended the definition of a family. "Our group has a clear cut position on this issue. I am not happy with the content. Something not important to this directive has been predominant in this issue," Mr Santini said, who hopes the tone of this report will change after the second reading.

    The report makes substantial steps in enhancing the rights of EU citizens to circulate freely amongst the EU states but were seen by others as "slackening controls within the EU." The directive is on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. It include rules which extend the right of residence from three to six months for any resident within the EU - before they are required to inform the authorities. They also allow the right of permanent residence at the end of a four-year period for any person and their family. UK Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope said the EU's plans to relax border controls are simply naive. "The US government put America on the second-highest level of security alert because of an increased risk of terror attacks, meanwhile, the EU is considering slackening rules on the movement of people," he said. The European Parliament postponed the date from which all Member States must apply the directive by one year until 1 July 2004.
    ©EUobserver

    BOSNIA: ROMA PLIGHT IGNORED
    The social exclusion of Roma is virtually a taboo subject in Bosnia
    By Srdjan Papic in Sarajevo

    Rain or shine, sun or snow, eight-year-old Edin and his 11-year-old brother Bukurib ply their trade on the intersections of the main roads in the centre of Sarajevo. With no proper education, the brothers earn money washing windshields of cars that stop at the traffic lights. When business is bad they beg. Their parents have no permanent job. Their mother is at home and their father only occasionally earns a little cash, reselling old goods. "Some give half a (konvertible) mark, others give one or two," said Bukurib. "But sometimes people chase us away, saying we make their cars dirty!" Bukurib has worked the streets for three years now. Thousands of Roma make a living this way throughout the Balkans. Some people pay them a little money, but no one pays them any attention.

    The size of the minority in Bosnia-Hercegovia is hard to estimate. In the 1991 census, 8,864 persons officially declared themselves as Roma. But this is a fraction of the real figure, as many declared themselves Muslims, Serbs or Croats to avoid discrimination. More realistic estimates put the number at anything from 30,000 to 80,000. The largest concentration is believed to be in the Tuzla canton, which is home to about 15,000. Although they are Bosnia's largest ethnic minority, the country's post-Dayton constitution grants them no specific recognition, including them in a broad category of "other nationalities". Bosnia's Roma suffer from numerous social problems, including higher than average unemployment, poor housing and exclusion from the school system. Few have any health insurance.

    A two-day round table in Sarajevo in January discussed their problems in the context of a wider debate on refugees and displaced persons in south-east Europe. The forum drew representatives from all the countries in the region, Roma associations and international organisations. Highlighting the dismal state of the minority, the head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, mission in Bosnia, Robert Beecroft, described their situation as "one of the worst in the Balkans". Beecroft said widespread prejudice and intolerance had confined the Roma population to what he termed "a hellish isolation from society, as well as unemployment, poor education and poverty". Alexandra Raykova a Roma activist from Bulgaria visiting the Tuzla area under the auspices of the Council of Europe, OSCE and ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights), reported that 60 per cent of Bosnian Roma were illiterate, while 80 per cent had no professional qualifications and 90 per cent had no health insurance.

    Most of the community's children did not attend school for one reason: the parents of the other children in the schools refused to allow them to sit in classes with Roma pupils. The Sarajevo canton has about 7,000 to 8,000 known Roma, though many others are displaced. Five pre-war Roma settlements have been relocated to collective centres and abandoned Serb homes. In the Sarajevo canton, only one Roma settlement has been well taken care of. The authorities have built 15 houses for 30 families in the Gorica suburb. But elsewhere in the region, the community lives in miserable conditions. In Sarajevo's Vrace suburb, seven Roma families who fled the Bosnian Serb entity, the Republika Srpska, are now accommodated in abandoned Serb homes. Sabahudin Arapovic, from Doboj, lives in one room of a small ex-Serb home in Vrace, which he shares with his wife and two children. Another room in the house is home to his brother and his family. Sabahudin has suffered from tuberculosis for nine years and his older son already has the same disease. "He needs money for an operation," Sabahudin mutters, coughing heavily. "Now I do not have a penny in my pocket, I am sick and I can not earn anything." The collective cent rights and refugees, Slobodan Nagradic, said one of the most important reasons why Roma problems remained unsolved was that neither of the two entities in Bosnia kept birth registers, as a result of which a large number of Roma had no citizenship. "This causes problems with employment, social and health protection, education, the right of refugees to return home and to have their property returned," he said. The social exclusion of the Roma is linked to widespread prejudice against them as a race. Ordinary people call them "gypsies" and associate them with begging, pickpocketing and a generally dirty, nomadic lifestyle. Few give much credit to the positive aspects of Roma culture, such as their musical and dance traditions.

    A law on national minorities in Bosnia has been in preparation since 2001. This is supposed to regulate the rights of national minorities and ensure the preservation of their ethnic, language and religious identity. It ought also to pave the way for new school curriculums adapted to the needs of specific national communities. However, the Bosnian parliament has always baulked in the past before adopting any such legislation, so its adoption is by no means guaranteed. Bosnia's Roma seem destined to remain on the margins of society for a long time.
    ©Institute for War & Peace Reporting

    BOSNIA: ETHNIC VIOLENCE ON THE RISE
    Victory of nationalist parties in recent elections may have led to an increase in extremist activity.
    By Senad Slatina in Sarajevo


    The arrest of a Muslim man accused of murdering three Bosnian Croats highlights the rise of ethnically motivated violence since last October's elections. Muamer Topalovic, a 26-year-old Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim), is due to stand trial in Mostar at the end of the February. It is alleged that he broke into the home of a Bosnian Croat family in the village of Kostajnica near Konjic, some 80 km south of Sarajevo, and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle. Pensioner Andjelko Andjelic and his daughters Zorica and Mara lost their lives in the incident. Andjelic's son Marinko was seriously wounded but survived. Topalovic could face a prison sentence of more than 20 years on charges of premeditated murder if found guilty. The Christmas Eve attack on the Andjelic family - Bosnian Croat refugees who returned home to the Bosniak-dominated region after the end of the war - sparked a nationwide wave of condemnation.

    Srdjan Dizdarevic, of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said the number of such incidents in the region has significantly increased in the wake of the October 2002 general elections, which saw the three main nationalist parties seize power after a poor turnout by voters. In the north-western Republika Srpska town of Prijedor alone, more than 20 ethnically motivated incidents have been recorded since October 2002. In the first 10 months of the year, only two such attacks had taken place. "It looks like the election results have encouraged criminal and nationalistic elements in Bosnia-Herzegovina," said Dizdarevic.

    Western officials and agencies could not confirm nor deny the existence of any such trend, partly because policing functions were transferred from the United Nations to the European Union on December 31, 2002, and statistics are not readily available. Topalovic first came to public attention in early 2002. He gave an interview to Sarajevo's independent weekly newspaper Slobodna Bosna, in which he described how he travelled to Serbia in October 1998 hoping to assassinate former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, only to be arrested by border police. As a result, he spent more than three years in prisons in Sabac and Sremska Mitrovica, where he claimed he was severely beaten by prison guards. Topalovic's court-appointed defence lawyer Aid Glavovic told IWPR, "His life story is a classic example of post-traumatic stress disorder", adding that the accused was only 15 years of age when the Bosnian war started in 1992. However, others are pointing the finger at the influence of radical Islamic organisations, whose lectures Topalovic is believed to have attended.

    In 1996, Topalovic joined the Vehabije - Muslims who follow a radical form of Islam, at odds with Bosnia's more tolerant Ottoman Muslim heritage. The group takes its name from the Wahabbi sect, a Saudi-based movement, whose adherents see themselves as the only true Muslims. Two organisations promote Wahabbi Islam in Bosnia - Active Islamic Youth and Al Furkan. At the beginning of the police investigation, Topalovic apparently told officers that he was a member of both - a claim that has since been denied by the organisations. Mustafa Ceric, the leader of Bosnia's Muslim community, was among the first to condemn the murder of innocent Croat returnees as "a crime against the faith of Islam", and called on young people to "stay away from superstition, false books, and teachers who do not want to understand the authentic life in our homeland". Whatever the motive for the killings, much of the country briefly united in condemning the violent nationalism that appears to be on the rise since October. Even Topalovic's father, Avdija, joined the chorus. "He is not my son any more. I do not want to hear about him ever again, ©Institute for War & Peace Reporting

    SERBIA FACES RIGHT-WING DILEMMA
    The Serb government fears curbing activities of Belgrade's extremist gangs may lead to it losing the nationalist vote.
    By Milanka Saponja Hadzic in Belgrade

    The Serbian authorities are coming under increasing pressure to take action against right-wing groups following a recent spate of nationalist violence. Local non-governmental organisations, NGOs, and international groups are holding a conference in Belgrade on February 2 to highlight the threat posed by extremism. Analysts believe that the government is too afraid of losing the nationalist vote to punish groups such as Obraz (Face) and The Society of St Justin the Philosopher - which date from the time of Slobodan Milosevic and have been linked to a number of recent attacks. Vesna Rakic-Vodinelic, of the University of Belgrade's law faculty, told IWPR that action is needed. "The authorities must show some sign that they want to stand up to the right-wing," she said. Prosecutors are yet to press charges for inciting national or religious hatred - even though the appropriate legislation is already on the statute books. "It is their duty according to the law to do so," continued Rakic-Vodinelic.

    In the latest incident, nationalist youths broke up an Anglican Church service in Belgrade on December 24, claiming that the worshippers - including the British ambassador Charles Crawford - were "anti-Orthodox proselytisers". Around 30 men, carrying Serbian icons, stopped Belgrade's Anglican chaplain Philip Warner from holding the traditional service in the chapel of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate. Journalists who were present reported recognising members of St Justin and Obraz among the gang, as well as students from the university's theology department. Although the police were present throughout they took no action, claiming that the safety of the congregation and the ambassador was never in danger and that use of force may have exacerbated the situation. While the incident provoked a flurry of comment in the media and the capital, there was very little reaction from the authorities.

    The speaker of the Yugoslav parliament, Dragoljub Micunovic, apologised to Ambassador Crawford for the disruption of the service, but did not condemn those responsible with any conviction. Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic did not speak out at all. While Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica described the protest "an affront to the Church and its faithful, as much as to the state and the nation", he has been criticised by liberals for not using his powers to act against the perpetrators. "The president acts as if he were a member of a NGO, issuing statements instead of using his competencies as head of state," said Dusan Janjic, head of the Forum For Inter-Ethnic Relations. The harassment of the Anglican churchgoers follows a wave of disturbing acts of violence perpetrated against foreign nationals and non-whites in Belgrade and other towns. Towards the end of December, a security employee stopped Jenny Grant, a dark-skinned Cuban language instructor at the university's faculty of languages, from entering a Greek hypermarket store in the capital. Gesturing towards a nearby flea market, he allegedly told her, "Gypsies buy over there."

    The same month, a group of Belgrade skinheads assaulted the husband of a dark-skinned Canadian when he tried to stop them harassing his wife. The police intervened, but charges were never brought. In Kragujevac, also in December, unknown arsonists burned down two Chinese-owned businesses. At the same time, a few km away in Cacak, the house of a well-known Jewish doctor was daubed with slogans referring to "Kristalnacht" - the Night of Broken Glass, when thousands of Jewish homes and businesses were destroyed in 1938 Berlin. Similar anti-Semitic slogans were painted all over the town - most bearing the symbol of Obraz. Obraz is the most notorious extremist group in Serbia, and boasts aro ©Institute for War & Peace Reporting

    RACE PROBE WANTS YOUR STORIES(Canada)
    Inquiry is seeking real-life accounts of discrimination

    Anyone who has felt the sting of racial profiling is being asked to tell their story to Ontario's human rights body. Over the next 10 days, the Ontario Human Rights Commission's inquiry into the highly charged issue seeks e-mails, phone calls and letters from people who have suffered from stereotyping at the hands of police and other authority figures. "Racial profiling in any context is wrong," chief commissioner Keith Norton said yesterday. "We are concerned about the negative impacts of this practice on individuals and entire communities." Starting today, the commission is inviting people to tell their stories of being discriminated against through racial profiling by police, bosses, school officials or landlords. After phone lines are closed and all the on-line questionnaires are collected, the commission will analyze the information and then begin a second phase of the inquiry, holding hearings throughout Ontario. The venues for the public sessions (which start in late March) will be determined by the response the inquiry receives. A final report by the commission will be released in the fall, said François Larsen, the commission's acting director of policy and education. "We feel that it is necessary to do some strong public education and awareness around this so people realize what is so wrong with this," Larsen said.

    Norton announced the inquiry into the practice of racial profiling in December following the Star's series on race and crime. That series suggested that blacks were treated more harshly than whites by police. The commission's study will go beyond just policing. It will look into the broader issues of racial profiling, including how stereotyping affects people in the workplace, in housing, or simply finding a taxi. The commission said it's particularly interested in hearing from young people who have been singled out by authorities due to their colour or origin. According to the commission, racial profiling is defined by "any action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection, that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin ... rather than reasonable suspicion to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment." At this stage, the commission will rely on people contacting them through e-mail, telephone, or in writing. An online questionnaire can be filled out, or people can phone the commission toll free at 1-800-387-9080 or (416) 326-9511 in Toronto between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays, starting today until Feb. 28. People can also mail their stories to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, 180 Dundas Street W. 8th Floor, Toronto, ON M7A 2R9

    The issue of racial profiling will also be centre stage next Tuesday when the Summit on Racial Profiling reconvenes to give the public an update on what has happened since police, politicians, and community leaders met three months ago. Former lieutenant-governor Lincoln Alexander is chairing the summit. When the summit leaders met in November, they pledged a zero-tolerance policy on racial profiling and vowed to restore confidence in the police complaints system. Alexander's summit was also sparked by the Star's crime series, which was based on an analysis of a police arrest database which the newspaper got through a Freedom of Information request. The database records more than 480,000 incidents in which an individual was arrested or ticketed, and almost 800,000 criminal and other charges. The Star's analysis of the data found that blacks charged with simple drug possession were taken to a police station more often than whites facing the same charge. Once at the station, black suspects were held overnight for a bail hearing at twice the rate of whites. Possible mitigating factors such as a previous conviction, state of employment and whether he or she listed a home address were taken into account in the analysis. The data also showed a disproportionate number of black motorists in the database were ticketed for offences that routinely would come to light only following a traffic stop. Civil libertarians and criminologists say this pattern points to racial profiling, whether conscious or not.
    ©The Toronto Star

    DRUMMING UP BUSINESS-Editorial(Canada)
    Rights commission is misguided in its anti-profiling campaign

    'Racial profiling concerns us all." So says a large advertisement that appeared in newspapers recently, paid for by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The commission is soliciting complaints from people who think they have been victimized for their skin colour, religion, ethnicity or ancestry. Such persecution used to be called racism. Now it falls under the label of "racial profiling" -- the new buzzword in activist circles. There's a distinction, however. Racists are guilty of what's called "essentialism." They believe, for example, that blacks are congenitally inferior and therefore deserve contempt or ill-treatment. Racism is irrational. Anti-Semitism, for instance, built upon fantasies of Jewish conspiracies, has long exposed the delusional impulse behind the racist mind. Denying Jews property rights or forcing blacks to use separate washrooms: these things are unlawful discrimination. "Profiling" is different. It is not rooted in unfounded prejudices but in empirical evidence, something the rights commission won't concede. Eleven years ago, for example, it championed the case of Michael Bates, a young man who cried discrimination because his insurance firm charged higher premiums for car insurance than it would have had he been over 25 years old, or female.

    The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the commission. Insurers don't charge higher premiums because they harbour irrational prejudices against teenage boys; they do it because those drivers tend to get into more accidents, and more serious ones, than anyone else. In a technical sense, the court said, charging teenage drivers higher premiums is discrimination (or profiling), but the court decided that it was justified on "reasonable and bona fide grounds." Customs officers also use profiling. They might have intelligence that a drug courier is arriving in Vancouver from Hong Kong. They might also know from experience that drug couriers from Hong Kong often are, say, Chinese females between 20 and 25, travelling alone. It's impractical to screen all 300 passengers, so customs officials search the luggage only of those who fit the demographic.

    Yet Keith Norton, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, says that "racial profiling in any context is wrong." Really? What if it's not drug dealers but al-Qaeda operatives flying into Vancouver? Most members of al-Qaeda are young Muslim men, so police naturally will check out the 25-year-old man with a Pakistani passport rather than the Japanese grandmother. Most Muslims are not terrorists, obviously. But all members of al-Qaeda are Muslim. It's not racist for security agencies to make use of that information. A female motorist who only picks up female hitchhikers is using good judgment because, after all, most rapists are men. Ordinary people don't have a problem with this thinking. Rights commissions risk irrelevance when they become tone-deaf to common sense. Maybe the spectre of irrelevance motivated the commission to issue this strange, gimmicky call for supposed victims of profiling. The phones will be ringing off the hook. Hundreds of fresh racism complaints are just the thing to breathe life into the tired human-rights industry. Surely the Ontario Human Rights Commission can find a more productive use of its time.
    ©The Ottawa Citizen

    HOLOCAUST DENIER WANTS REFUGEE STATUS, GROUP SAYS
    The Americans don't want him, so Ernst Zundel is back in Canada

    Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was forcibly returned to Canada Wednesday from the United States. Mr. Zundel spent most of the day in a Fort Erie, Ont., immigration centre after he was taken across the border from the United States, where he had been living for about three years. Later, he smiled and waved to journalists from a minivan that was driven to a Niagara Falls detention centre. The Canadian Jewish Congress, which has been fighting Mr. Zundel's anti-Semitic rants for years, says Mr. Zundel is pursuing a claim for refugee status. Sources in Ottawa said Immigration Minister Denis Coderre was "furious" when he learned that Mr. Zundel had returned to Canada. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mr. Coderre did not refer to Mr. Zundel by name but decried those who would make a "mockery" of Canada's refugee-protection system. "I'm totally dedicated to making sure that the legitimate people who are seeking our generosity will be facilitated," he said outside the House of Commons. "But ... those who are trying the system and who give a bad reputation to our system should be careful." Immigration Department officials would not answer questions about the status of the German-born Mr. Zundel. The Holocaust denier had been living in Tennessee after leaving Canada, where he had permanent-resident status for most of his life. He left Canada a bitter man, angered at this country's many attempts to silence his views.

    Mr. Zundel was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agents two weeks ago at his home outside Knoxville. He is alleged to have overstayed his visitor's visa. The United States tried to remove Mr. Zundel on Monday but he was refused entry by Canadian officials, an INS spokesman said. "I think that sometimes when there is a transfer between two countries, issues arise," Mike Gilhooly said. "But they were addressed." The United States says Mr. Zundel was removed from the country under the terms of a 1987 cross-border treaty with Canada, and that he cannot return to the United States for 20 years. Canada no longer considers Mr. Zundel a permanent resident, so he has claimed refugee status, Bernie Farber, a spokesman for the Canadian Jewish Congress, said in an interview. Mr. Farber, who has been tracking Mr. Zundel for years, said sources have told him that Mr. Zundel had applied for refugee status. A spokesman for the German embassy confirmed Wednesday that Mr. Zundel is the subject of an outstanding warrant in Germany. In the early 1990s, Mr. Zundel was fined the equivalent of $9,000 for breaking Germany's antihate laws during a visit to Munich.

    A claim of refugee status by Mr. Zundel would present a bizarre clash of the principles of refugee protections and hate-crime laws. It would require an assertion that his native country of Germany is going to persecute him for his beliefs if he is returned there. Germany has some of the world's strictest hate-crime laws. However, Canada's refugee laws also have provisions to prevent people from hiding from foreign criminal charges in Canada by claiming refugee status, although only in some circumstances. When he left Canada, Mr. Zundel was a landed immigrant with "permanent-resident" status in Canada, meaning he could stay as long as he wanted. But that status can be lost if a permanent resident leaves Canada for too long. Under the old law, in effect when Mr. Zundel left, spending more than six months out of the country would force him to prove he had not abandoned his Canadian residency. Under the new law, in effect since June 28, 2002, he would have to prove that same claim if he has been out of Canada more than two of the past five years, which he has. If Mr. Zundel pursues a claim for refugee status, however, it would appear he has given up on claiming that his "permanent-resident" status in Canada is valid.
    ©Globe and Mail

    IRELAND: GARDA 'NETS' ON IMMIGRANTS SEEN AS ALIENATING
    Europe Intelligence Wire via NewsEdge Corporation : Future large-scale Garda operations targeting illegal immigrants could seriously alienate the trust of ethnic communities, a Government advisory body warns in a new report. Imprecise 'net' operations like last summer's Operation Hyphen are both inefficient and counterproductive and should not be continued, says the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI), which also expresses concern at the role of a small number of immigration officers. The report also notes a 'huge upsurge' in racist e-mails and literature, including during the second Nice referendum when stickers were put on lamp-posts in inner-city Dublin encouraging people to take action on the 'invasion' of foreigners. It found a significant increase in the number of racist and offensive e-mails, letters and mobile phone text messages sent to organisations working against racism. Last July's high-profile Garda operation cost E101,518 and led to the detention of 140 people. Fifty out of a total of 74 people charged with immigration-related offences were subsequently released after they proved they were legally resident in the State, and 15 unsuccessful asylum-seekers were deported. The NCCRI says it received 19 representations from individuals or organisations working with minority ethnic groups following the two-day operation. They were concerned that the initiative could convey the impression that entire communities were being targeted rather than individuals, and this could erode good relationships in some areas between gardai and new communities.

    'Large-scale and imprecise net operations such as 'Operation Hyphen' should cease,' the report concludes. 'They are both inefficient and counterproductive. Where necessary, there should be more focused, low-key operations to enforce immigration and residence legislation. Further operations similar to Operation Hyphen have the potential to seriously alienate the trust of minority ethnic communities in Ireland.' It also says the role of 'a small number' of immigration officers continues to be of concern and has the potential to undermine the high quality of work undertaken by the profession as a whole. Increased monitoring of standards of service should be introduced, it says. The report comes amid renewed fears among thousands of non-EU immigrants following the recent Supreme Court ruling that non-national parents of Irish citizens can be deported. The Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, has ruled out mass deportations and said applications for residency from the parents of Irish citizens will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

    The NCCRI report is part of its ongoing recording of racism-related incidents, details of which are forwarded to the committee by individuals or groups. A total of 67 incidents were reported by people of 23 nationalities during the period May to October last year. Racist abuse, harassment and 'other forms of cultural disrespect' were the most common form of incident reported, with a smaller number of serious assaults. The incidents included:

  • An attack on a woman of Asian ethnic origin by a group of youths in Dublin city centre; a taxi-driver and some bystanders came to her assistance.

  • A serious assault on a Zimbabwean man who was also subjected to racist insults by a man in a cloakroom queue in a Dublin night-club.

  • An attack on 20 Traveller families near Laytown, Co Meath, who had their trailers covered with effluent from a spray unit.

  • ©Financial Times

    ECRI GENERAL POLICY RECOMMENDATION N°7 ON NATIONAL LEGISTLATION TO COMBAT RACISM
    The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI):

    Recalling the Declaration adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Council of Europe at their first Summit held in Vienna on 8-9 October 1993;
    Recalling that the Plan of Action on combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance set out as part of this Declaration invited the Committee of Ministers to establish the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance with a mandate, inter alia, to formulate general policy recommendations to member States;
    Recalling also the Final Declaration and Action Plan adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Council of Europe at their second Summit held in Strasbourg on 10-11 October 1997;
    Recalling that Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights;
    Having regard to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;
    Having regard to Convention No 111 of the International Labour Organisation concerning Discrimination (Employment and Occupation);
    Having regard to Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
    Having regard to Protocol No 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights which contains a general clause prohibiting discrimination;
    Having regard to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights;
    Taking into account the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
    Taking into account Directive 2000/43/EC of the Council of the European Union implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, and Directive 2000/78/EC of the Council of the European Union establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation;
    Having regard to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;
    Recalling ECRI's general policy recommendation No 1 on combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance and ECRI's general policy recommendation No 2 on specialised bodies to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at national level;
    Stressing that, in its country-by-country reports, ECRI regularly recommends to member States the adoption of effective legal measures aimed at combating racism and racial discrimination;
    Recalling that, in the Political Declaration adopted on 13 October 2000 at the concluding session of the European Conference against racism, the governments of member States of the Council of Europe committed themselves to adopting and implementing, wherever necessary, national legislation and administrative measures that expressly and specifically counter racism and prohibit racial discrimination in all spheres of public life;
    Recalling also the Declaration and the Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August to 8 September 2001;
    Aware that laws alone are not sufficient to eradicate racism and racial discrimination, but convinced that laws are essential in combating racism and racial discrimination;
    Stressing the vital importance of appropriate legal measures in combating racism and racial discrimination effectively and in a way which both acts as a deterrent and, as far as possible, is perceived by the victim as satisfactory;
    Convinced that the action of the State legislator against racism and racial discrimination also plays an educative function within society, transmitting the powerful message that no attempts to legitimise racism and racial dis KEY ELEMENTS OF NATIONAL LEGISLATION AGAINST RACISM AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

    I. Definitions

    1. For the purposes of this Recommendation, the following definitions shall apply :

  • a) "racism" shall mean the belief that a ground such as race1, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin justifies contempt for a person or a group of persons, or the notion of superiority of a person or a group of persons.

  • b) "direct racial discrimination" shall mean any differential treatment based on a ground such as race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin, which has no objective and reasonable justification. Differential treatment has no objective and reasonable justification if it does not pursue a legitimate aim or if there is not a reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be realised.

  • c) "indirect racial discrimination" shall mean cases where an apparently neutral factor such as a provision, criterion or practice cannot be as easily complied with by, or disadvantages, persons belonging to a group designated by a ground such as race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin, unless this factor has an objective and reasonable justification. This latter would be the case if it pursues a legitimate aim and if there is a reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be realised.


  • II. Constitutional law

    2. The constitution should enshrine the principle of equal treatment, the commitment of the State to promote equality as well as the right of individuals to be free from discrimination on grounds such as race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin. The constitution may provide that exceptions to the principle of equal treatment may be established by law, provided that they do not constitute discrimination.

    3. The constitution should provide that the exercise of freedom of expression, assembly and association may be restricted with a view to combating racism. Any such restrictions should be in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights.

    III. Civil and administrative law

    4. The law should clearly define and prohibit direct and indirect racial discrimination.

    5. The law should provide that the prohibition of racial discrimination does not prevent the maintenance or adoption of temporary special measures designed either to prevent or compensate for disadvantages suffered by persons designated by the grounds enumerated in paragraph 1 b) (henceforth: enumerated grounds), or to facilitate their full participation in all fields of life. These measures should not be continued once the intended objectives have been achieved.

    6. The law should provide that the following acts, inter alia, are considered as forms of discrimination: segregation; discrimination by association; announced intention to discriminate; instructing another to discriminate; inciting another to discriminate; aiding another to discriminate.

    7. The law should provide that the prohibition of discrimination applies to all public authorities as well as to all natural or legal persons, both in the public and in the private sectors, in all areas, notably: employment; membership of professional organisations; education; training; housing; health; social protection; goods and services intended for the public and public places; exercise of economic activity; public services.

    8. The law should place public authorities under a duty to promote equality and to prevent discrimination in carrying out their functions.

    9. The law should place public authorities under a duty to ensure that those parties to whom they award contracts, loans, grants or other benefits respect and promote a policy of non-discrimination. In particular, the law should provide that public authorities should subject the awarding an ongoing basis, the conformity with the prohibition of discrimination of all laws, regulations and administrative provisions at the national and local levels. Laws, regulations and administrative provisions found not to be in conformity with the prohibition of discrimination should be amended or abrogated.

    14. The law should provide that discriminatory provisions which are included in individual or collective contracts or agreements, internal regulations of enterprises, rules governing profit-making or non-profit-making associations, and rules governing the independent professions and workers' and employers' organisations should be amended or declared null and void.

    15. The law should provide that harassment related to one of the enumerated grounds is prohibited.

    16. The law should provide for an obligation to suppress public financing of organisations which promote racism. Where a system of public financing of political parties is in place, such an obligation should include the suppression of public financing of political parties which promote racism.

    17. The law should provide for the possibility of dissolution of organisations which promote racism.

    IV. Criminal law

    18. The law should penalise the following acts when committed intentionally:
    a) public incitement to violence, hatred or discrimination,
    b) public insults and defamation or
    c) threats
    against a person or a grouping of persons on the grounds of their race, colour, language, religion, nationality, or national or ethnic origin;

    d) the public expression, with a racist aim, of an ideology which claims the superiority of, or which depreciates or denigrates, a grouping of persons on the grounds of their race, colour, language, religion, nationality, or national or ethnic origin;
    e) the public denial, trivialisation, justification or condoning, with a racist aim, of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes;
    f) the public dissemination or public distribution, or the production or storage aimed at public dissemination or public distribution, with a racist aim, of written, pictorial or other material containing manifestations covered by paragraphs 18 a), b), c), d) and e);
    g) the creation or the leadership of a group which promotes racism ; support for such a group ; and participation in its activities with the intention of contributing to the offences covered by paragraph 18 a), b), c), d), e) and f);
    h) racial discrimination in the exercise of one's public office or occupation.

    19. The law should penalise genocide.

    20. The law should provide that intentionally instigating, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit any of the criminal offences covered by paragraphs 18 and 19 is punishable.

    21. The law should provide that, for all criminal offences not specified in paragraphs 18 and 19, racist motivation constitutes an aggravating circumstance.

    22. The law should provide that legal persons are held responsible under criminal law for the offences set out in paragraphs 18, 19, 20 and 21.

    23. The law should provide for effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for the offences set out in paragraphs 18, 19, 20 and 21. The law should also provide for ancillary or alternative sanctions.

    V. Common provisions
    24. The law should provide for the establishment of an independent specialised body to combat racism and racial discrimination at national level (henceforth: national specialised body). The law should include within the competence of such a body: assistance to victims; investigation powers; the right to initiate, and participate in, court proceedings; monitoring legislation and advice to legislative and executive authorities; awareness-raising of issues of racism and racial discrimination among society and promotion of policies and practices to ensure equal treatment.

    25. The law should provide that organisations such as associations, trade unions and other legal entities which have, according to the criteria laid down by the national law, a legitimate interest in combating racism and racial discrimination, are entitled to bring civil cases, intervene in administrative cases or make criminal complaints, even if a specific victim is not referred to. If a specific victim is referred to, it should be necessary for that victim's consent to be obtained.

    26. The law should guarantee free legal aid and, where necessary, a court-appointed lawyer, for victims who wish to go before the courts as applicants or plaintiffs and who do not have the necessary means to do so. If necessary, an interpreter should be provided free of charge.

    27. The law should provide protection against any retaliatory measures for persons claiming to be victims of racial offences or racial discrimination, persons reporting such acts or persons providing evidence.

    28. The law should provide for one or more independent bodies entrusted with the investigation of alleged acts of discrimination committed by members of the police, border control officials, members of the army and prison personnel.

    EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM TO ECRI GENERAL POLICY RECOMMENDATION N°7 ON NATIONAL LEGISLATION TO COMBAT RACISM AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

    Introduction
    1. This general policy recommendation (hereafter: the Recommendation) focuses on the key elements of national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination. Although ECRI is aware that legal means alone are not sufficient to this end, it believes that national legislation against racism and racial discrimination is necessary to combat these phenomena effectively.

    2. In the framework of its country-by-country approach, ECRI regularly recommends to member States of the Council of Europe the adoption of effective legal measures aimed at combating racism and racial discrimination. The Recommendation aims to provide an overview of these measures and to clarify and complement the recommendations formulated in this respect in ECRI's country-by-country reports. The Recommendation also aims to reflect the general principles contained in the international instruments mentioned in the Preamble.

    3. ECRI believes that appropriate legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination should include provisions in all branches of the law, i.e. constitutional, civil, administrative and criminal law. Only such an integrated approach will enable member States to address these problems in a manner which is as exhaustive, effective and satisfactory from the point of view of the victim as possible. In the field of combating racism and racial discrimination, civil and administrative law often provides for flexible legal means, which may facilitate the victims' recourse to legal action. Criminal law has a symbolic effect which raises the awareness of society of the seriousness of racism and racial discrimination and has a strong dissuasive effect, provided it is implemented effectively. ECRI has taken into account the fact that the possibilities offered by the different branches of the law are complementary. As regards in particular the fight against racial discrimination, ECRI recommends that the member States of the Council of Europe adopt constitutional, civil and administrative law provisions, and that, in certain cases, they additionally adopt criminal law provisions.

    4. The legal measures necessary to combat racism and racial discrimination at national level are presented in the form of key components which should be contained in the national legislation of member States. ECRI stresses that the measures it recommends are compatible with different legal systems, be they common law or civil law or mixed. Furthermore, those components that ECRI considers to be key to an effective legal framework against racism and racial discrimination may be adapted to the specific conditions of each country. They could thus be set out in a single special act or laid out in the different areas of national legislation (civil law, administrative law and penal law). These key components might also be included in broader legislation encompassing the fight against racism and racial discrimination. For example, when adopting legal measures against discrimination, member States might prohibit, alongside racial discrimination, other forms of discrimination such as those based on gender, sexual orientation, disability, political or other opinion, social origin, property, birth or other status. Finally, in a number of fields, member States might simply apply general rules, which it is therefore not necessary to set out in this Recommendation. This is the position, for example, in civil law, for multiple liability, vicarious liability, and for the establishment of levels of damages; in criminal law, for the conditions of liability, and the sentencing structure; and in procedural matters, for the organisation and jurisdiction of the courts.

    5. In any event, these key components represent only a minimum standard; this means that they are compatible with legal provisions offering a greater level of protection adopted or to be adopted by a member State and th colour, religion, language, nationality and national and ethnic origin. As a result, the expressions "racism" and "racial discrimination" used in the Recommendation encompass all the phenomena covered by ECRI's mandate. National origin is sometimes interpreted as including the concept of nationality. However, in order to ensure that this concept is indeed covered, it is expressly included in the list of grounds, in addition to national origin. The use of the expression "grounds such as" in the definitions of racism and direct and indirect racial discrimination aims at establishing an open-ended list of grounds, thereby allowing it to evolve with society. However, in criminal law, an exhaustive list of grounds could be established in order to respect the principle of forseeability which governs this branch of the law.

    7. Unlike the definition of racial discrimination (paragraphs 1 b) and c) of the Recommendation), which should be included in the law, the definition of racism is provided for the purposes of the Recommendation, and member States may or may not decide to define racism within the law. If they decide to do so, they may, as regards criminal law, adopt a more precise definition than that set out in paragraph 1 a), in order to respect the fundamental principles of this branch of the law. For racism to have taken place, it is not necessary that one or more of the grounds listed should constitute the only factor or the determining factor leading to contempt or the notion of superiority; it suffices that these grounds are among the factors leading to contempt or the notion of superiority.

    8. The definitions of direct and indirect racial discrimination contained in paragraph 1 b) and c) of the Recommendation draw inspiration from those contained in the Directive 2000/43/CE of the Council of the European Union implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin and in the Directive 2000/78/CE of the Council of the European Union establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation as well as on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. In accordance with this case-law, differential treatment constitutes discrimination if it has no objective and reasonable justification. This principle applies to differential treatment based on any of the grounds enumerated in the definition of racial discrimination. However, differential treatment based on race, colour and ethnic origin may have an objective and reasonable justification only in an extremely limited number of cases. For instance, in employment, where colour constitutes a genuine and determining occupational requirement by reason of the nature of the particular occupational activities concerned or of the context in which they are carried out, differential treatment based on this ground may have an objective and reasonable justification. More generally, the notion of objective and reasonable justification should be interpreted as restrictively as possible with respect to differential treatment based on any of the enumerated grounds.

    II. Constitutional law

    9. In the Recommendation, the term "constitution" should be understood in a broad sense, including basic laws and written and unwritten basic rules. In paragraphs 2 and 3, the Recommendation provides for certain principles that should be contained in the constitution; such principles are to be implemented by statutory and regulatory provisions.

    Paragraph 2 of the Recommendation
    10. In paragraph 2, the Recommendation allows for the possibility of providing in the law for exceptions to the principle of equal treatment, provided that they do not constitute discrimination. For this condition to be met, in accordance with the definitions of discrimination proposed in paragraph 1 b) and c) of the Recommendation, the exceptions must have an objective and reasonable justification. This principle applies to all exceptions, including those establishing differential treatment on the basis of nationality.

    Paragraph 3 of the Recommendation
    11. According to paragraph 3 of the Recommendation, the constitution should provide that the exercise of freedom of expression, assembly and association may be restricted with a view to combating racism. In articles 10 (2) and 11 (2), the European Convention on Human Rights enumerates the aims which may justify restrictions to these freedoms. Although the fight against racism is not mentioned as one of these aims, in its case-law the European Court of Human Rights has considered that it is included. In accordance with the articles of the Convention mentioned above, these restrictions should be prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society.

    III. Civil and administrative law

    Paragraph 4 of the Recommendation
    12. The Recommendation provides in paragraph 4 that the law should clearly define and prohibit direct and indirect racial discrimination. It offers a definition of direct and indirect racial discrimination in paragraph 1 b) and c). The meaning of the expression "differential treatment" is wide and includes any distinction, exclusion, restriction, preference or omission, be it past, present or potential. The term "ground" must include grounds which are actual or presumed. For instance, if a person experiences adverse treatment due to the presumption that he or she is a Muslim, when in reality this is not the case, this treatment would still constitute discrimination on the basis of religion.

    13. Discriminatory actions are rarely based solely on one or more of the enumerated grounds, but are rather based on a combination of these grounds with other factors. For discrimination to occur, it is therefore sufficient that one of the enumerated grounds constitutes one of the factors leading to the differential treatment. The use of restrictive expressions such as "difference of treatment solely or exclusively based on grounds such as ..." should therefore be avoided.

    Paragraph 5 of the Recommendation
    14. In its paragraph 5, the Recommendation provides for the possibility of temporary special measures designed either to prevent or compensate for disadvantages suffered by persons designated by the enumerated grounds, or to facilitate their full participation in all fields of life. An example of temporary special measures designed to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to the enumerated grounds: a factory owner who has no black employees among his managerial staff but many black employees on the assembly line might organise a training course for black workers seeking promotion. An example of temporary special measures designed to facilitate the full participation, in all fields of life, of persons designated by the enumerated grounds: the police could organise a recruitment campaign designed so as to encourage applications particularly from members of certain ethnic groups who are under-represented within the police.

    Paragraph 6 of the Recommendation
    15. The Recommendation specifically mentions in paragraph 6 certain acts contacts with one or more persons designated by one of the enumerated grounds. This would be the case, for example, of the refusal to employ a person because s/he is married to a person belonging to a certain ethnic group.
  • The announced intention to discriminate should be considered as discrimination, even in the absence of a specific victim. For instance, an employment advertisement indicating that Roma/Gypsies need not apply should fall within the scope of the legislation, even if no Roma/Gypsy has actually applied.


  • Paragraph 7 of the Recommendation
    17. According to paragraph 7 of the Recommendation, the prohibition of discrimination should apply in all areas. Concerning employment, the prohibition of discrimination should cover access to employment, occupation and self-employment as well as work conditions, remunerations, promotions and dismissals.

    18. As concerns membership of professional organisations, the prohibition of discrimination should cover: membership of an organisation of workers or employers, or any organisation whose members carry on a particular profession ; involvement in such organisations ; and the benefits provided for by such organisations.

    19. Concerning education, the prohibition of discrimination should cover pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education, both public and private. Furthermore, access to education should not depend on the immigration status of the children or their parents.

    20. As concerns training, the prohibition of discrimination should cover initial and on-going vocational training, all types and all levels of vocational guidance, advanced vocational training and retraining, including the acquisition of practical work experience.

    21. As concerns housing, discrimination should be prohibited in particular in access to housing, in housing conditions and in the termination of rental contracts.

    22. As concerns health, discrimination should be prohibited in particular in access to care and treatment, and in the way in which care is dispensed and patients are treated.

    23. Concerning social protection, the prohibition of discrimination should cover social security, social benefits, social aid (housing benefits, youth benefits, etc.) and the way in which the beneficiaries of social protection are treated.

    24. As concerns goods and services intended for the public and public places, discrimination should be prohibited, for instance, when buying goods in a shop, when applying for a loan from a bank and in access to discotheques, cafés or restaurants. The prohibition of discrimination should not only target those who make goods and services available to others, but also those who receive goods and services from others, as would be the case of a company which selects the providers of a given good or service on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds.

    25. Concerning the exercise of economic activity, this field covers competition law, relations between enterprises and relations between enterprises and the State.

    26. The field of public services includes the activities of the police and other law enforcement officials, border control officials, the army and prison personnel.

    Paragraph 8 of the Recommendation
    27. According to paragraph 8 of the Recommendation, the law should place public authorities under a duty to promote equality and to prevent discrimination in carrying out their functions. The obligations incumbent on such authorities should be spelled out as clearly as possible in the law. To this end, public authorities could be placed under the obligation to create and implement "equality programmes" drawn up with the assistance of the national specialised body referred to in paragraph 24 of the Recommendation. The law should provide for the regular assessment of the equality programmes, the monitoring of their effects, as well as for effective implementation mechanisms and the possibility for legal enforcement of these programmes, notably through the national specialised body. An equality programme could, for example, include the nomination of a contact person for dealing with issues of racial discrimination and harassment or the organisation of staff training courses on discrimination. As regards the obligation to promote equality and prevent discrimination, the Recommendation covers only public authorities; however, it would be desirable were the private sector also placed under a similar obligation.

    Paragraph 10 of the Recommendation
    28. According to paragraph 10 of the Recommendation, in urgent cases, fast-track procedures, leading to interim decisions, should be available to victims of discrimination. These procedures are important in those situations where the immediate consequences of the alleged discriminatory act are particularly serious or even irreparable. Thus, for example, the victims of a discriminatory eviction from a flat should be able to suspend this measure through an interim judicial decision, pending the final judgement of the case.

    Paragraph 11 of the Recommendation
    29. Given the difficulties complainants face in collecting the necessary evidence in discrimination cases, the law should facilitate proof of discrimination. For this reason, according to paragraph 11 of the Recommendation, the law should provide for a shared burden of proof in such cases. A shared burden of proof means that the complainant should establish facts allowing for the presumption of discrimination, whereupon the onus shifts to the respondent to prove that discrimination did not take place. Thus, in case of alleged direct racial discrimination, the respondent must prove that the differential treatment has an objective and reasonable justification. For example, if access to a swimming pool is denied to Roma/Gypsy children, it would be sufficient for the complainant to prove that access was denied to these children and granted to non-Roma/Gypsy children. It should then be for the respondent to prove that this denial to grant access was based on an objective and reasonable justification, such as the fact that the children in question did not have bathing hats, as required to access the swimming pool. The same principle should apply to alleged cases of indirect racial discrimination.

    30. As concerns the power to obtain the necessary evidence and information, courts should enjoy all adequate powers in this respect. Such powers should be also given to any specialised body competent to adjudicate on an individual complaint of discrimination (see paragraph 55 of the present Explanatory Memorandum).

    Paragraph 12 of the Recommendation
    31. Paragraph 12 of the Recommendation states that the law should provide for effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for discrimination cases. Apart from the payment of compensation for material and moral damages, sanctions should include measures such as the restitution of rights which have been lost. For instance, the law should enable the court to order re-admittance into a firm or flat, provided that the rights of third parties are respected. In the case of discriminatory refusal to recruit a person, the law should provide that, according to the circumstances, the court could order th and supervision of such programmes.

    Paragraph 15 of the Recommendation
    35. According to paragraph 15 of the Recommendation the law should provide that harassment related to one of the enumerated grounds is prohibited. Harassment consists in conduct related to one of the enumerated grounds which has the purpose or the effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. As far as possible, protection against harassment related to one of the enumerated grounds should not only target the conduct of the author of the harassment but also that of other persons. For instance, it should be possible for the employer to be held responsible, where applicable, for harassment by colleagues, other employees or third parties (such as clients and suppliers).

    Paragraph 16 of the Recommendation
    36. Paragraph 16 of the Recommendation states that the law should provide for the obligation to suppress public financing of political parties which promote racism. For example, public financing for electoral campaigns should be refused to such political parties.

    Paragraph 17 of the Recommendation
    37. Paragraph 17 of the Recommendation states that the law should provide for the possibility of the dissolution of organisations which promote racism. In all cases, the dissolution of such organisations may result only from a Court decision. The issue of the dissolution of these organisations is also dealt with under Section IV - Criminal law (see paragraphs 43 and 49 of the present Explanatory Memorandum)

    IV. Criminal law

    Paragraph 18 of the Recommendation
    38. The Recommendation limits the scope of certain criminal offences set out in paragraph 18 to the condition that they are committed in "public". Current practice shows that, in certain cases, racist conduct escapes prosecution because it is not considered as being of a public nature. Consequently, member States should ensure that it should not be too difficult to meet the condition of being committed in "public". Thus, for instance, this condition should be met in cases of words pronounced during meetings of neo-Nazi organisations or words exchanged in a discussion forum on the Internet.

    39. Some of the offences set out in paragraph 18 of the Recommendation concern conduct aimed at a "grouping of persons". Current practice shows that legal provisions aimed at sanctioning racist conduct frequently do not cover such conduct unless it is directed against a specific person or group of persons. As a result, expressions aimed at larger groupings of persons, as in the case of references to asylum seekers or foreigners in general, are often not covered by these provisions. For this reason, paragraph 18 a), b), c), and d) of the Recommendation does not speak of "group" but of "grouping" of persons.

    40. The term "defamation" contained in paragraph 18 b) should be understood in a broad sense, notably including slander and libel.

    41. Paragraph 18 e) of the Recommendation refers to the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The crime of genocide should be understood as defined in Article II of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and Article 6 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (see paragraph 45 of the present Explanatory Memorandum). Crimes against humanity and war crimes should be understood as defined in Articles 7 and 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

    42. Paragraph 18 f) of the Recommendation refers to the dissemination, distribution, production or storage of written, pictorial or other material containing racist manifestations. These notions include the dissemination of this material through the Internet. Such material includes musical supports such as records, tapes and compact discs, computer accessories (e.g. floppy discs, software), video tapes, DVDs and games.

    43. Paragraph 18 g) of the Recommendation provides for the criminalisation of certain acts related to groups which promote racism. The concept of group includes in particular de facto groups, organisations, associations and political parties. The Recommendation provides that the creation of a group which promotes racism should be prohibited. This prohibition also includes maintaining or reconstituting a group which has been prohibited. The issue of the dissolution of a group which promotes racism is also dealt with under Section III - Civil and administrative law (see paragraph 37 of the present Explanatory Memorandum) and below (see paragraph 49 of the present Explanatory Memorandum). Moreover, the notion of "support" includes acts such as providing financing to the group, providing for other material needs, producing or obtaining documents.

    44. In its paragraph 18 h) the Recommendation states that the law should penalise racial discrimination in the exercise of one's public office or occupation. On this point, the definitions contained in paragraphs 1 b) and c) and 5 of the Recommendation apply mutatis mutandis. Racial discrimination in the exercise of one's public office or occupation includes notably the discriminatory refusal of a service intended for the public, such as discriminatory refusal by a hospital to care for a person and the discriminatory refusal to sell a product, to grant a bank loan or to allow access to a discotheque, café or restaurant.

    Paragraph 19 of the Recommendation
    45. Paragraph 19 of the Recommendation provides that the law should penalise genocide. To this end, the crime of genocide should be unde criminal offences covered by paragraphs 18 and 19 should be punishable. This recommendation applies only to those offences for which instigating, aiding, abetting or attempting are possible.

    Paragraph 21 of the Recommendation
    47. According to paragraph 21 of the Recommendation, the racist motivation of the perpetrator of an offence other than those covered by paragraphs 18 and 19 should constitute an aggravating circumstance. Furthermore, the law may penalise common offences but with a racist motivation as specific offences.

    Paragraph 22 of the Recommendation
    48. According to paragraph 22 of the Recommendation, the law should provide for the criminal liability of legal persons. This liability should come into play when the offence has been committed on behalf of the legal person by any persons, particularly acting as the organ of the legal person (for example, President or Director) or as its representative. Criminal liability of a legal person does not exclude the criminal liability of natural persons. Public authorities may be excluded from criminal liability as legal persons.

    Paragraph 23 of the Recommendation
    49. According to paragraph 23 of the Recommendation, the law should provide for ancillary or alternative sanctions. Examples of these could include community work, participation in training courses, deprivation of certain civil or political rights (e.g. the right to exercise certain occupations or functions; voting or eligibility rights) or publication of all or part of a sentence. As regards legal persons, the list of possible sanctions could include, besides fines: refusal or cessation of public benefit or aid, disqualification from the practice of commercial activities, placing under judicial supervision, closure of the establishment used for committing the offence, seizure of the material used for committing the offence and the dissolution of the legal person (see on this last point paragraphs 37 and 43 of the present Explanatory Memorandum).

    V. Common provisions

    Paragraph 24 of the Recommendation
    50. According to paragraph 24 of the Recommendation, the law should provide for the establishment of an independent specialised body to combat racism and racial discrimination at national level. The basic principles concerning the statute of such a body, the forms it might take, its functions, responsibilities, administration, functioning and style of operation are set out in ECRI's general policy recommendation no 2 on specialised bodies to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at national level.

    51. The functions attributed to this body should be provided by law. The Recommendation enumerates a certain number of such functions. Assistance to victims covers provision of general advice to victims and legal assistance, including representation in proceedings before the courts. It also covers assistance in seeking friendly settlement of complaints.

    52. As concerns investigation powers, in order that a national specialised body may conduct these effectively, it is essential that the law provides the latter with the requisite powers, subject to the rules of procedure of the national legal order. This includes powers granted in the framework of an investigation, such as requesting the production for inspection and examination of documents and other elements; seizure of documents and other elements for the purpose of making copies or extracts; and questioning persons. The national specialised body should also be entitled to bring cases before the courts and to intervene in legal proceedings as an expert.

    53. The functions of the national specialised body should also include monitoring legislation against racism and racial discrimination and control of the conformity of legislation with equality principles. In this respect, the national specialised body should be entitled to formulate recommendations to the executive and legislative authorities on the way in which relevant legislation, reg is essential for addressing those cases of discrimination where it is difficult to identify such a victim or cases which affect an indeterminate number of victims.

    Paragraph 27 of the Recommendation
    57. According to paragraph 27 of the Recommendation, the law should provide protection against retaliation. Such protection should not only be afforded to the person who initiates proceedings or brings the complaint, but should also be extended to those who provide evidence, information or other assistance in connection with the court proceedings or the complaint. Such protection is vital to encourage the victims of racist offences and discrimination to put forward their complaints to the authorities and to encourage witnesses to give evidence. In order to be effective, the legal provisions protecting against retaliation should provide for an appropriate and clear sanction. This might include the possibility of an injunction order to stop the retaliatory acts and/or to compensate victims of such acts.

    Note 1 Since all human beings belong to the same species, ECRI rejects theories based on the existence of different "races". However, in this Recommendation ECRI uses this term in order to ensure that those persons who are generally and erroneously perceived as belonging to "another race" are not excluded from the protection provided for by the legislation.

    Note 2 ECRI understands the term "nationality" as defined in Article 2 a. of the European Convention on Nationality: " `nationality' means the legal bond between a person and a State and does not indicate the person's ethnic origin".
    © Council of Europe

    AUSTRIAN LEADER IN FAR-RIGHT TALKS
    Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel has said his People's Party is beginning formal talks to build a new coalition with the far-right Freedom Party. The decision comes almost three months after elections were called when a previous coalition between the two parties disintegrated. "I believe that we will within a few days form a successful coalition," Mr Schuessel said on Thursday following a meeting of his party. "I cannot leave Austria dangling on the eve of a war on Iraq."

    Political wrangling
    Mr Schuessel's People's Party had to choose between the Freedom Party (FPO) or the opposition Social Democrats (SPO). Talks with the country's Green Party failed last week. The People's Party made significant gains in November's elections, with 42% of the vote. However it needs a coalition partner in order to secure a parliamentary majority. BBC correspondent Barbara Miller says that if Mr Schuessel's People's Party does renew its alliance with the far-right populists, the Freedom Party's power in government will therefore be greatly diminished. Joerg Haider's party has rapidly deteriorated since its rise to prominence in 1999. Internal divisions and the resignation of several of its ministers leading to November's subsequent snap election and its subsequent humiliation at the polls, gaining only 10%, a loss of almost two-thirds of its voters. Mr Haider has since resigned from the leadership, saying he wished to concentrate on his duties as governor of the southern province of Carinthia.
    ©BBC News

    POLICE STRENGTHEN CONTROLS ON BORDERS (Czech Republic)
    Travellers crossing the Czech borders should be prepared for longer waits at checkpoints starting today, as police intend more thorough checks of foreign citizens entering the Czech Republic and other security measures. In connection with this situation, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said that the security measures will be implemented along the entire national border, and not merely along the western edge, as previously assumed. "Several details of these measures - for them to be effective - will not be made public. In essence, though, it is true that border security should concern the entire perimeter of the national border, though there of course may well be certain minor modifications," Gross said.

    The spokeswoman for the foreigner and border police in Plzen, Helena Fertesakova, told CTK that the police along the western border were responding with increased controls on foreign citizens entering the Czech Republic to the threat of military conflict with Iraq, which could well lead to massive flows of refugees from the region. "Though we do not expect that refugees will be heading towards central Europe, there is the chance that the Czech Republic will serve as a transit country for those heading westwards. For this reason, the border police will be thoroughly verifying travel documents, checking entering individuals with informational databases, and examining possible hiding spaces inside vehicles," Fertesakova said. Security measures along the "green border" will also be reinforced, and the police will be cooperating more than ever before with the organs of neighbouring states, she added.
    ©Czech Happenings

    ATTACKS AGAINST JEWS INCREASE(uk)
    Violence linked to Muslim anger over Israel

    Jews have been physically attacked by demonstrators protesting against Israel, a community watchdog claims today as it publishes figures showing a 13% increase in anti-semitic attacks last year. Attacks on Jews reached a peak during the Israeli reoccupation of Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank last spring. The Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-semitism, claimed there were two cases of Jewish people being beaten up by anti-Israel demonstrators. As well as noting a general increase in violent assaults on Jews, the trust's report said: "One woman was called a 'filthy Zionist Jew bitch' by someone on a Boycott Israeli Goods picket outside a Marks & Spencer store in London. "In Manchester, three Jewish buildings - with no connection to Israel - were defaced with Boycott Israel Apartheid stickers. "In another incident, a synagogue was daubed with the name of the Palestinian terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine." The report said: "It is now almost routine for extremists to express their hatred for Israel by attacking British Jews." There were a total of 350 incidents, including 47 violent assaults and 55 attacks on property, and the desecration of synagogues in London and Swansea and seven Jewish cemeteries. The report said there were 94 incidents in April and May, during and after the Israeli offensive in the West Bank.

    "Tension in the Middle East leads to anti-semitism," said Michael Whine, the trust's director of communications. "Increasing numbers of these incidents can be directly linked either to some attempt to support the Palestinian cause, or more frequently the attacks come from increasingly radicalised Muslim youth." Of the 350 incidents recorded, 100 involved reference to Israel or the Middle East or displayed strong evidence of anti-Israel motivation. Of the physical attacks, five were deemed to be extremely violent and in seven cases the victims needed hospital treatment. The report stated: "This increase in violent assaults is part of a long-term trend that has seen the number of violent anti-semitic attacks more than triple since 1996. "However the type of attack has become more violent since the start of Israeli-Palestinian violence in September 2000 [start of the current intifada]."

    The targets of physical attacks were people who were easily recognisable as Jewish - Orthodox men wearing beards and hats, a woman wearing a star of David, someone reading a Hebrew book on a train, Mr Whine said. As well as desecrations of synagogues in Finsbury Park and Swansea, there was an attempted petrol bombing of a synagogue in Edinburgh. In Milton Keynes, gravestones in a Jewish cemetery were defaced with swastikas. Anti-semitic incidents occurred on campuses. In Manchester, a brick was thrown through the window of Hillel House, the Jewish student residence, and a poster was stuck to the door of the building which read "Slaughter the Jews" in Arabic. The report said there had been a decrease in the distribution of anti-semitic literature and welcomed the successful prosecution of Iftikhar Ali, who handed out leaflets supporting holy war against Jews. Ali was fined £3,000 at Southwark crown court last May for inciting racial hatred. A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard said: "The figures for last year are disappointing and we are committed to working with the Community Security Trust to reduce the incidence of anti-semitism."
    ©The Guardian

    ASYLUM-SEEKERS ARE DISAPPEARING(Slovakia)
    Slovakia last year granted asylum to only 20 out of 9,743 asylum-seekers, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Liaison Office in Slovakia reported February 11. According to its spokeswoman, Mária Cierna, 8,053 asylum procedures were stopped because applicants disappeared from Slovak refugee camps, probably for western European countries. A further 309 applications were rejected by the Interior Ministry's migration office. Cierna said the UNHCR is alarmed at the high number of applicant "disappearances", and believes they might be caused by the proximity of Slovak refugee camps to the country's borders with Austria and the Czech Republic.
    ©The Slovak Spectator

    AFRICAN MUSICIAN ARRESTED FOR ALLEGED IMMIGRANT RACKET IN FRANCE
    A singer famed in his native Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for his brand of Afropop was in detention in Paris Friday after being formally placed under criminal investigation for allegedly masterminding an immigration scam. Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, better known as Papa Wemba, is suspected of organising visas in France for hundreds of DRC nationals over the past two years by passing them off as musicians. He charged each of the immigrants up to 3,200 euros (3,500 dollars) for the paperwork, the French interior ministry said. It added that Wemba had been under surveillance for some time because of suspicions raised when dozens of so-called musicians turned up without any instruments at airports. He was arrested when a tap on his mobile phone was revealed through a bureaucratic error which saw an fax sent to the singer's home, the ministry said. The 53-year-old, who is a citizen of Belgium -- the DRC's former colonial ruler -- has admitted to receiving 100,000 euros (110,000 dollars) from the immigrants, but claimed he was acting out of humanitarian motivations, a source close to the probe said. Born in Kinshasa (known then under the colonial name Leopoldville), Wemba carved out a stellar reputation from the 1970s for his style of African rumba, inspired by Cuban rhythms and played with some electronic instruments. The music took off across sub-Saharan Africa and among African immigrants everywhere, and Papa Wemba performed in concerts around the world, from New York to Tokyo, and recorded together with British singer Peter Gabriel. He moved to France in 1986, but kept up ties with the RDC, not only with the former regime of Mobutu Sese Seko but also by donations to help Kinshasa street children and to encourage new musical talent there.
    ©The Tocqueville Connection

    COLLEAGUES DEFEND JUDGE OVER ‘COLOURED PEOPLE' REMARKS(Ireland)
    A district court judge who sparked controversy over his remark that shopping centres might ban ‘coloured people' has been defended as exceptionally hard-working.

    Judge John Neilan has been widely criticised for warning two women from the Ivory Coast, Africa, who pleaded guilty to shoplifting in Longford that ‘coloured people' might be banned from local businesses altogether if such behaviour was not stamped out. The Green Party condemned the remarks and has called on the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, to introduce anti-racism training for judges. But last night, colleagues of Judge Neilan, who presides over one of the largest district court areas in the country, said his bark is a lot worse than his bite. "He simply wants to frighten people when they come before him. He doesn't want to see them back again and again. And it seems to work," one local said. Judge Neilan is vehemently anti- drink driving and has been known to hand out jail sentences for such offences, penalties which were later overturned by higher courts on appeal. Recently he has handed out 800 fines, along with disqualification. The married teetotal judge is in his early 50s and has a young adult family. His brother, Brian, is the state solicitor for the Roscommon area.

    Judge Neilan is no stranger to making headlines. During the foot- and-mouth scare, he suggested pubs might close to prevent any spread of the disease. During a recent Travellers' dispute in Glenamaddy, he announced in court he had received threatening phone calls to his home, which puzzled him as his number is ex-directory. And when a taxi was hijacked in Castlepollard, he lambasted RTÉ for its coverage of the case. It was ironic that the same judge then found himself the subject of a lengthy discussion earlier this week on RTÉ radio's Joe Duffy show. Judge Neilan has been quoted as saying it was an outrage and an insult to suggest that there was anything insidious behind his comments in court. "I thought I was being helpful, now I am being maligned for that," he said.

    Green Party spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ciarán Cuffe, said his party is gravely concerned by comments made by Judge Neilan. "Immediate action needs to be taken in the form of anti-racism training and awareness raising for judges to ensure such comments are not aired by judges in the future," he said. The Green Party has written to Mr McDowell, requesting that anti-racism training be incorporated into equality legislation as a matter of urgency, and that a complaints board be established where people can report inappropriate behaviour by judges. In 1998 the Working Group on Judicial Ethics and Standards asked the previous minister to set up such a board. No action has been taken to date.
    ©Irish Examiner

    [another]JUDGE APOLOGISES FOR ‘IMPROPER' REMARK(Ireland)
    A circuit court judge yesterday apologised for an "improper" remark to a Nigerian woman who appeared before his court last month. Judge Harvey Kenny's apology came as another judge became embroiled in a race relations controversy. The judge was widely criticised after he told Burry Abebanjo: "I don't think any Nigerian is obeying the law of the land when it comes to driving." Ms Abebanjo was appealing penalties in two separate cases of driving without insurance. Judge Kenny, sitting at the Circuit Court in Castlebar yesterday, withdrew his remarks and apologised to Ms Abebanjo. He told her: "When you were before my court on January 14, I made what I now realise was an improper comment about Nigerians driving around without proper insurance, and saying that you were lucky in not going to jail. I wish, now, to withdraw the remark and apologise to you for the offence such a remark caused."

    At a district court hearing in Longford last week, Judge John Neilan warned two women from the Ivory Coast that shopping centres in the area would ban "coloured people" entering their stores if a spate of shoplifting in the county continued. The two women were appearing before the court on shoplifting charges. As the National Consultative Committee on Racism criticised Judge Neilan and demanded an apology, Longford Chamber of Commerce distanced local businesses from the judge's remarks. Dáil deputies and civil liberty groups yesterday demanded the setting up of a board to monitor the conduct of the Judiciary. Tánaiste Mary Harney assured Labour leader Pat Rabbitte that the Judicial Conduct and Ethics Bill would be published next year. Aisling Reidy, director of the Irish Council of Civil Liberties, yesterday criticised Judge Neilan for failing to issue an apology but commended Judge Kenny for taking appropriate action.
    ©Irish Examiner


    ANTI-IMPERIALISM OF FOOLS
    Antisemitism is enjoying a renaissance. In Britain, attacks on Jewish people or property have increased by 260% over a two-year period; in France, synagogues have been firebombed. The antisemitic upsurge is closely linked to events in the Middle East and opposition to the policies of Israel and the USA and in the main does not come from the traditional right. It has nothing to do with legitimate criticism of Israel's policies and must be distinguished from this. Sometimes the antisemitism masquerades as "anti-Zionism" and other times it is naked Jew-baiting. Anti-racists and anti-imperialists have to root it out argues Steve Silver

    "Anti-Zionism", antisemitism and Holocaust denial
    Shortly after the murderous terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the USA leaflets circulated outside some London mosques purporting to identify who was behind the attacks. According to the British-based Islamic fundamentalist leafleters, the attacks were carried out by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad. The proof of this was in the supposed fact that hundreds of Jews stayed away from work that day, after they had been tipped off that something untoward was going to happen. The claim is so absurd that it doesn't warrant a response. It is mentioned here because it is part of a barrage of antisemitic conspiracy theory literature that has been circulating in Britain via Islamic fundamentalist and other sources. In some ways this is unsurprising: after all the Middle East is the main source for the printing of "classic" antisemitic conspiracy works such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Henry Ford's The International Jew. In Britain some of these staple fascist texts find their way into Islamic bookshops, where they are often openly displayed and sold. With old antisemitic conspiracy theory material so widely available, it is no wonder that there are those who have absorbed this world view and apply it to modern-day events.

    A pamphlet produced by the Islamic Party of Britain shortly after 11 September 2001 claimed that what it described as the "New World Order, One World, or Globalisation" was in fact a Zionist plot developed by Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion. Apparently, Ben Gurion possessed prophetic powers. The pamphlet says that in 1962 he:
    "Spelt out his vision of the world in the late eighties with the cold war being a thing of the past, a democratisation of the Soviet Union, the predominance of Social Democratic governments in Western and Eastern Europe, and a World Alliance with an international police force at its disposal. All armies, he said would be abolished, and there would be no more wars; Jerusalem would be the seat of the supreme court of mankind to settle all controversies among the federated continents: The Zionist dream of world domination ..."

    Some of the worst examples of antisemitism have occurred on campus. At Manchester University in 2002 a leaflet put out in the name of the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) before a debate on boycotting Israeli goods was nakedly antisemitic. The leaflet supposedly quoted statements made in 1789 by Benjamin Franklin, who was one of the signatories of the US Declaration of Independence. The leaflet is titled "Prophecy of Benjamin Franklin in regard of the Jewish race", and among other things says:
    "For more than 1700 years they [the Jews] have lamented their sorrowful fate, namely, that they have been driven out of their motherland; but, gentleman, if the world should give them back today Palestine and their property, they would immediately find reasons for not returning there. Why? Because they are Vampires - they cannot live among themselves ..."

    If the quotation had been genuine, it would be bad enough to see it reprinted. In fact it is a hoary antisemitic forgery written by the US Nazi sympathiser William Dudley Pelley in Liberation in 1934. In 1942 Pelley was sentenced to 1 been exposed many times in Searchlight and which has links to nazi groups across the world. It would be charitable in the extreme to say that there may be an innocent explanation for this amazing fact, for the top of the page of the advertised link even states that it is a Holocaust denial site!

    Nazi-Zionists: topsy-turvy world
    Much more commonplace on the left than Holocaust denial is the comparison of Israel with Nazi Germany. Quite how offensive this is to most Jewish people seems lost on those who do it. Even if we were to put aside the offensive nature of the comparison, it has to be said that such a comparison is rarely used to describe other regimes, even those that have actually committed genocide. This version of "anti-Zionism" tends to portray Zionism as a Jewish version of Nazism. In this almost surreal scenario, the victims of Nazism have become the new "nazis". It shouldn't really need pointing out that whatever one thinks of Israel's policies and actions, and the human cost of the conflict, there is still massive legal opposition to those policies from Arab and Jew alike inside Israel - hardly something that was allowed in Nazi Germany. All manner of progressive forces are represented in the Knesset (parliament) from socialist-Zionist to communist and Muslim parties. Of course at the moment Israel is in the hands of the right wing and consequently is pursuing right-wing policies. This does not make it Nazi, or even fascist, though. Crucially, however appalled one might be by Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, it is not systematically exterminating them.

    If it isn't bad enough to find organisations and individuals that compare Israel to Nazi Germany, it is not uncommon to find those that go further and argue that Israel is actually worse than Nazi Germany. For example, at the Palestine solidarity demonstration in London on 18 May 2002, Leila Khaled, a leading figure in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), claimed that Zionism had "exceeded Nazism". Another "Nazi-Zionist" theme is the claim that some Zionists collaborated with the Nazis. However, many were brave resisters and fighters against fascism who were martyred in that struggle. Among their number is the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the socialist-Zionist Mordechai Anielewicz. Also there is the Hungarian born Hannah Senesh who moved to Palestine just before the Second World War and fought in an elite British parachute corps against the Nazis. Captured by fascists behind enemy lines in her native Hungary, she was brutally tortured and executed.

    Zionism, imperialism and the birth of Israel
    Zionism is neither a conspiracy nor the invention of imperialism, nor inherently racist. It came into existence as a response to antisemitism and such things as the pogroms, persecutions and ritual murder libels in Europe. Dr Theodor Herzl, the best known of the early Zionists, became a political Zionist as a result of the infamous antisemitic frame-up of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in France in 1894. However, the single most important factor that made Zionism popular among Jewish people was the Holocaust. Even those who did not see their own future, or even the future of the Jewish people, bound up in Palestine recognised that there must be a solution to the Jewish refugee problem created by the destruction of Europe's Jews. It was clear that the solution was not going to be found in Europe or the countries that closed their borders to large-scale Jewish immigration.

    The Zionist movement is a nationalist movement, and carries with that all that other nationalist movements do. It harbours in its ranks reactionaries who would do all in their power to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. Yet it also harbours a progressive left wing which wants nothing but peace in the Middle East. In Israel itself there exists a massive peace movement, opposed to the actions of the government and military, and which supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It is co Communism and Zionism have a long history of conflict with each other, which goes back to well before a state was proclaimed in the name of either ideology. Yet the Soviet Union supported the creation of the state of Israel, not because it had suddenly become Zionist, but because of the practical realities of the situation and, most importantly, because of the destruction of European Jewry and the subsequent refugee problem. At the United Nations in 1947 the Soviet representatives and others recounted how the Jews had suffered during the Second World War. Speaking on behalf of the Soviet Union, Andrei Gromyko said:
    "The aspirations of an important part of the Jewish people are bound up with the question of Palestine and the future structure of that country ... the aspiration of the Jews for the creation of a state of their own ... it would be unjust not to take this into account and to deny the right of the Jewish people to the realisation of such an aspiration."

    Gromyko went on to argue that there was a legitimate Jewish claim in the region: "if only because, after all, the Jewish people has been closely linked with Palestine for a considerable period of history". Echoing Lenin's description of how the Jews fared under Tsarism, Gromyko added, "that as a result of the war which was unleashed by Hitlerite Germany, the Jews, as a people, have suffered more than any other people". The State of Israel was formed as a result of a 1947 United Nations partition plan which was intended to create an Israeli state alongside a newly independent Palestinian state. Around the world the left celebrated Israel's birth. The invasion of Arab armies who believed that they could strangle the fledgling Jewish state, and the subsequent war, put paid to the creation of a Palestinian state at that time. Regardless of what has happened since then, it remains a fact that Israel was born in this way.

    "Anti-Zionist" antecedents: Stalinist and Arab nationalist anti-Semitism
    It would be absurd to argue that all opponents of Zionism, all anti-Zionists, are antisemitic. It would be equally absurd to tar all opponents of Israel's policies and actions as antisemitic. However, much of what passes as anti-Zionism and anti-Israel sentiment has nothing to do with legitimate debate with a nationalist ideology, or opposition to the actions of the Israeli government or military, but more to do with traditional antisemitic conspiracy theory. The idea that a cabal of Jewish people controls the world through political skulduggery has been a staple of antisemites since they propagandised against the French Revolution after 1789. However, it was in pre-revolutionary Russia at the turn of the twentieth century that the most infamous antisemitic Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of The Elders of Zion, was produced. It was used by counter-revolutionaries as a propaganda weapon against the Bolsheviks. The Protocols still circulates today and many other antisemitic tracts are based upon it.

    The Protocols was a standard German Nazi text. One might have thought that with the defeat of Nazi Germany, the idea of Jewish world conspiracy would be buried, especially in a country that itself suffered so much under fascism and helped give birth to the Jewish state. However, the Soviet honeymoon with Israel was a short-lived affair. In the Soviet Union and among reactionary Arab nationalists hostility towards Jews evolved into "anti-Zionism" as the main vehicle for the "Jewish conspiracy". In spite of the fact that under Lenin's leadership antisemitism was made a criminal offence, it was perpetuated in the Soviet Union in the Stalin era. At the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1956, Nikita Krushchev, the Soviet leader, revealed a long list of antisemitic crimes committed during the period of Stalin's rule, including: the purging of Jewish party leaders in other socialist countries; the general shutdown of Jewish cultural institutions in the Soviet Union after 1948; the murder in August 1952 of leading reactionary of Arab nationalists, they pushed this position on the international stage at the United Nations and elsewhere. In this new climate Kichko was rehabilitated and published further works such as Judaism and Zionism (Kiev 1968). As the Soviet Union departed from anything that could be remotely described as a Leninist analysis of the situation in the Middle East, many other Soviet writers who churned out material of a similar nature joined Kichko. It is echoes of these ideas that are current among some on the British left, even among those who would be horrified to be remotely associated with anything to do with "Stalinist" or nationalist antisemitism. It can only be assumed that those who claim that Israel is Nazi and that Zionism is racism have no knowledge of the ideas' antecedents.

    Destroying Israel
    During the Six Day War there was much talk of destroying Israel from reactionary Arab nationalists. Cuba's Fidel Castro was so shocked by the nature of Egypt's anti-Israel propaganda at the time that he spoke out against it. In an interview that was published in the New Statesman on 22 September 1967, he told the journalist K S Karol that he believed Egyptian phrasemongering showed a lack of revolutionary principles. "True revolutionaries never threaten a whole country with extermination," he said. "We have spoken out clearly against Israel's policy, but we don't deny her right to exist." However, there are some on the left today who would call themselves revolutionaries who believe that Israel should be destroyed. Hardly surprising, when they think that Israel is no different from Nazi Germany. Those who put forward this position should ask themselves what should happen to the Jewish people who live in Israel today if the country ceased to exist. And anti-racists should ask them to which other people, apart from the Jewish people, would they deny the right of nationhood?

    No anti-imperialism without anti-racism
    The penchant for US (and British) intervention in the affairs of sovereign states abroad is something that should be condemned and opposed. Those countries that do their utmost to defend their independence are fighting against imperialism. However, merely raising anti-imperialist slogans does not make the nationalist movements of those countries, or their leaders, necessarily progressive. As with Zionism, these nationalist movements - the Palestinians included - contain both progressive and reactionary camps. Just as it is necessary for the Israeli people to combat their own national chauvinists, annexationists and would-be colonialists, so it is important for others in the Middle East to combat their reactionaries. To say and do nothing against reactionaries in the anti-imperialist camp, because this could be seen to damage the fight against imperialism, is a serious error. History has taught us where that kind of politics leads. In Indonesia, hundreds of thousands of communists and others on the left were massacred while "anti-imperialist" slogans were raised. In Iraq, communists and other progressives were tortured while genocide was committed against the Kurds. In Iran the "anti-imperialist" Islamic fundamentalists butchered communists who had supported the national revolution.

    The idea of a world Jewish conspiracy, so popular with the Tsarist propagandists in their anti-Bolshevik propaganda at the turn of the last century, and which formed a central part of Nazi ideology during the 1930s and 1940s, is unfortunately alive and well in Britain today. It is primarily the preserve of Islamic fundamentalists, but to their shame virtually the entire left has remained silent on the issue, and some have actually recycled this nonsense. It seems that people's outrage at such things as Israel's actions in Jenin in April 2002 triggers an emotive response bordering on hysteria. The reflex action is often antisemitic and has nothing to do with socialism. It is as if some believe that a little antisemitism is justifiable when confronted with Israel's policies. ©Searchlight

    SOME 20,000 SKINHEADS ACTIVE IN RUSSIA
    There are about 20,000 skinheads across Russia and about 5,000 of them live in the second largest city of St. Petersburg, the Moscow Times reported Wednesday. Although most of the skinheads are active in big cities, their activities, however, are largely unorganized and disunited, the newspaper quoted Valery Komarov, an Interior Ministry official, assaying. The ministry believes that there are about 2,500 skinheads in Moscow headed by about 100 ringleaders, while the 5,000 skinheads in St. Petersburg belong to 70 different groups, Komarov said. Komarov, a high-ranking official in the ministry, said there was no single ringleader behind the skinhead movement. "The only organization that skinheads have is territorial -- they usually come from one neighborhood," Komarov said. "They alsodon't have any agenda other than carrying out aggressive actions." Although the number of media reports about racially motivated attacks has soared in recent months, only 16 skinheads were convicted last year, Komarov said, adding that altogether 31 caseswere investigated and sent to court last year. He said that in dealing with skinheads, police are focusing on identifying their leaders and holding "prophylactic talks" with them in an effort to find out the sources of their funding and whatever ties they might have with other skinhead groups.
    ©Xinhua News Agency

    CONTROVERSIAL SWEDISH ASYLUM PROPOSAL DISCUSSED
    The tone has hardened within the European asylum debate. As a result the European Commission is discussing a proposal from a Swedish expert to introduce secure and legal methods for refugees to reach Europe, reports the Swedish newspaper Dagens nyheter. The suggestion is that refugees should be able to apply for asylum directly at European Union representation offices and member state embassies around the world, in order to reduce the need for people smuggling in order to get access to the European Union. "It is about making Europe more accessible for people who really are in need," says Gregor Noll, the Swedish expert from Lund University, who is main exponent of the proposal.
    ©EUobserver

    ENLARGEMENT IS NOT YET INTEGRATION(eu)
    by Bruno Kaufmann

    By 1 May 2004 we may face a very different European Union. A Union with 25 member states, which has a population one fourth bigger than today's and whose area has grown by one third. The economic consequences are less dramatic: EU GDP will only grow by approximately 4 per cent, but the average per capita income will decrease by 16 per cent. Less predictable are the political and social consequences of enlarging the EU to the very heart of Europe.

    Decisive moment in history
    By enlarging the EU the European integration process reaches a decisive moment in its history - there will be no common source of legitimacy for it any more. All of the current 15 member states joined the club because of their bad historical experience: the main driving power of the founding six was World War II, the southern members - Spain, Portugal and Greece - had experienced right-wing dictatorships, the northern axis (from Ireland to Finland) joined out of pragmatic economic reasons. All these 15 states experienced the Cold War on the same side of the Iron Curtain and for all of them joining the EU has been seen as the lesser of two evils. By enlarging the Union in almost all directions this passive element will be further strengthened as accession to the EU by many Eastern European countries is seen as drawing the final line under the terrible time of communist dictatorship. This is the main reason why most people in most candidate states will vote yes in the upcoming referendums, even if the European Union in its current condition does not seem to be very inviting. We will see mainly pale and listless Yes-votes to Europe between March and September this year. At the same time, the traditional motors such as Franco-German cooperation, the initiative power of the Commission and the busy but opaque machinery of European legislation have definitely lost their power to integrate Europe from above. The last technocratic master-strokes were the introduction of the Euro and Enlargement. Now they are far too weak to establish a common EU foreign and security policy or to help a European Constitution to its feet. The new and bigger European Union does not need to expand the reach of integration further but to consolidate it. The new member states will not make this task easier, as their democratic experience is short and limited and their understanding of national interest narrower.

    Notion of a political union is very negative in the East
    For many people in the new member states the notion of a political union is very negative ("Soviet Union"). But as before, the EU integration process is to develop something positive out of many negative things. The innovation and development of the Convention model is such an example. It was born out of the frustrating experiences of inter-governmental conferences. The same is true for the constitutional debate, which is the consequence of the fruitless attempts to reform the European Treaties. The participation of representatives of all the candidate states (with the exemption of Switzerland, which has been a passive candidate since 1992) in the EU Convention and all the discussions about European constitution-making are encouraging signs - but they are only starting points for a process of consolidation. This process will take much longer than many EU politicians would like to see and to allow. And this process will have to intergrate the citizens in many more direct ways than today, if it is to succeed.

    Integration can not be delivered by the states alone
    The current Convention will not give us a European constitution, yet, but it can propose important moves towards a federal European constitution, which will be an agreement between states AND citizens. Thus, an enlarged European Union will not automatically be an integrated EU. EU integration in the 21st century can no longer be ©EUobserver

    ROMANI WOMEN INTERROGATED AND THREATENED FOLLOWING REPORT ABUSES IN SLOVAKIA'S HOSPITALS
    Law enforcement officials and medical personnel in hospitals are reportedly threatening and retaliating against Romani women in Slovakia, following the release of a new report that documents grave human rights violations in Slovakia's public hospitals. The report, released last week by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Poradna pre obcianske a ludské práva (Center for Civil and Human Rights), documents cases of forced and coerced sterilization of Romani women, along with verbal and physical abuse, racially discriminatory standards of care, misinformation in health matters and denial of patient access to medical records. "We are pleased that the Slovak government has recognized the need to address these illegal practices but we are now hearing disturbing reports of Romani women being threatened and abused in at least one of the settlements and the hospital that serves the settlement," said Christina Zampas, legal adviser at the Center for Reproductive Rights and an author of the report entitled "Body and Soul: Forced Sterilization and Other Assaults on Roma Reproductive Freedom in Slovakia."

    At least one settlement to date has reported that police have begun rounding up Romani women to interrogate them. They have also threatened that, if these women file legal complaints against health care personnel for forced sterilization, they will face three years in prison for bringing false charges. In addition, there have been several reports that health care personnel in the Krompachy hospital are verbally abusing pregnant Romani women because of the information in the report. Poradna and Romani organizations are actively monitoring the situation. "We are calling on the Slovak government to take immediate steps to stop this and to prevent any escalation and future intimidation or violence against the Romani community," said Barbora Bukovská, Executive Director of Poradna and an author of the report. "We urge the government to proceed with the investigation in a manner that respects the rights of victims, their families and communities, and recommend that the abuses be investigated through the transparent process set forth in the report," added Bukovská. The Slovak government's Office of Human Rights and Minorities has filed a criminal complaint with the General Prosecutor's office against the "unknown perpetrator" that is violating health standards. This has led to the launch of the police investigation into illegal sterilization practices. In addition, the Office of Human Rights and Minorities has filed a criminal complaint with the General Prosecutor's office against the authors of Body and Soul. Although the authors have not yet been charged, the Office's press release asserts that the complaint against the authors states two things:

    1. If the information in the report is found to be true, authors will be prosecuted for failure to inform law enforcement of criminal activities, and
    2. If the information is found to be false, authors will be prosecuted under section 199 of the Criminal Code for "spreading false rumors and creating panic in society."
    "Filing this complaint is an outrageous attempt to deflect attention from the government's failure to prevent and investigate allegations of forced sterilization and other reproductive rights violations against Romani women," said Katherine Hall-Martinez, Director of the International Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "It appears to be aimed at intimidating human rights defenders, as well as victims who spoke to our investigators," added Hall-Martinez.

    On January 30th, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Poradna presented the findings to the Health Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. Jan Marinus Weirsma, Member of the European Parliament, EP Rapporteur on Slovakia and member of the Human Rights Committee, publicly expressed concern about the finding of the report and urged the Slovak government to investigate the findings and to address the issue immediately. He is in Bratislava this week and will be discussing the findings of the report, amongst other issues, with government officials. As a futur of the patient.

    The Center for Reproductive Rights is a nonprofit, legal advocacy organization that promotes and defends the reproductive rights of women worldwide. Founded in 1992 (as the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy), the Center has used international human rights law to advance the reproductive freedom of women and has strengthened reproductive health laws and policies across the globe by working with more than 50 organizations in 44 nations including countries in Africa, Asia, East Central Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
    The Centre for Civil and Human Rights(Poradna pre obcianske a ludské práva) is a nonprofit organization engaged in advocacy and strategic litigation on discrimination against Roma in the Slovak Republic. The priorities of Poradna are to implement projects focusing on social and economic rights with special emphasis on the Romani minority in general and Romani women in particular.
    ©The Center for Reproductive Rights

    LET EUROPE BE EQUAL AND INCLUSIVE(eu)
    ENAR's second contribution to the Convention on the future of Europe

    It is with great interest that the European Network Against Racism, ENAR , has followed the works of the Convention on the future of Europe from its very beginning. ENAR does however fear that the current atmosphere of political and economic insecurity in Europe is highjacking to a great extent the debate on the future of Europe and narrowing it down to a short-term perspective. We therefore urge the Convention to take the following concerns in consideration and to promote a Europe of "inclusion" and of respect for the fundamental values of equality, fundamental rights and respect for diversity.

    Looking at the current proposals under discussion, looking at the final reports of the different working groups of the Convention and following in particular the debate going on in the Working Group for a Social Europe, we are more and more convinced that a certain number of issues are falling in between the mandates of the working groups and will therefore enjoy less debate although they have been and will continue to be crucial for a democratic construction of Europe.

    We believe that:

  • Equality should remain one of the main threads throughout the entire Constitution, since it is a fundamental right but also a value, an objective, a competence and a policy of Europe.

  • Racism and xenophobia, still today are a major obstacle for the full enjoyment of freedom, dignity, security and justice.

  • European citizenship, as a principle, should be based not only on nationality of the Member States but also on legal residence in order to guarantee that Europe will evolve in an inclusive and not an exclusive way in the future. Legal residents can already file a Petition to the Parliament, make a complaint to the Ombudsman, enjoy certain voting rights in a number of European Countries and there is an initiative at the European level to grant a "long-term resident" status to persons staying legally in a Member State's territory for a minimum stay of 5 years. This indicates a clear evolution in time towards a legal status as close as possible to the one enjoyed by European Citizens, as was agreed in Tampere.


  • We therefore urge the Convention:
  • to refer to equality as a value and incorporate equal treatment of people and elimination of inequalities amongst the objectives of the Union. Article 13 TEC should furthermore remain a strong competence of the Union and this should be reflected by the strategic place that is given to it in the structure of the Union's competences, namely in or as closed as possible to the 15 first articles of the Constitution.

  • to maintain the reference to the prevention and the combat of racism and xenophobia as one of the core paths to achieve an area of freedom, security and justice, as is currently stated in the current Article 29 TEU.

  • to rethink the principle of Citizenship in order for it to reflect and stimulate the current evolution and, with concern for the long-term perspective, to open the door towards an "inclusive" Europe by rewriting the current article 17 TEC in such a way to make a citizen of the Union " every person holding the nationality of a member state or residing with a legal status within a Member State".


  • Finally, we are clear that these points can only lead to real and concrete results if they are supported by democratic, efficient and transparent procedures and therefore urge the Convention to change the procedures concerning the 3 abovementioned items into co-decision and respecting qualified majority voting.
    ENAR Brussels,6th February 2003
    ©ENAR

    ASYLUM RIGHTS EVAPORATE(uk)
    Refugee targets break international law

    Ruud Lubbers, United Nation high commissioner for refugees, meets Tony Blair in Downing Street today to discuss much needed reforms to the international system. But before expanding on the UK's long-term plans (leaked to the Guardian last week) the prime minister has a more urgent task: clarifying the confusion which new short-term objectives, set out last Friday, have caused. Like several earlier policy initiatives by the prime minister, they emerged without warning during a television interview. Understandably, his assertion that the government seeks to reduce the numbers of asylum seekers by halve by September, has caused widespread concern among refugee agencies. It led to speculation in yesterday's papers that even the home secretary was suggesting privately that the promise was "undeliverable".

    Yet, as our home affairs editor noted, it may not be quite as untenable as it looks. Last year's asylum act, like the previous three in the last nine years, further eroded the rights which persecuted people used to have in seeking sanctuary. Thousands of refugees who delay lodging their claims on arrival in the UK now face withdrawal of food, shelter and clothing; a white list of "safe' countries, from which all applications are presumed to be "clearly unfounded", is being extended from 10 to 17; the French border has been more firmly secured. These new measures led to a large influx of people seeking to beat their implementation. October's numbers rose to a record 9,000. It would not be surprising, given the draconian nature of the new measures, that numbers have begun to drop dramatically. But it is not the numbers per se, but the prime minister's targets that are so offensive. It is as absurd to set out such predictions - even ignoring the pending Iraq war - as it would be to tell the courts that they must cut "not guilty" verdicts in halve. Worse still, it abolishes the right under international law to be assessed individually.

    In contrast, last week's long-term plan does have positive aspects. The UN refugee agency (UNHRC) already believes the current system is dysfunctional. Of the world's 12m refugees, over 90% remain in their home region, where UNHRC has just $50 a year to cover all an individual's needs. The 10% who reach developed states cost up to $15,000 in administration and support. Yet about half the applicants who reach the UK are rejected. The new UK plan proposes transferring much of the money used in the west to the UNHRC to establish special protected areas, where asylum seekers would be initially assessed. After six months, UNHRC would organise a managed flow of refugees to participating western states. This could create a fairer asylum procedure, based on the threat of persecution, rather than the ability to pay traffickers. It could spur on existing talks aimed at creating a common European approach, ending the current demeaning pass-the-parcel approach.

    There is a long list of caveats. How much of the £1bn spent by UK asylum administrators would be transferred? Would other western states join in? Would host nations welcome protected areas? Beyond this there are several bad ideas: rejecting individuals who reach the west under their own steam (a founding Geneva convention principle); and a list of interventions to reduce refugee flows that begin with the acceptable (more support) but end with the unacceptable (military interventions). Worst of all, the water has been muddied by Mr Blair's TV interview, which suggests there is only one central UK goal: getting the numbers down at all costs.
    ©The Guardian

    TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS 'IS INHUMANE'(uk)
    New rules leave refugees cold, hungry and scared, court told

    A high court judge was told yesterday that rules designed to halve the number of asylum claims were leaving hundreds of asylum seekers so destitute that they could not pursue their cases. Keir Starmer QC told Mr Justice Collins that many had to sleep rough on the streets, and were so "cold, hungry, scared and sick" that in some cases they were mentally distressed. "It is inhumane to subject someone to that sort of destitution. There is no way they can prosecute their claims," said Mr Starmer, who was instructed by the Refugee Legal Centre. He disclosed that a draft Home Office leaflet recommended that asylum seekers reduced to living in telephone boxes or car parks should register with their nearest post office to receive official letters about their case. Soon after the two-day test case began yesterday, Tony Blair met Ruud Lubbers, the UN high commissioner for refugees, to discuss creating "safe havens" for asylum seekers near their home countries which would deny most of them access to Britain. After the meeting, the home secretary, David Blunkett, said they had talked of the new challenges for developed countries posed by those who used the asylum system as a route to the west. "I greatly welcome the commissioner's commitment to working to ensure that the 1951 convention, the legal basis for asylum in Europe, is relevant to the changing situation and the needs of refugees today," he said.

    In the high court, Mr Justice Collins said that the judicial review hearing of six test cases that began yesterday was being dealt with as a matter of extreme urgency, as 150 further cases had been lodged at the high court since the rules came in on January 8. In an unusual move the judge said he would deliver his ruling next Wednesday and had already arranged for the court of appeal to consider the case if necessary on March 3. The immigration minister, Beverley Hughes, yesterday defended the denial of access to benefits for those who make "late claims" for asylum, saying it was not unreasonable for those genuinely fleeing persecution to claim as soon as practicableon arrival in Britain. "We will vigorously defend these judicial reviews, which challenge laws passed by parliament that are part of a major reform of our asylum process," she said.

    The test case under article three of the European convention on human rights covers six asylum seekers fleeing regimes around the world including Iraq, Angola, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Iran. None has had a claim for asylum determined; one had spent the night in a telephone box and a tunnel and others had been forced to sleep rough. The court earlier granted injunctions providing them with emergency shelter and food during the hearing. Mr Starmer said they were allowed no funds, no accommodation and no food, forbidden to seek work, denied access to benefits, were without family or friends, and had no control over when their asylum claim would be determined. "One is not looking at the ordinary healthy barrister and how they might survive on the streets, but a group which by definition is vulnerable," Mr Starmer said.
    ©The Guardian

    'ASYLUM RULES LEFT ME HOMELESS'(uk)
    As new laws which limit the time asylum seekers have to claim state benefits are challenged in the High Court, BBC News speaks to one of those affected. The 21-year-old Iranian, who called himself 'Arash' to protect his family's identity, was shocked by his treatment in the UK.

    After 10 days travelling across Europe in the back of a lorry Arash arrived in England last week. He said that he applied for asylum soon after entering the UK, but has since been sleeping rough and left without assistance. "When we arrived actually we applied for asylum in a police station, but they told us we had to go to a central office - 'from there you can apply for asylum and they will give you everything'," Arash explained. "When I arrived there I applied for asylum and had a paper from police that I went to police station and asked for asylum. "But they didn't accept that paper either." Arash said that he was told the law had changed on 8 January and that he was not entitled to accommodation or money for food. "They just asked us to leave their office," he said. "We didn't really know what to do, we couldn't go anywhere, we couldn't get any benefit, we couldn't get any shelter. "So, we were homeless and we slept rough."

    'Leave the building'
    Arash said that he does not know what will happen to him in the weeks and months to come and that he was still sleeping rough. He was disappointed by the lack of support and said that it was not what he expected when he left Iran. "We still don't know what will happen to us and we hope something will be done for us," he said. "I was expecting that the British Government would give me accommodation, somewhere to live, while I am applying for my asylum and while I am waiting for the decision. "I didn't think they were going to tell me to leave the building and sleep in the street."
    ©BBC News

    ANTI-SEMITISM A HIDDEN PART OF SLOVAK LIFE
    Survey shows nearly 20 per cent of Slovaks would not want Jews as neighbours

    The outrage that met the news that 35 Jewish graves had been desecrated in the northwestern Slovak town of Bánovce nad Bebravou in late January may have given the impression that anti-Semitism in Slovakia is limited to neo-Nazis and other fringe groups. However, behind the closed doors of Slovak homes and in the corners of pubs and coffee houses, there is evidence that strong anti-Jewish sentiment runs deep in this society. "[Anti-Semitism] is quite widespread, although it doesn't show on the surface that much. It is currently in a latent phase," said Michal Kovác, 22, a management student from Bratislava. This prejudice is directed at Slovakia's tiny Jewish community, now a fraction of the size it was before the holocaust. "We can only estimate, but before the second world war there were around 130,000 Jews in Slovakia, now there are roughly 3,000. The largest communities are in Bratislava and Koaice," said Jaroslav Franek, spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Slovakia, adding that in Bratislava there are as many as 1,500 Jewish people. However, in the most recent census, conducted in May 2001, only 218 Slovaks declared their ethnicity to be Jewish. This apparent reluctance to stand up and be counted as a Jew might have something to do with the stigma the ethnic label still carries in Slovakia.

    A survey conducted by the Markant agency released in January 2001 shows that 37 per cent of respondents would disapprove if their daughter decided to marry a Jewish person. When asked how they would react if a Jew decided to move into their neighbourhood, 19 per cent of those questioned said they would be against it. In Bratislava, the figure was 7 per cent higher than the national average. Observers identify several reasons for the persistence of anti-Semitic feeling in Slovakia, of which longstanding religious differences are often cited as the most significant. "[Anti-Semitism] is based on a very strong tradition, greatly influenced by Christianity," said Franek. "There is also jealousy, both intellectual and material, and in the case of Slovaks it is also a matter of ignorance." That "jealousy" can be seen in a recent article in the Slovak neo-Nazi magazine Edelweiss that states: "No one in today's world has greater power than the manipulators of public opinion in America have at their disposal. These dozen people (and we know very well who they are) rule the American mass media with greater power than any other people in history." The belief that as an ethnic group Jews have a disproportionate amount of influence in decision making is prevalent throughout Slovak society.

    A survey conducted by the Bratislava-based Focus agency for the American Jewish Committee in September 1999 found that 53 per cent of Slovaks believe that the influence of Jews on global events is "too great". However, only 26 per cent felt the same about the impact of Jews in Slovakia. Prejudice is also apparent in the everyday language of regular Slovaks. "Anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in all European languages, including Slovak. Expressions such as 'greedy as a Jew' are very common and I must say, even I could make the mistake of saying 'unchristian interest rates' if I was not careful," said Franek. While many Western countries have rid their vernacular of such racist phrases, political correctness has yet to arrive in Slovakia. "I hear anti-Semitic statements 20 to 30 times a day," said Kovác. However, the illicit nature of Slovak anti-Semitism means that Jews seldom hear these comments. According to Franek, people tend to watch their language when they know they are with Jewish people. "When Slovaks find out that a person is Jewish, they change completely. Suddenly they say things like, 'Well, even Jesus was a Jew,' and they even offer that person coffee - they become almost friendly. I mu solution should focus not only on the Jews but on other groups as well. For example, the manner in which the Roma are talked about in the media is not good. Education may help in this respect," he said.
    ©The Slovak Spectator

    ZUNDEL ARRESTED ON IMMIGRATION CHARGE(usa)
    Holocaust denier left Canada after he was ordered to shut down his Web site

    Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was taken into U.S. custody by law-enforcement officials for skipping an immigration hearing, his wife says. Ingrid Rimland, wife of the high-profile revisionist, said her husband was arrested Wednesday when Immigration and Naturalization Service officials came to their house in Sevierville, Tennessee. "I have sad news to report," Ms. Rimland wrote Thursday in an e-mail to Zundel supporters. "Ernst Zundel was arrested (Wednesday), allegedly on an immigration violations (sic) matter. In a nutshell, he was told that he had missed showing up at a scheduled immigration hearing in May of 2001." In 1997, the German-born Mr. Zundel, who entered Canada in 1958, was brought before the Canadian Human Rights Commission over material on his Web site, including a pamphlet denying the Holocaust titled Did Six Million Really Die? The legal battle ended in January 2002 when a Canadian Human Rights Commission tribunal forced Mr. Zundel to shut down the site, saying it vilified Jewish people as "liars, cheats, criminals and thugs." Mr. Zundel left his Toronto home and applied for permanent residency status in the U.S. in the summer of 2000, his wife said.

    Officials with the Blount County, Tennessee, sheriff's department yesterday confirmed Mr. Zundel has been in their jail since his arrest Feb. 5. "We're housing him for the INS," said spokeswoman Marion O'briant. An INS spokeswoman in New Orleans, Sarah Mouw, said privacy laws prevented her from discussing Mr. Zundel's case in depth. "He's in our custody because he's not in a legal immigration status," she said. Ms. Mouw added that "if appropriate, he will go before an immigration judge." Ms. Rimland's e-mailed account of her husband's arrest, which left her "shaking," goes into great detail. "Shortly after 11 a.m. the door bell rang," she wrote. "I remember the time because I am on a diet and I knew I could have a snack at 11 a.m." "Two minutes or so later, Ernst came into my office and said, as I remember it. 'Guess what. The INS guys are here because I am supposed to have missed a hearing'." She said five officers, one of whom was in uniform, handed Mr. Zundel a document to sign. "He read it very carefully, then told them that he never received a request for a hearing. He said to me: 'Remember what I told you? That's what they were going to do. Use a bureaucratic excuse to get me." Ms. Rimland said a friend of the couple, a lawyer, "thought the arrest probably had to do with 'war fever' -- that immigration was rounding up people and Ernst's enemies took advantage of the situation and put on pressure in the right places."

    She ended the e-mail, which bears the motto "Where Truth is Destiny," by telling supporters she had spoken with Mr. Zundel twice. "How do I feel?" she writes. "I feel like I felt as a child when my father was taken away by Soviet goons, under a similar flimsy pretense and without any prior notification. My readers know that I never saw my father again." Reached at her home yesterday, Ms. Rimland said: "You know, Ernst has had a very interesting life, let's put it that way, and this is nothing new to him. He has been harassed for, what, 20-30 years?"
    ©The Ottawa Citizen

    HOLOCAUST REVISIONIST TO BE SENT BACK TO GERMANY
    The Holocaust revisionist who was arrested at his Wears Valley home last week will be deported to his native Germany as soon as possible, an Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman said Monday. Ernst Zundel, 63, of Hatcher Mountain Road will remain in the Blount County jail until he is deported, said Temple Black of the INS in New Orleans. Black said no hearing is necessary. Zundel came into the United States under the visa waiver program and has outstayed his term, he said. Zundel had lived in Canada for 38 years. There he published books and other materials denying the Holocaust ever took place and supporting Hitler's views. He has been called "Canada's most infamous Holocaust revisionist." He is not a citizen of Canada. He tried to become one, but his bid was finally rejected Dec. 14, 2000.

    By that time he had moved to Wears Valley with his third wife, Ingrid Rimland Zundel. In January 2002 the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that his Web site was unlawful because it contains hate messages against Jews. Temple said the INS is awaiting documents from Germany before Zundel can be deported; they could take two days or a week to arrive, he said. He said a lawyer could intervene on Zundel's behalf. That is what Ingrid Zundel is trying to arrange. "We have a lawyer in Memphis," she said in a phone interview, but her husband needs an immigration lawyer closer to home. So far she has failed to find one. "It's very frustrating," she said. Denying the Holocaust took place is a crime in Germany punishable by a jail sentence of up to five years, Ingrid Zundel said. Her husband left Germany for Canada when he was 19.

    She said they came to the area because they have a friend near Asheville. They were looking for "a nice, quiet, decent place" where the media would leave them alone. They fell in love with the house, and Wears Valley is "so beautiful," she said. It reminds Ernst Zundel of the Black Forest where he grew up. "We love it here," she said. "We are here legally... We are not hiding. We are not doing anything wrong," she said. Her husband has a work permit, a Social Security number and driver's license; "we just happen to be politically incorrect," she said. Now he is in jail "with criminals and crazies," he said. "It is beyond belief." "...We are decent people. We don't need to be taken away in handcuffs like wetbacks coming across the border," she said. Her husband "is one of the sweetest people on earth but he has strong political views." Since Zundel's arrest Wednesday, "it seems like the entire world wants to know what happened," she said. Despite "very nasty" stories in the media, "I have not received a single harassment call in this community. This is a peaceful, wonderful community." She said she will talk to local media because "I want to be treated decently. I have to live in this town."
    ©The Oakridger

    NEW RULES AIM TO STAMP OUT BULLYING, RACISM AND SEXISM(uk)
    "Punishment" is no longer an appropriate word in Britain's armed forces and careful consideration must be given to whether condoms should be made available to recruits, senior officers said yesterday after a radical and comprehensive overhaul of the training system. A package of reforms containing 13 major and 57 minor recommendations is intended to change the culture of the services and attempt to stamp out bullying, racism and sexism. Lieutenant-General Anthony Palmer, the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Personnel), said the measures were also designed to cut the drop-out rate among new recruits. "They come to us with little deference or respect. If a corporal shouts at them, they say 'Stuff you. I'm on my way.' They get on the mobile and Mum picks them up," he said.

    Under the new rules recruits to the forces are to be guaranteed access to confidential welfare. A training "covenant" setting out the obligations of the training system will be introduced. The review was commissioned last October by the Armed Forces minister, Adam Ingram, who insisted it was not directly linked to the deaths of four young soldiers at the Deepcut barracks in Surrey, which are currently the subject of police investigation. The report states: "The death of a son or daughter is often the most decisive moment of parents' lives and in the past parents have had, in some instances, to deal with a monolithic, impersonal bureaucracy that has proved insensitive and clumsy." Senior officers said they accepted that the shake-up reflected the changing attitudes of young people joining the forces. "I don't believe that we are turning out namby- pambies," said the Vice-Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Anthony Bagnall. "Youngsters of today are different. They are less committed to a long-term career, they are more materialistic, better educated and more questioning, and therefore they need a different type of leadership." While discipline was essential, he said that did not mean "punishment". He added "In my view 'punishment' is not a word that is appropriate in today's Armed Forces."

    The report found there was "inconsistency and confusion" over the "no touching" rule between the sexes while on duty. Sir Anthony said: "When you put young, red-blooded boys and girls together they tend to form relationships. If recruit A goes to location A and finds there are condoms available, and recruit B goes to location B and discovers there are not condom machines, we have to ask, what is the best practice?" The review expressed concern that in some establishments arbitrary penalties – euphemistically termed "additional incentive training" – such as extra physical exercises were imposed by instructors without the sanction of the higher chain of command. It also warned against the over-reliance of officers on their NCOs – sergeants and corporals – without the necessary supervisory checks and safeguards being in place.
    © Independent Digital

    YAHOO BOSS CLEARED OVER NAZI SALES(France)
    The former head of internet giant Yahoo has been cleared of illegally selling Nazi memorabilia on the website. American Timothy Koogle was accused in France of two offences over the sale of Nazi items on Yahoo's US internet auction site. A previous court battle had already resulted in Yahoo being ordered to prevent French internet users from accessing its US auction site, so Nazi memorabilia could not be purchased online from France. Yahoo later stopped selling the material.

    'Glorifying'
    The separate case against Mr Koogle was brought by the Association of Auschwitz Deportees, which was seeking to have him found personally liable. He was accused of two offences - justifying a crime against humanity and "exhibiting a uniform, insignia or emblem of a person guilty of crimes against humanity". The judges ruled that neither charge against Mr Koogle had been proved. They said that justifying war crimes meant "glorifying, praising, or at least presenting the crimes in question favourably," which Yahoo had not done.

    Long battle
    Mr Koogle, who did not appear in the Paris court in person, had faced a theoretical maximum fine of 47,500 euros ($50,000) and five years' imprisonment. However, prosecutor David Peyron had asked that Mr Koogle, head of Yahoo from 1995 to 2001, should receive no punishment even if convicted. The battle over Yahoo's auction site began in France in 2000, when groups including France's Union of Jewish Students sued it. They were angry that items including flags emblazoned with swastikas could be bought, despite a French law barring the display or sale of racist material.
    ©BBC News

    HUNGARIAN PARTY PROPOSES EU MINORITIES COMMITTEE
    Joszef Szájer, a member of the Hungarian opposition party (FIDESZ), has suggested creating an advisory and consultative body to deal with the minorities' problems in Europe. The body should be established within the EU in order to deal with the cultural, educational, and economic problems of minorities. The politician is representing Hungary into the Convention for the future of Europe and he is going to submit this idea to his European colleagues. According to Mr Szájer, the accession of the Central and Eastern European regions to the European Union will bring several national and ethnic minority communities into the organisation, including the Roma who are struggling with unique and serious problems. He believes that neither the current institutional system of the EU nor the Charter of Fundamental Rights handles these issues adequately.

    The European Parliament, says the Hungarian MP, due to its size, would not really be suited to providing effective representation of the numerous European minorities. It would need a completely separate body. The minorities committee would be within the European Parliament but it would not be authorised to make any decisions. It would oversee all issues affecting national or ethnic minorities. These could include educational issues, language preservation and cultural questions, but also cross-border economic co-operation. Hungary is well known in Central and Eastern Europe for having struggled for Hungarian minorities abroad. Currently there are several million Hungarians living in Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. For those, the Hungarian Parliament passed a special protection law called the "benefit law", drafted by FIDESZ during the previous cabinet. The text was highly criticised by Brussels because it interferes with the domestic affairs of the neighbouring countries (the hosts of the Hungarian minority) and therefore is not in line with EU legislation.
    ©EUobserver

    OUTRAGE AS FAR-RIGHT PARTY TARGETS SCHOOL(uk)
    Children as young as 11 have been targeted at the gates of their Sheffield school by canvassers from the far-right British National Party. Pupils at Chaucer School in Parson Cross were handed leaflets and asked to design a poster which illustrated that "white people are also the victims of racism". In return for taking part in the competition, youngsters were given the chance to win a Gameboy or a record token. The revelation comes as the BNP announced it was about to launch a major campaign in South Yorkshire to win council seats. Chairman Nick Griffin said the party had already lined up candidates to stand in the council elections in Barnsley and in Doncaster in May. And he claimed the move was in response to "unprecedented demand" from the people of South Yorkshire.

    Sheffield Council leader Jan Wilson condemned the BNP's targeting of schoolchildren as "disgusting and deplorable". "I am very sorry to hear that people feel the BNP would be welcome in Sheffield," she said. Britain's first Muslim peer, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, said he was confident South Yorkshire people would reject the BNP, but blamed the war on terror for creating a climate in which the party was able to prey on people's worst fears. And councillor Steven Wilson, whose Southey Green ward includes many families whose children attend Chaucer School, said: "I think the people of Sheffield have got more sense than to support the BNP. I think the BNP will be barking up the wrong tree."

    Southey Green councillor Tony Damms said he heard the BNP had been active outside Chaucer School on Wordsworth Avenue from headmaster Steven Robinson. Coun Damms said: "I am not happy about the BNP handing out leaflets outside the school. What they say is offensive and distasteful. "I heard about it from the headteacher and we are very concerned about it." But the BNP's chairman said South Yorkshire was the Party's "last remaining big target", and claimed at least one telephone query a day to the party comes from Sheffield. "We are expecting a good response," said Mr Griffin.
    ©Sheffield Today

    ANALYSIS UNWATCH OF MEETING WORKING GROUP IMPLEMENTATION WCAR
    The UN's "Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action" released a draft report on February 6. This Working Group, open to all states but boycotted by the US, Canada, Australia and Israel, meets for two weeks each year to discuss the application of the Durban documents.

    Analysis:
    The discredited World Conference against Racism ended on September 8, 2001, but the Durban process continues. Predictably, the politicization that plagued the Conference persists as well. As with the Durban Conference, many African and Latin American countries came to the Working Group meeting to discuss racism, gender discrimination, education, indigenous peoples, and other pertinent and pressing concerns. Once again, the meeting was derailed by Arab and Islamic nations that forced the Middle East conflict into the recommendations of the Working Group. The problems were not of the same magnitude as occurred during the Durban Conference preparations. There were no proposals to compare Zionism with racism, to trivialize the Holocaust, or to pervert the definition of anti-Semitism. Yet, the discussions and the priorities expressed in the draft recommendations demonstrate that the Working Group has also succumbed to the pressure of the Arab and Islamic bloc.

    In the course of the negotiations to produce general recommendations to states and international agencies, many issues were deleted from a proposed list of "priority areas": gender dimensions of racial discrimination, migrants and refugees, indigenous peoples, discrimination against children, contemporary forms of racism, and discrimination against Roma and Gypsies. By contrast, Egypt suggested a paragraph on the Middle East be added: "The Working Group reaffirms and emphasizes the importance of the effective implementation and follow-up to all paragraphs of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action concerning the situation in the Middle East."

    Norway spoke against its inclusion, citing the difficulties that discussions about the Middle East had caused during the Durban Conference. And then the attack began. Pakistan said the paragraph had "great value to us and we attach utmost importance to it." Syria threatened to leave the meeting unless the paragraph was discussed immediately. Algeria questioned why there were no references to "Palestine". Jordan said the paragraph in question was "part and parcel of the Durban declaration." Egypt pointed out that the paragraph was "really moderate" compared to the "very, very serious and tragic situation in the Middle East." Algeria took the floor again to agree. Saudi Arabia praised Egypt for its moderation.

    South Africa then suggested that two words be added: "The Working Group reaffirms … all paragraphs … including those concerning the situation in the Middle East." Faced with such pressure from the Arab bloc, Norway grasped the opportunity to back down and to agree to the South African fig leaf. Given the pervasive expressions of anti-Semitism and discrimination against women in the Arab world, their disruption of a serious discussion about racism is not surprising. Less understandable is the lack of resolve by the African and Latin American states to put an end to the political games played at their expense.
    ©UN Watch

    CAN EUROPE BLOCK RACIST WEB SITES FROM ITS BORDERS?
    By Anita Ramasastry, FindLaw Columnist, Special to CNN.com

    Based on a treaty that went into effect in January, Europe is attempting to shut out racist and xenophobic "hate" Web sites. Meanwhile, a new contact network "operating round the clock and seven days a week," is being set up to provide European police forces with immediate assistance with their investigations. The result of Europe's actions, however, may not be to shut down such sites. Instead, the United States may become a haven for hatemongers' sites, due to the strength of our First Amendment. The members of the Council of Europe (COE) are signatories to the 2001 Convention on Cybercrime -- which was conceived to deal with Internet crime such as virus attacks and Web site hacking. Just last week, 12 out of 44 of the COE's member States signed an additional protocol to the Convention that has a very different purpose. The new protocol is motivated by the COE's desire to harmonize members' domestic laws and bring together Europe in a cohesive fight against racism and xenophobia on the Internet. The COE also wants to improve international, or at least regional, cooperation with respect to the investigation and prosecution of cyberspace hate speech.

    The Council argued, in its report on the new protocol, that it is a necessary response to the fact that "the emergence of international communication networks like the Internet provide certain persons with modern and powerful means to support racism and xenophobia and enables them to disseminate easily and widely expressions containing such ideas." The original COE Cybercrime treaty was also signed by a number of non-COE states: the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Africa. These states can choose to sign on to the protocol too, if they want. But the United States, for one, is highly unlikely to do so -- especially since the protocol, which is both content-based and vague, conflicts with the First Amendment, and would, if enforced, chill political speech.

    The specifics of the protocol
    The protocol broadens the treaty's scope to cover offenses relating to distribution of racist or xenophobic propaganda via computer. According to a COE statement, it will "eliminate racist Web sites from the Internet and define and criminalize hate-speech on computer networks." What counts as "racist" or "xenophobic" speech? The protocol reaches "any written material, any image or any other representation of ideas or theories, which advocates, promotes or incites hatred, discrimination or violence, against any individual or group of individuals, based on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin, as well as religion if used as pretext for any of these factors." It also requires signatory states to enact domestic laws, if they have not already done so, criminalizing intentionally distributing, or "making available" via computer such material -- or, in addition, material which denies, minimizes, approves of or justifies crimes genocide or crimes against humanity. Reading such material, however, will not be criminalized, and the racist or xenophobic character of the material, not just the distribution or availability, must be intentional to count as a crime. That means Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do not commit a crime if they merely serve as an unwitting conduit or host for extremist material. What counts as "distributing" or "making available"? Even linking to banned material may be criminal. And it is clear that "[e]xchanging racist and xenophobic material in chat rooms, [or] posting similar messages in newsgroups or discussion fora" would count. Strikingly, under the protocol, even password-protected "private" sites may be criminal if the general public, or even a general class of persons, can access them. Truly private communications -- such as one-to-one e-mails -- however, are exempt from the protocol.

    The Yahoo! case, and why the protocol may raise the same issue
    From the hate sites' perspective, it makes sense for them to move. U.S. court decisions have strongly supported the First Amendment in cyberspace, even when the speech is hateful -- and have suggested that the U.S. has no duty to enforce contrary European law. Last year, for instance, a U.S. federal district court judge ruled that Yahoo did not have to block French citizens' access to online sales of Nazi memorabilia, which are illegal in France. (In France, such sales violate a criminal statute outlawing the exhibition of Nazi propaganda and artifacts for sale.) The case arose because Yahoo!'s U.S. homepage included an auction site that, in turn, included Nazi and Third Reich-related materials. French citizens could access the materials directly through the U.S. site, or through a link on the French Yahoo! site. As a result, a French court concluded that Yahoo! was guilty of breaking the French law. The French court accordingly issued an order requiring Yahoo! to take measures to block French citizen's access to the U.S. site, with a penalty of 100,000 Euros for each day of non-compliance with the order. Yahoo! partially complied, but felt that it did not have the necessarily technology to fully comply. Accordingly, it sued in a California federal district court, seeking a declaratory judgment against the enforcement of the French court order on the ground that enforcement would violate the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. The court agreed. (An appeal is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.) This principle established in the Yahoo! case may be put to the test again if European authorities seek to apply the new protocol extraterritorially, to sites based in the U.S. that are accessible in Europe. For example, what happens when French of German law enforcement asks U.S. police officers for information about extremists running a hate site in the U.S.? The COE itself clearly believes that its protocol applies extraterritorially. The protocol expressly makes cross-border communications of racist or xenophobic material by foreign Web sites illegal. And the COE seems to mean what it says.

    For instance, Ivar Tallo, an Estonian member of the COE Assembly, expressed his belief that the protocol would, and should, reach a French racist organization that, taking advantage of the First Amendment, had established a U.S. Web site even though it meant to influence French, not a U.S., audience. If the protocol were in place, Tallo commented, a racist organization "would not be able to hide behind American laws protecting freedom of speech." It may be up to U.S. courts to decide if Tallo is right -- or if the Yahoo! judge, who thought American free speech law ought to apply in America, and European law in Europe, is correct. Or, alternatively, it may not be up to U.S. courts at all. Direct blocking by European countries of communications from U.S. sites thought to violate the protocol is also a possibility. Spain, for in Holocaust, and a U.K. law outlawing publication of material likely to incite racial hatred. The depth of the contrast between U.S. and European law can be illustrated by the case of Gerhard Lauck. Lauck publishes Nazi newspapers and a Nazi Web site from Nebraska with impunity. The site is legal in the U.S., but it is illegal in Germany, which has laws against Nazi propaganda that apply to any Web site Germans can access, wherever it is located. (Jurisdiction over even those sites outside Germany was upheld in a December 2000 German case.) While the U.S. may be horrified to become a haven for such cyberhatemongers as Lauck, it can at least be proud of being a haven for free speech at the same time.

    Anita Ramasastry, a FindLaw columnist, is an assistant professor of law at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and the associate director of the Shidler Center for Law, Commerce & Technology.
    ©Cable News Network

    JUDGES: CONSIDER RACISM IN SENTENCES(Canada)
    Rulings may take account of 'systemic racism'

    Ontario's highest court has opened the door to more lenient treatment for young black offenders by ruling that judges may consider systemic racism when they hand down sentences for less serious crimes. The Ontario Court of Appeal decision, handed down on Monday, means that African Canadians who are convicted of crimes may receive considerations similar to those now afforded aboriginal offenders, legal experts say. "It's the first time any court has recognized that the same systemic factors that face aboriginals, such as overrepresentation (in the criminal justice system) and systemic racism, are faced by African Canadians and that's relevant to sentencing," lawyer and Osgoode Hall law professor David Tanovich said yesterday. In the unanimous Ontario Court of Appeal decision, Mr. Justice Marc Rosenberg writes that "systemic racism and the background factors faced by black youths in Toronto are important matters and in another case I believe that they could affect the sentence." Rosenberg's decision quotes at length from reports filed in the court case that outline racism in education, society and the justice system (including the 1995 Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System). But the court denied the appeal on these grounds in the case of Quinn Borde, saying his "crimes are so serious that the systemic and background factors could not affect the length of the sentence."

    Tanovich launched the appeal on behalf of Borde, an 18-year-old Regent Park resident who was convicted of various weapons offences, including an incident where he pistol-whipped another man, sending him to hospital for stitches to close the wounds on his face. Borde was sentenced to seven years and nine months by the original trial judge, Superior Court Justice Lloyd Brennan. Brennan said in the original trial that the harsh sentence would send a "signal to other young men in this city (that) violent assaults, especially with guns, will result in serious penalties." Brennan added that the sentence would "reflect again the court's determination to do what we can to deliver the message: No more guns." Tanovich argued in his appeal that background factors facing the African Canadian community should be addressed since the trial judge said the sentence would serve as a deterrence to the "community" that the use of guns is not tolerated. Rosenberg, writing for Madam Justice Karen Weiler and Associate Chief Justice Dennis O'Connor, ruled that, while this argument could be considered in other criminal cases involving African Canadian offenders, Borde's offences involved "great violence and (he) used a loaded handgun on two separate occasions." With convictions for such serious offences, said the ruling, "systemic and background factors" cannot reduce the length of sentence. Borde's sentence was reduced by one year, however, on the grounds that the trial judge did not take into account his young age and the fact the sentence was his first handed down in adult court.

    It was a 1999 Supreme Court decision that laid out the aboriginal sentencing guidelines that encourage judges to seek remedial sentences in the community or participation in rehabilitative programs, rather than a jail term. Under the Criminal Code, the court noted, it's mandatory for judges to pay special attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders, a requirement that is part of an attempt to address the overrepresentation of aboriginal offenders in Canada's prisons. Marie Chen of Toronto's African Canadian Legal Clinic said the overrepresentation of black offenders in the justice system is more profound than that affecting the aboriginal community and applauded the weight Rosenberg gave recent studies showing systemic racism in the city and province. But she said the ruling is just a first step, and that to offer more lenient or ©The Toronto Star

    RUSSIA MOVES TO CONTROL IMMIGRATION
    Russia has begun to issue migration cards to foreigners entering the country in order to curb the number of illegal immigrants. Reports say that it estimates there are up to 3.5 million foreigners living in the country illegally, most of them from former Soviet republics and developing countries. Russian officials say they account for 40% of all crime, and cost the country billions of dollars in unpaid taxes and fraud. They believe the new card will establish an accurate system of immigration control and allow them to regulate the labour market. Russia's population is declining and it needs an influx of workers from abroad.

    'Toughest measures'
    Foreigners who are already in Russia have 90 days to obtain their cards from local police. The documents do not entitle holders to any benefits and are not substitutes for ID cards. They consist of two parts, one of which will be kept by the immigration authorities. Holders are expected to keep the other part with them at all times. Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov went personally to the southern Belgorod Region to hand out the new cards. "What is significant for us is that, starting today, we can keep a record of all foreign citizens arriving in Russia, we will know the purpose of their visit and the expected time of departure," he said. "If a foreign citizen does not have the counterfoil of the migration card proving their entry into Russia, they could be subject to the toughest measures, even deportation," Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

    Advice
    Belgorod Region, which borders on Ukraine, is one of the busiest frontier zones in Europe, crossed by about 15 million people a year. The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov in Moscow says there is a general belief that the cards are only meant for nationals of former Soviet republics. However, UK diplomat Richard Turner told the BBC that the cards applied to all foreign visitors. "Our advice is very much - get the migration card, make sure that it's registered properly and also carry it with you at all times," he said. ©BBC News

    REFUGEES' TRIPS BACK HOME SPARK DEBATE(Norway)
    Cabinet Minister Erna Solberg, who has Norway's immigration agency under her purview, agrees with the police that refugees seeking asylum in Norway shouldn't be allowed to travel back to the countries they left on holiday. The agency disagrees. The practice reportedly is extensive in Norway, with some refugees caught red-handed with airline tickets back to the countries they say they fled, including Somalia and Iraq. Some refugees have said they bought the tickets with welfare aid they'd received in Norway and set aside. National police in Norway have been frustrated by the practice for years, and finally dispatched an officer full-time to the airport in Dubai, a key transit spot. The officer has stopped many refugees on their way or returning to the countries where they claimed they faced persecution. The police have wanted to invalidate the refugees' specially issued Norwegian passports on the spot, but officials at Norway's immigration agency (Utlendingsdirektoratet, UDI) have prevented that.

    Dispute over jurisdiction
    "We're the ones who have granted temporary resident status in Norway," Paula Tolenen, a departmental director at UDI, told newspaper Aftenposten. "Any changes in that status must be made by us. A policeman on the job certainly doesn't have all the information in a particular case." UDI officials, acting on a police request for clarification in such matters, also said they saw no reason to automatically "punish" an asylum seeker who traveled back to the country he or she allegedly fled. Sometimes, UDI conceded, there may be grounds for punitive action, but only after what officials called a "thorough examination" of the case. This has frustrated police, with the head of the state police agency Kripos, Arne Huuse, saying it's "hard to see the logic" in UDI's conclusion.

    Abuse of asylum
    "We can't ignore the possibility that asylum is being abused here," Huuse told Aftenposten, questioning whether some refugees really need the protection they seek. "There can hardly be any basis for granting asylum status to people who can easily visit their homelands." Solberg, the government minister, agrees, and says she'll look into trying to change the law to prevent such trips. "If an asylum seeker can visit his homeland, it can be proof that he doesn't need the protection he's getting in Norway," she told Aftenposten. "It's appropriate to react to this." The issue came to the forefront recently in the controversy over Mullah Krekar, a refugee from Iraq who traveled back to northern Iraq to lead a guerrilla group there that's now suspected of terrorist activity. Krekar, now charged with violating the terms of his asylum, has argued that many other Iraqi refugees travel back to Iraq frequently without facing punishment.
    ©Aftenpost

    ARCHBISHOP WADES INTO ASYLUM CONTROVERSY(uk)
    Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, waded into controversy yesterday when in direct contradiction to much church opinion he suggested that asylum seekers should be placed in secure accommodation while their applications for residence are processed. Dr Williams, hitherto the darling of the left, found himself winning plaudits from the Conservative party, provoking condemnation from refugee groups and creating consternation among some senior church figures for what appeared to be an attempt to prove his independent political credentials. In an interview with the Sunday Times Dr Williams said he was against the creation of detention camps but believed what he called secure accommodation was perfectly reasonable. The archbishop referred to the death last month of a Manchester detective, saying: "There's got to be a security agenda. It's a very unsafe world and there is no way around that. And the challenge for any responsible government is to be absolutely serious about security - it only takes a very small number of terrorists." Dr Williams said a few alleged terrorists could cause widespread alarm about asylum seekers: "We're talking about a tiny number in a large number of very vulnerable people. How do you assess such a threat?" And he insisted that more resources needed to be put into processing asylum claims within weeks. He added: "We are in danger of not providing the resources we need to process this in a way that doesn't mean we have people locked up in hermetically sealed compartments for an indefinite period."

    The unexpected remarks were greeted with dismay by some senior church sources, who have been fearful that the new archbishop will be erratic and might blunder by sounding off on a range of issues of which he has limited experience. Others believe he was trying to demonstrate an independent political judgment and that he is not just the "hairy leftie" that he himself has described. The government has already rejected locking up all asylum seekers as impractical. Leigh Daynes, a spokesman for Refugee Action, said: "I am shocked and surprised by the suggestion that it would be acceptable to routinely detain asylum seekers." Roger Bingham of the organisation Liberty added: "This is not a suggestion that is going to tackle any of the problems of asylum, terrorism and racism. I do not see it as a sensible or practical proposal."

    Oliver Letwin, the Conservative home affairs spokesman, said: "The archbishop's welcome comments give the lie to anybody who suggests that the Conservatives' position is extreme or inhumane. When an archbishop noted for his liberal views agrees with the Conservatives' policy ... who can any longer doubt that this is in the national interest?" Dr Williams also insisted that the next coronation - which he is likely to have to conduct - would be a Christian rather than multi-faith service as suggested by Prince Charles. He also expressed doubts about conducting any marriage of the prince to his long-term lover, Camilla Parker Bowles. Asked whether he might refuse to celebrate a marriage of the heir to the throne, Dr Williams replied: "It is possible to say no."
    ©The Guardian

    DOCTORS REBUT SCARE STORIES ON 'INFECTIOUS' IMMIGRANTS(uk)
    Doctors have called for voluntary health checks to be offered to all refugees as the medical establishment hit back against claims that immigrants are responsible for spreading infectious disease. Department of Health officials said they did not recognise figures purporting to show immigration was doubling the rate of HIV and increasing the risk of hepatitis B twentyfold, describing statistics used in the Sun newspaper and Spectator magazine as 'manipulated'. Vivienne Nathanson, head of ethics at the British Medical Association, said that far from importing disease, many asylum-seekers' health was damaged by coming to Britain and living on the breadline. Voluntary screening, however, would be an acceptable move, she said: 'We are in favour of having screening, voluntary screening, so that they can be checked and any health needs identified. 'You can't force people to have healthcare. Very many of them will have seen people wearing white coats as part of the state apparatus that kills and tortures people.'

    As the asylum debate intensified, Tony Blair's claims that Britain could drop its obligations to refugees under European human rights legislation were dismissed by legal experts as unworkable. The Prime Minister said concerns about terrorism had led the Government to consider withdraw- ing from the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 3 of the convention prohibits the deportation of a person to a country where they may face ill-treatment even when they are a danger to the state where they have sought refuge. A legal opinion by leading human rights QC David Pannick commissioned by the civil rights organisation Liberty has said the move would breach international law. Cabinet Ministers are privately deeply worried about attacks in right-wing papers, culminating in the Sun 's claim that immigrants were 'polluted with terrorism and disease', prompting demands for all asylum-seekers to be forcibly tested for HIV and hepatitis B.

    Health Secretary Alan Milburn and Home Secretary David Blunkett - who fear that concerns over alleged terrorists entering Britain as asylum-seekers will be used to whip up racism - held private talks last week. Nathanson said there was a 'groundswell of public opinion that is badly informed', inflamed by the way newspapers reported some immigrants using the NHS. Blunkett has pledged to introduce entitlement cards, which all citizens would be forced to produce before using public services such as the NHS, to allay fears about illegal immigrants getting healthcare or education. Those unable to produce a card could only be treated in a genuine emergency. But hospital staff would be likely to refuse to 'police' their wards, arguing that it would be an administrative nightmare and goes against the principle of treatment according to medical need. Dr John Coakley, medical director at the Homerton Hospital in east London, which treats a large number of refugees, said: 'There's a lot of evidence to suggest that diseases such as TB are actually acquired here due to deprivation and overcrowding.'
    ©The Guardian

    CPP WINS ITS APPEAL IN NATIVE BIAS CASE(Canada)
    A Canada Pension Plan provision that led to lower benefits for aboriginals on reserves does not offend their dignity, according to a Federal Court of Appeal ruling. The court said that while the CPP distinction was clearly based on race, it would be "historic revisionism" to assume that excluding aboriginals living on reserves from the plan amounts to an attack on human dignity. The ruling overturned a trial victory by Rose Bear, a 64-year-old aboriginal woman who had worked full-time since 1966 for the Brokenhead Ojibway nation in Manitoba. She lived on a reserve and paid no income tax, therefore none of Ms. Bear's employment counted under the plan until the law changed in 1988 to allow on-reserve natives to contribute. She currently receives a lower benefit because of the years in which she was not able to make payments. "It is an exceptional case," constitutional expert David Stratas said yesterday. "This is the first time that I've seen a court find that government is treating one race differently from others, but that the treatment is not discriminatory. Ms. Bear argued that she should be able to make retroactive contributions. She also claimed that the discrepancy wouldn't have happened had the CPP scheme not been designed to discriminate against aboriginals on reserves. However, the court felt otherwise. "I would only emphasize that in my view, the rule of law does not require that the law produce the same outcomes for every person in the country," Judge Barry Strayer wrote. He said the distinction was not discriminatory because there was no evidence that the purpose of this legislation was "to demean the dignity of Indians."
    ©Globe and Mail

    GISCARD AGAINST RELIGIOUS REFERENCE IN CONSTITUTION(eu)
    Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has formally opened the debate on the place of religion in the future EU constitution. In an interview with the German weekly, Die Zeit, the Convention president let it be known that he is against a reference to God in the future text. The question of whether a reference should be made to Europe's "religious heritage" is one of the most contentious issues in the Convention on the future of Europe, which is currently drawing up a constitution. Mr Giscard, reports Der Standard, conceded that Europeans have a religious heritage but that they live in a purely secular-political system where religion does not play a role. A move to keep church and state entirely separate will be met by huge resistance in the Convention, and within Mr Giscard's own presidium, where several members belong to the conservative European People's Party (EPP). The EPP has been strongly pushing for a reference to religion, with one presidium member, John Bruton, signing up to a petition calling for an article which states:
    "The Union values shall include the values of those who believe in God as the source of truth, justice, good and beauty as well as of those who do not share such a belief but respect these universal values arising from other sources." The presidium has been massively lobbied by both religious and secular groups. Mr Giscard has also discussed the matter with the Pope. In November last year the Pope spoke on the matter asking the Convention not to forget the "cement of that extraordinary religious, cultural and civic heritage that has made Europe great down the centuries."
    The Convention itself has not formally debated the matter yet.
    ©EUobserver

    POLAND PART OF THE REFUGEE PROBLEM IN EU
    As of 2004 Poland will be the eastern gateway to the European Union. This frontier will, even more than today, be the main entry point for eastern refugees and illegal migrants to the EU. And with a eastern border that is 1200 km long - pressing up against Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine - Poland will control the longest eastern border in the EU. At present there are eight checking points along the border with Ukraine and nine with Belarus, which have been properly equipped and strengthened with the help of the EU through the PHARE and ISPA pre-accession funds. After accession, Poland will continue receiving funds through the structural policy of the EU. But the country also relies on the trans-border co-operation that is more or less established with the Ukrainian and Belarus sides. Warsaw's authorities already have many years experience in dealing with illegal immigration and refugees, especially after the recent war in Afghanistan which has caused some 5,000 migrants to cross into Poland in a year. In the past two years, Poland also has become a destination country for those seeking asylum, illegal migrants, smugglers, and those wishing to set up prostitution networks.

    Coping with the refugees
    Chechens, Afghans, Indians and others are coming into Poland seeking protection and refuge. Most pass through Ukraine to arrive in Poland, which they often mistake for Germany. The National Refugee Administration established in Warsaw in 1991 is coping each year with around 5,000 refugees, 3,000 of whom are Chechens. The number of asylum seekers is expected to rise in the event of a war in Iraq and after Polish accession to the EU. Only around 200 are granted refugee status in Poland. In the compliance with the Dublin Convention on immigration, those who are not entitled to seek asylum are deported back to Ukraine on a case-by-case basis. The Polish authorities admit that Ukraine does not fully co-operate and there has been problems with Ukrainian border control refusing to allow people back, in spite of proof given by the Polish side. There are also cases when the illegal migrants cannot be sent back, especially if they were not caught at any border and they do not remember or refuse to tell authorities which path they have taken. In these cases, they often remain in Poland illegally and sometimes simply disappear. Those seeking asylum are allowed to wait for the verdict on Polish territory on a temporary stay permit with a validity of six months to two years, depending on the situation in their country of origin.

    Human Rights concerns
    The United Nations High Commissioner for the Refugees (UNHCR) is concerned about the treatment these migrants receive in Poland. The Warsaw office of the UNHCR believes that the refugees do not benefit from a good integration in the society, so they usually try to escape into the EU. The refugees in Poland only benefit from 12 months of little social assistance from the authorities and the staff dealing with their cases do not have enough experience or training, the UNHCR complains. There have also been cases of refugees escaping from the special centres and disappearing in Poland or the in EU. UNHCR also thinks that there are a great number of homeless refugees today in Poland. UNHCR and The Polish Humanitarian Action (PHO), an NGO established ten years ago in Warsaw, are concerned about an upcoming Polish law that introduces the concept of detention for refugees. Agnieszka Siarkiewicz, the public officer of the UNHCR in Warsaw told the EUobserver that the law, if promoted, would jeopardise the refugee's chances of having any legal help. Some refugees coming into Poland are travelling with babies and small children and their reception is not proper, says Malgorzata Gelbert from the PHO. These people are sometimes arriving during winter by very low temperatures wearing summer cloths or barely dressed and the to agree on "reception conditions" for asylum seekers. The accession countries, including Poland, nevertheless benefit from assistance and shared know-how from the EU. Poland has financial assistance and twinning programs with EU members in order to cope with the increasing refugees problem. The country will also become a member of the Schengen area after its accession to the EU and the Schengen acquis has to be complied with no opt-out possibilities - meaning in order to comply with its regulations - Poland visa's policy has to be in-line with EU regulations.
    ©EUobserver

    PARTIES CAN'T IGNORE IMMIGRATION FEARS(uk)
    Oliver Letwin, the shadow Home Secretary, warned yesterday that support for the British National Party would grow unless mainstream politicians got to grips with the "legitimate concerns" of voters over immigration. Phil Woolas, Labour MP for Oldham East, which was hit by riots last year, also issued a stern warning on the potential appeal of the BNP to disaffected whites. He complained that race attacks against white people were not being treated seriously enough by the police and cautioned that communities could turn to the BNP if they felt their worries were not being taken seriously. The comments reflect increasing concern in the main parties over signs of the BNP gaining a foothold in northern industrial towns. The far-right party now has councillors in Blackburn, Burnley and Halifax and is tipped to make further gains in May's council elections.

    Mr Letwin, in an interview with the political website ePolitix, called for a "cool-headed" debate on sensitive policy areas, such as the treatment of asylum-seekers. But he warned: "What we can't do as serious politicians, and I think the Prime Minister has been forced into recognising this too, is just sit here and ignore these legitimate concerns of decent sensible people, because if we do, we give ground to the extremists. And they have nothing to offer us – the BNP has nothing to offer this country. "We have to make sure in the mainstream parties that we're answering the legitimate concerns so that those extremists can't get purchase." He defended Tory plans to detain all asylum-seekers for screening by the intelligence services to try to stop terrorists entering Britain. Asked if the policy could reinforce the party's "nasty" image, Mr Letwin replied: "I hope we won't. I hope we won't be castigated as nasty for saying these things – partly because I think people know that what we're saying is true, partly because the tone of voice in which we're saying it is calculatedly low key. "We're trying to make it clear that we're earnest and we're rational and we're not trying to stir. But, you know, in the end you've got to stop worrying too much about how people see you and try and say the things you think are necessary and true. Otherwise, what's the point of being in politics?"

    Mr Woolas, the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said he had written to the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) asking it to investigate the treatment of racially motivated violence. Mr Woolas told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What I am trying to do in Oldham is build consent for a multicultural society and to do that, we have to be seen to be even-handed, and at the moment, unfortunately, we are not. "The way to defeat the BNP, who are both a cause and a symptom of racial hatred, is to defeat their arguments." Mr Woolas, a government whip, added: "We have had a series of very nasty and sinister attacks in my area against white people, where it is very clear that the motivation is racial. We had a terrible murder of an Asian taxi driver in the New Year and this has raised the issue and raised tensions in the town. "There is a very strong feeling of support from the Asian community in the constituency." The Labour MEP Claude Moraes, a former director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: "Racially motivated attacks on white people are something that the CRE has taken very seriously in the past. They are as brutal and are to be condemned as much as racially motivated attacks on black and Asian or ethnic- minority people. "Both must be dealt with equally and effectively."
    © Independent Digital

    PROTOCOL AGAINST RACISM ON INTERNET
    paving the way for international co-operation

    Eleven countries have just signed the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems. Henrik Kaspersen, who chairs the committee of experts which drew up the text, explains its scope.

    Question:
    Mr Kaspersen, you chaired the Committee of Experts on Crime in Cyberspace. The Convention it drafted was opened for signature in Budapest on 23 November 2001. Barely a year later, the Council of Europe is opening for signature a first Additional Protocol to the Convention, covering racist and xenophobic acts. Why wait for a protocol?

    Henrik Kaspersen:
    Many states which were involved at the drafting stage of the Convention on Cybercrime already wished provisions to be included making it a criminal offence to use computer networks, particularly the Internet, to disseminate racist or xenophobic material. The Parliamentary Assembly also expressed firm support for this idea. However, some of the parties to the negotiations were unable to accept the inclusion of such provisions in the treaty on account of their interpretation of the fundamental or constitutional principles of freedom of expression. In practice, in certain countries, the protection afforded to freedom of expression could also extend to the expression of certain kinds of racist messages which, in other states, are punishable. This is why it was decided to draw up a separate protocol for those states which considered it necessary to harmonise a definition of the criminal offence of dissemination of such messages via the Internet.

    Question:
    The Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime is the first binding text in this field. But it still remains to be taken up by the international community?

    Henrik Kaspersen:
    That is so. It has to be borne in mind that the Convention is an open text signed by some countries which are not members of the Council of Europe, such as the United States, but also Canada, South Africa and Japan. In the context of the Internet, a realistic attitude has to be adopted. The Council of Europe is pointing the way and offering a platform for joint action by those states which share the same convictions. It is nevertheless clear that the organisation cannot force a state to accede to a treaty. The signing and ratification of an international treaty is always a process entered into by a state on a voluntary basis. It is sometimes a slow process. However, once the Convention has been ratified by the requisite number of states, it will become binding for them and will enable a proper international fight against cybercrime to be conducted. This is why the Convention and its Protocol are intended to harmonise criminal legislation in certain areas and, even more importantly, to introduce both investigative powers in respect of networks and mutual assistance instruments which can be used effectively against offences committed through the Internet.

    Question:
    So what is the point of an Additional Protocol if it is only signed by the states which have already been persuaded?

    Henrik Kaspersen:
    It is first of all a response to public opinion in those countries which cannot bear to see racist or xenophobic propaganda or apologies for Nazism being spread on the Internet with impunity. It is also a challenge to states, which will have to give a political explanation to their people or to the international community as to why they do not wish to ratify this Protocol. A parallel may be drawn with the abolition of the death penalty. Many countries subscribed to that under pressure from the international community, and from the Council of Europe in particular. A precedent is set once an international Convention exists. W ©the Council of Europe

    UNIFIED ROMANI NGO NETWORK IN THE CIS AND THE BALTIC STATES
    The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) welcomes the creation of a unified network of Romani non-governmental groups of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Baltic states. The decision to create an association coordinating the work of Romani non-governmental groups in this vast geographic region was taken at the Congress of the Roma Communities of the CIS and the Baltic countries in Smolensk, Russian Federation, January 31-February 2, 2003. The ERRC believes that the creation of the Association of Roma Communities of the Baltic Countries and the CIS (ARBCIS) is the first significant step towards a strong Roma rights movement in the CIS and the Baltic states.

    Anti-Romani sentiment in the CIS and the Baltic states provides rich soil for serious violations of the fundamental rights of Roma. Due to intense anti-Romani sentiment, since the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union, Roma have increasingly become targets of racially motivated violence, in the form of police abuse, attacks by nationalist-extremist groups, or community violence, as well as of discrimination in accessing basic rights and freedoms, including access to justice, housing, education, and public goods and services. Protection provided to Roma by authorities against human rights violations is often inadequate or unavailable, and governments throughout the CIS and the Baltic states have failed to act to reduce widespread discrimination and anti-Romani sentiment. Officials in these countries have tacitly and in some cases even explicitly appealed to racist sentiments to garner support, arguably contributing to the creation of a public culture in which abuses of the fundamental rights of Roma are tolerated.

    The ERRC believes that the newly born ARBCIS can be a key player in the Roma rights movement in the CIS and the Baltic states, and therefore welcomes its establishment. The ERRC encourages ARBCIS to place human rights issues at the top of its agenda.
    ©European Roma Rights Center

    SAFE HAVENS PLAN TO SLASH ASYLUM NUMBERS(uk)
    A confidential government plan to slash the number of asylum seekers coming to Britain by deporting most of them to UN "protection areas" in their regions of origin has been drawn up by Whitehall and is to be presented to the prime minister this week. The official figures for 2002 to be published later this month are expected to show that asylum claims topped 100,000 for the first time last year. Tony Blair has demanded weekly reports on asylum arrivals and has already made clear he wants to see a radical reduction in the number coming to Britain. Under the terms of the "restricted" joint Cabinet Office-Home Office policy document, which has been passed to the Guardian, the large majority of asylum seekers would lose their right to claim asylum in Britain and would be returned to "regional protection areas", where their applications would be processed. Among locations mentioned for the regional protection areas, as part of a "new global asylum system", are Turkey, Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan for Iraqi refugees; northern Somalia for refugees from southern Somalia; and Morocco for Algerians. It also suggests Ukraine or Russia to stem the flow of economic migrants from the east of the new enlarged EU border. Officials stress that care needs to be taken that the scheme is not seen as "dumping asylum seekers on the poorer nations" nor as "using money to enable us to wash our hands of the refugee problem".

    Asylum seekers would stay in the UN special protection areas for six months while the position in their home country stabilised. The scheme envisages that those in need of longer term protection could be resettled in Britain and other European countries under a burden-sharing quota scheme determined by each country's population. The report also sets out a case for international inter vention to reduce the flow from the main refugee-producing countries with a graded response ranging from aid packages through sanctions to armed intervention as a key element of what it calls a "new vision for refugees". While conceding that "any coercive intervention in other states is of course controversial", the Whitehall policy document argues for international recognition of the need to intervene to reduce "flows" of refugees, including "military action as a last resort". The report, which would require international agreement and funding, is to be presented to Ruud Lubbers, the UN high commissioner for refugees, when he meets senior British ministers in London on Monday. Under the policy, the UNHCR would be responsible for the regional protection areas and, if it agrees to take on the role, the detailed plans for the first pilot schemes could be ready this summer. Initially it could be taken forward by a coalition of five EU states will ing to fund the scheme. The officials raise the possibility of Australia joining as well.

    It is thought the plan could be carried out without changes to the Geneva convention or European convention on refugees. The plan makes clear that the quality of protection in the UNHCR areas will have to be high enough to satisfy a British court that the human rights of those removed from Britain were not being abused by the scheme. Deporting asylum seekers to protection areas should "rapidly reduce the number of economic immigrants using asylum applications as a migration route", the report argues, as well as being a deterrent to "potential terrorists". The restricted policy document says the plan "should gradually reduce the number of asylum seekers who enter the UK and need to be processed in the UK. Therefore this takes the burden off the current asylum system but will not completely replace it".
    ©The Guardian

    PAKISTANIS ARE 8 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE VICTIM OF RACIST ATTACK THAN WHITES(uk)
    On average, a Pakistani is more than eight times as likely to be the victim of a racist attack in Britain as someone who falls under the wide-ranging ethnic category of "white". What is also true is that more than 50 per cent of victims of racial incidents are described as "white". Racial violence in Britain has become the subject of intense scrutiny since the public inquiry in 1999 into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Police are under greater pressure to record all incidents that are perceived by the victim to be racist. As a direct result, the official total of racist incidents in England and Wales rose from 11,878 in 1994-95 to 47,814 in 1999-2000. This does not mean that Britain is in the grip of an explosion of racial violence. The more reliable British Crime Survey, based on extensive interviews with the public in their homes, showed that the number of "racist incidents" fell from 172,000 in 1995 to 150,000 in 1999. Only a minority of the victims in these cases (41,000 in 1995 and 39,000 in 1999) were from "ethnic minorities".

    For those who regard a racist incident as an attack by a member of the white English population on someone of a darker skin, the findings might be surprising. But the figures include attacks by the Welsh on the English, Scots on the Irish, and English on Italians. It also takes account of assaults by young black and Asian criminals on white victims. Contrary to suggestions made yesterday, the Government's race watchdog, the Commission for Racial Equality, has not tried to shy away from the issue of white victims. Four years ago, in an interview with The Independent, Sir Herman Ouseley, who was the CRE chairman at the time, acknowledged that racism was "not just a white problem". He published a report called Racial Attacks and Harassment, showing that 238,000 white people told researchers they had been victims of a racial offence in a 12-month period, compared with 101,000 Asians and 42,000 black people. But in a statement yesterday, the CRE said that "nine out of 10" of the cases bought to it were from ethnic-minority victims. Analysis of the 2000 British Crime Survey recently released by the Home Office, shows that in a year the chances of a white person being the victim of a racial incident were less than 0.5 per cent. Afro-Caribbeans stood a more than 2 per cent chance of being targeted, with Pakistanis and Bangladeshis facing a risk of more than 4 per cent.

    Home Office research in 1996 showed that the rates of attacks on Pakistanis could be as high as 8 per cent in a year. According to the Home Office, racist attacks on ethnic- minority groups had a "noticeably greater impact" on their lives than other crimes.
    © Independent Digital

    GYPSIES ACCUSE IBM OVER HOLOCAUST(Czech Republic)
    An association of international Gypsy organizations has been allowed by a Swiss court to proceed with a $12 billion lawsuit against International Business Machines, for what the Gypsies assert was the New York-based company's role in helping the Nazis to automate the Holocaust. About 600,000 Gypsies, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe, are thought to have been killed by the Nazis and their allies during the Holocaust, and the Gypsies have long argued that they have been its forgotten victims. In a ruling made public earlier this week, a Geneva court said hearings in the case could go ahead March 20. "The point is not to make a profit from the Holocaust," said Pastor May Bittel, a Swiss Gypsy who is president of Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action, an association of more than 600 Gypsy organizations, which brought the lawsuit. "We want this business to be exposed, and we want our people to taste justice after so many years."
    ©International Herald Tribune

    MR. CHRETIEN, YOU'VE DELIBERATELY EXCLUDED THE FIRST NATIONS(Canada)
    By Matthew Coon Come, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

    Across Canada from coast to coast to coast, First Nations peoples are trapped in a cycle of ill health, inferior health care, lower life expectancy, poverty, lack of resources and despair. Our peoples have extraordinarily high rates of disease, substance abuse and suicide. As Health Canada reiterated in 2000, "Canada's aboriginal people, as a group, are the most disadvantaged and have the poorest overall health status." Pick any health indicator -- rates of infant mortality, postnatal mortality, hospitalization, AIDS and TB infection: First Nations peoples' rates are many, many times higher than most Canadians take for granted. Our life expectancy remains six or so years lower than other Canadians, a terrible cost of millions of lost potential years of life. Hundreds of reserve communities lack any resident physicians; often they're served only by one or two nurses in primitive nursing stations. By contrast, neighbouring non-native towns, some with smaller populations than the reserves, have fully equipped health centres or hospitals. Because our communities lack rudimentary care, Ottawa spends millions of dollars annually evacuating our people by air, away from families and support systems, for treatment in major centres for minor conditions.

    Today, the Prime Minister and the premiers meet to forge a new agreement on health care. Aboriginal leaders were not invited to attend this conference. The people who need to benefit the most from health-care reform in Canada are being shut out. Commenting on this exclusion, Shirley Douglas, chair of the Canadian Health Coalition, warned: "If they're not at the table, who is going to discuss the lamentable, tragic, and well-documented circumstances of aboriginal health care?" I recently told Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Health Minister Anne McLellan that First Nations must be directly involved in the discussions, decisions, development and delivery of health services to and for our peoples, on and off reserve in Canada. When health services are "done" for us, they fail. When they are delivered in partnership with us, with resources, facilities and commitment, they succeed. First Nations need the authority, resources and jurisdiction to design and deliver health-care systems based on our needs, our respective cultures and our rights. Aboriginal health is constitutionally a federal responsibility. The Prime Minister and federal Minister of Health do not need the consent of the premiers in order address First Nations health and health-care issues. The federal government has extraordinary administrative and developmental know-how and capacity -- it's the government of a G8 state. It also has massive surpluses, and broad public support for solutions to the gross social disparities facing aboriginal peoples.

    The Prime Minister recently said that since today's meeting was "a first minister's conference," only first ministers would be there. With respect, Mr. Chrétien, this excuse is fatuous. If there are no seats at the table for aboriginal leaders, that's because -- in keeping with tired, colonial and discredited past conceptions of Canadian federalism -- you deliberately set the table to exclude us. The only message I can draw from our exclusion is that -- as in past days when our fundamental interests and rights were decided in our absence, in rooms of state, in elections, in Parliament and before the Privy Council -- the intention is to shortchange and discriminate against us once more. Our tragic health and social conditions have become Canada's shame. The Prime Minister of Canada has an opportunity to do something. Because our peoples' future, and our peoples' children's future, depend upon it, I will be in Ottawa, ready to attend and participate constructively. Recent history has shown th ©Globe and Mail

    RUSSIAN LAWMAKERS PASS LANGUAGE LAW
    Watch your tongue, comrade.

    Russian legislators took aim at saltier speech in the country's rich language on Wednesday, moving to ban cursing and slang in the media, advertising and official documents. A bill passed by the lower parliament house would also outlaw the use of foreign words when a commonly used Russian word would do. So out would go 'biznes,' 'menedgment' and 'mirchendaizing.' Russian intellectuals and politicians have lamented the widespread use of foreign words that flooded the country after the Soviet collapse. The law governing the use of Russian as the state language now goes to the upper house and President Vladimir Putin for final approval. While the restrictions would not apply to private speech, Ekho Moskvy radio reported that they would apply whenever Russian is used as the state language -- in government bodies and official correspondence as well as in the media and advertising. The measure drew quick criticism from journalists and liberal lawmakers. ``This will be another club that can be used to threaten and scare the media,'' Igor Yakovenko, secretary-general of the Union of Journalists of Russia, said on TV. Boris Nadezhdin of the Union of Right Forces party called it ``fundamentally wrong.'' Sergei Mitrokhin, a lawmaker from the liberal Yabloko party, noted that the text of the bill itself included several words it would seem to forbid because they have Russian equivalents, including ``status,'' ``spheres'' and ``analog.''
    ©Associated Press

    ECRI RECOMMENDATION ON COMBATING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MUSLIMS
    Muslims living in western Europe have suffered from more verbal abuse and aggression since the attacks against the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September, according to a statement issued by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia on 29 November 2001. The centre, which was set up by the 15 member countries of the European Union, and ECRI, which represents the 44 member countries of the Council of Europe, work towards the same goal. On 10 February 1999, the Council of Europe and the European Union signed a close co-operation agreement between the Monitoring Centre and ECRI. Since then, the two bodies have met regularly to co-ordinate their monitoring activities and action.

    The statement made by the centre based on reports from all the European Union countries notes that Muslims feel surrounded by suspicion and they are constantly asked to demonstrate their disapproval of terrorism. However, the centre stresses that overall, the phenomenon of physical violence against Muslims has remained at a moderate level thanks to political leaders, who have been at pains to draw a clear distinction between their condemnation of international terrorism and recognition of the legitimate and peaceful right to practise Islam. The tragic events of the late summer and autumn of 2001 highlight the concern expressed by ECRI some months earlier in its General Policy Recommendation No.5 "Combating intolerance and discrimination against Muslims", adopted on 16 March 2000. This recommendation marks a turning point, as it was the first international text on the subject.

    In this recommendation, ECRI recalls "Islam's positive contribution to the continuing development of European societies of which it is an integral part" and calls on member states to "ensure that Muslim communities are not discriminated against as to the circumstances in which they organise and practise their religion". The text also invites governments to take measures to ensure the removal of "unnecessary legal or administrative obstacles to the construction of sufficient numbers of appropriate places of worship for the practice of Islam and to its funeral rites". There are various other recommendations on access to education and employment, and school curricula in the field of history, and particular attention is paid to the situation of Muslim women, "who may suffer both from discrimination against women in general and from discrimination against Muslims".

    General Policy recommendation n°5 : combating intolerance and discrimination against muslims
    The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance:

    Recalling the Declaration adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Council of Europe at their first Summit held in Vienna on 8-9 October 1993;
    Recalling that the Plan of Action on combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance set out as part of this Declaration invited the Committee of Ministers to establish the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance with a mandate, inter alia, to formulate general policy recommendations to member States;
    Recalling also the Final Declaration and Action Plan adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the member States of the Council of Europe at their second Summit held in Strasbourg on 10-11 October 1997;
    Stressing that this Final Declaration confirms that the goal of the member States of the Council of Europe is to build a freer, more tolerant and just European society and that it calls for the intensification of the fight against racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance;
    Recalling that Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
    Recalling also the principle of non-discrimination embodied in Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
    Bearing in mind the proposals contained in Recommendation N° 1162 on the contribution of the Islamic civilisation to European culture adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly on 19 September 1991;
    Taking note of the conclusions of the Seminar on religion and the integration of immigrants organised by the European Committee on Migration in Strasbourg on 24-26 November 1998;
    Stressing that institutional arrangements governing relations between the State and religion vary greatly between member States of the Council of Europe;
    Convinced that the peaceful co-existence of religions in a pluralistic society is founded upon respect for equality and for non-discrimination between religions in a democratic state with a clear separation between the laws of the State and religious precepts;
    Recalling that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have mutually influenced each other and influenced European civilisation for centuries and recalling in this context Islam's positive contribution to the continuing development of European societies of which it is an integral part;
    Concerned at signs that religious intolerance towards Islam and Muslim communities is increasing in countries where this religion is not observed by the majority of the population;
    Strongly regretting that Islam is sometimes portrayed inaccurately on the basis of hostile stereotyping the effect of which is to make this religion seem a threat;
    Rejecting all deterministic views of Islam and recognising the great diversity intrinsic in the practice of this religion;
    Firmly convinced of the need to combat the prejudice suffered by Muslim communities and stressing that this prejudice may manifest itself in different guises, in particular through negative general attitudes but also, to varying degrees, through discriminatory acts and through violence and harassment;
    Recalling that, notwithstanding the signs of religious intolerance referred to above, one of the characteristics of present-day Europe is a trend towards a diversity of beliefs within pluralistic societies;
    Rejecting all manifestations of religious extremism;
    Emphasising that the principle of a multi-faith and multicultural society goes hand in hand with the willingness of religions to co-exist within the context of the society of which they form part;
    recommends that the governments of member States, where Muslim communities are settled and live in a minority situation in their countries:

  • ensure that Muslim communities are not discriminated against as to the circumstances in which they organise and practice their religion;

  • impose, in accordance with the national context, appropriate sanctions in cases of discrimination on grounds of religion;

  • take the necessary measures to ensure that the freedom of religious practice is fully guaranteed; in this context particular attention should be directed towards removing unnecessary legal or administrative obstacles to both the construction of sufficient numbers of appropriate places of worship for the practice of Islam and to its funeral rites;

  • ensure that public institutions are made aware of the need to make provision in their everyday practice for legitimate cultural and other requirements arising from the multi-faith nature of society;

  • ascertain whether discrimination on religious grounds is practised in connection with access to citizenship and, if so, take the necessary measures to put an end to it;

  • take the necessary measures to eliminate any manifestation of discrimination on grounds of religious belief in access to education;

  • take measures, including legislation if necessary, to combat religious discrimination in access to employment and at the workplace;

  • encourage employers to devise and implement "codes of conduct" in order to combat religious discrimination in access to employment and at the workplace and, where appropriate, to work towards the goal of workplaces representative of the diversity of the society in question;

  • assess whether members of Muslim communities suffer from discrimination connected with social exclusion and, if so, take all necessary steps to combat these phenomena;

  • pay particular attention to the situation of Muslim women, who may suffer both from discrimination against women in general and from discrimination against Muslims;

  • ensure that curricula in schools and higher education - especially in the field of history teaching - do not present distorted interpretations of religious and cultural history and do not base their portrayal of Islam on perceptions of hostility and menace;

  • ensure that religious instruction in schools respects cultural pluralism and make provision for teacher training to this effect;

  • exchange views with local Muslim communities about ways to facilitate their selection and training of Imams with knowledge of, and if possible experience in, the society in which they will work;

  • support voluntary dialogue at the local and national level which will raise awareness among the population of those areas where particular care is needed to avoid social and cultural conflict;

  • encourage debate within the media and advertising professions on the image which they convey of Islam and Muslim communities and on their responsibility in this respect to avoid perpetuating prejudice and biased information;

  • provide for the monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of all measures taken for the purpose of combating intolerance and discrimination against Muslims.

  • ©ECRI

    ID CHECKS TO BE INTRODUCED(Netherlands)
    In future police will be authorized to require anyone in the Netherlands older than 12 to show proof of his or her identity. Failure to do so can result in a prison sentence of up to two months or a fine of up to 2,250 Euro. Police will be given powers to request proof of identity for the purpose of carrying out all their regular tasks, specifically the investigation of criminal offences, maintenance of public order, and providing assistance. Those responsible for carrying out administrative supervision will also be given the same powers, in order to improve law enforcement. Thus, the new requirement will not be confined merely to criminal suspects. These are the main points of a Bill proposing a broadened identification requirement. Mr J P H Donner, Minister of Justice, has submitted the bill for the advice of various bodies including the Data Protection Board, the Public Prosecution Service, the Council of Police Commissioners, the Council for the Judiciary, the Netherlands Association for the Judiciary (NVVR), the Netherlands Bar Association (Nova), and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities. The Strategic Accord 2002 stated that a general identification requirement would be implemented in order to combat crime and to increase the effectiveness of law enforcement. The bill is a detailed version of proposals subsequently laid down in the National Safety Plan.

    Current legislation allows police to request ID from a person stopped, or a suspect who has been arrested. If the suspect refuses, or if the police have reason to believe that he has given a false name, then the person may be arrested so that measures can be taken for establishing his identity (photographs, fingerprints etc.). The suspect can also be held for interrogation for a period not exceeding twice six hours. The police currently have no powers to demand proof of identity in performing its regular police tasks, such as maintenance of public order and providing assistance. Aside from these tasks, the police have a number of special supervisory tasks, defined by the Police Act. Examples are traffic supervision, whereby Road Traffic Regulations allow the police to ask to see a person's driving licence. Also, in the case of alien supervision, the Aliens Act 2000 grants the police powers to request ID as well as proof of residence status in the event that a reasonable suspicion exists of illegal residence. The new bill proposes no changes in these two areas.

    In addition to the police, current law also empowers, and sometimes even obliges, a number of other bodies to request ID in cases described in the statutes. One example is banks, which may request it for opening an account. Civil-law notaries may also require ID, and it must also be furnished with any application for a tax and social insurance number etc. All this will also remain unchanged. The present bill introduces major additions to the current identification requirement. The future legal requirement contains an obligation to show ID, entailing the obligation to carry valid ID at all times. The General Administrative Law Act will also include an obligation to prove identity in order to enable the implementation of administrative supervision in the various statutes involved. The obligation can be met by using currently recognized identity documents. This means that no new ones are to be proposed. In requesting ID, police and administrative supervisors will be bound to the criterion establishing the reasonable exercise of duties. This means that there must always be a reason for performing identity checks, in other words that they are not carried out randomly, but that the powers to do so shall be exercised for the purpose of improving law enforcement.
    ©Statewatch

    CROATION PM CONDEMNS NAZI SALUTES
    Croatia's prime minister has angrily condemned the use of Nazi slogans and salutes at a reception in the capital, Zagreb, for the national handball team. Prime Minister Ivica Racan warned such behaviour "could not be tolerated in Croatia". Dozens of people in the crowd gave the salute - allegedly after nationalist folk singer Marko Perkovic Thompson shouted a slogan used by Croatian Nazis in World War II. Last month, Croatian skier Ivica Kostelic had to apologise for remarks interpreted by some as pro-Nazi.

    Strong following
    Tens of thousands had gathered in Zagreb on Monday to celebrate the victory of the Croatian handball team over Germany in the world championship on Sunday. "Fascist salutes are unacceptable everywhere in the civilised and democratic world, and such scenes... tarnish the victory of our handball players and shaming us in the eyes of Europe," Mr Racan said. "Croatia has long ago broken with its Nazi past." It was reported in Croatian media that some of the handball players had insisted that Thompson - who has a strong following among nationalist Croats - should perform at the reception. The media have mostly condemned the salutes, but an association of veterans defended the singer's words as a "traditional Croatian salute". The government has given 100,000 kuna ($14,285) in prize money for each of the 17 members of the handball team for their victory in Portugal. Last month, skier Ivica Kostelic apologised for comparing his state of mind before a race to that of a German soldier in 1941. He said his comments were unfortunate and spoken under the influence of a war movie he had been watching.
    ©BBC News

    REPORTS OF RACIALLY MOTIVATED CRIME SET TO RISE(uk)
    Reports of racially motivated crime to the crown prosecution service are likely to increase over the coming years, the attorney general said today. Speaking after the publication of figures which showed a 20% rise in reports of racially motivated crime over the last year, Lord Goldsmith said that a government campaign to persuade people to report the hate crimes would see the numbers rise further. There were 3,728 cases of racially aggravated crime handed to the CPS by police between April 2001 and March 2002. Of these, 72% were prosecuted, with the remainder discontinued or dropped at court. More than eight out of 10 of the cases that went ahead resulted in a conviction. "I hope that these figures demonstrate that the confidence of the minority ethnic communities in the CPS is increasing, but we cannot be sure," Lord Goldsmith said.

    Lord Goldsmith, the government's most senior law officer, told a conference in Cardiff that the CPS had to increase public confidence in the way that racially and religious aggravated crimes were dealt with. "There is no doubt some people have lost confidence in the justice system," he said. He launched a consultation involving community groups, victims and police, which aims to come up with ways to encourage victims of racially motivated crimes to report them and pursue them through the courts. A quarter of the 28% of race crimes which never reached court were dropped or discontinued because of problems with witnesses, he said. "The consultation is a crucial first step in developing a credible public policy statement that will meet the needs of individuals when prosecuting cases which involve either racism or religious discrimination," he added.

    Those prosecuted during the period include former Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry suspects David Norris and Neil Acourt. They received 18 months imprisonment for racially abusing a black off-duty police officer, but were released last month under a Home Office scheme to ease prison overcrowding after serving just eight months. Another case was that of white supremacist David Tovey, who stockpiled weapons and explosives and stalked people from ethnic minorities in his jeep. He was jailed for 11 years in October by a judge who described him as a "lone commando". Lord Goldsmith revealed that prosecutors have so far brought 15 religiously motivated cases under new measures in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. The legislation, which, for the first time, made it a crime to target a person on religious grounds, has so far led to five convictions, two discontinued cases and one acquittal. Seven cases are still to be heard.
    ©The Guardian

    HUMAN-RIGHT OPT-OUT(Denmark)
    The Danish People's Party proposal that Denmark should follow the suggestion of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and opt out of international human rights conventions, so the immigration authorities have greater possibilities of sending refugees home, has been dismissed by the Save the Children organisation. According to the organisation's General Secretary, Mimi Jakobsen, this country should abide by fundamental international human rights legislation and not even consider sending refugees and asylum seekers back to countries where they face torture and starvation. DF leader Pia Kjærsgaard has also asked Minister of Refugees, Immigrants and Integration, Bertel Haarder for a full report of the Government's plans to deal with the possibility of a massive influx of refugees fleeing Iraq during or after a war.
    ©The Copenhagen Post

    POLICE BLOCK ANDRASSY MARCHES(Hungary)
    Neither an anti-war nor an extreme right demonstration is authorized to take place on main Budapest avenue Andrássy út, decided Budapest Police Headquarters (BRFK). The reason for the refusals was stated as the disproportional traffic disturbances which would be caused by the demonstrations in both cases. The Civilians for Peace organization intended to express its "determination for peace" and its "solidarity with the defenseless Iraqi people" with a walk from Liszt Ferenc tér to Kossuth tér along Andrássy út, on Saturday, February 15. The organization wanted to protest against the military preparations for a war in Iraq, as well as Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy's support of "American aggression". The organization said it would file a suit against the decision of the BRFK, accusing the police force of a breach of the constitution and transgression of its powers. The move follows fruitless negotiations between police and organizers concerning alternative routes. BRFK refuted the allegations and stated police had not examined and was not going to examine either the purpose of the planned demonstrations or the political orientations of their organizers. Extreme-right group the Blood and Honor Cultural Society was refused permission for an event commemorating the German and Hungarian fascist troops who defended Buda Castle against the Soviet army. It was due to take place on Andrássy út this Sunday.
    ©The Budapest Sun



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