CM(2002)3 18 January 2002
784 Meeting, 21 February 2002
4 Human Rights
4.1 European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
Abridged report of the 26th meeting (11-14 December 2001)
1. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) held its 26th plenary meeting in Strasbourg (Human Rights Building) from 11 to 14 December 2001, with Mr Nikos FRANGAKIS (member in respect of Greece) in the Chair.
2. The list of participants and the agenda, as adopted, appear respectively in Appendix I and II of the report (CRI (2001) 54) available at the ECRI Secretariat.
3. This abridged report contains a list of the items discussed and decisions taken at the meeting.
Items 1 and 2: Opening of the meeting and adoption of the agenda
4. See introduction.
Item 3: Communication by the Secretariat
5. The Secretariat provided ECRI with information on recent developments within the Council of Europe of relevance to its work.
Item 4: Recent events in the world
6. ECRI held an exchange of views on the way in which it could respond to the dramatic events that took place with the terrorist attacks against the United States on 11 September 2001. It agreed to focus its reaction on matters within its remit, i.e. the impact of this situation on the fight against racism and intolerance. ECRI decided to contribute in the most practical and flexible manner possible to the general efforts being made by the Council of Europe, in particular by intensifying multicultural dialogue. It adopted a Declaration on these issues. This Declaration is set out in Appendix I to this abridged meeting report.
7. A “working group on dialogue” was set up to prepare an action programme focused on relations with civil society with the aim of involving the various sectors of society in intercultural dialogue. ECRI instructed the working group to submit this programme of action at its 27th plenary meeting (19-21 March 2002) with a view to its launching on 21 March 2002, on the occasion of the International Day against Racial Discrimination. ECRI also decided to mark the day of 21 March by a special event on the theme of dialogue, convening guests invited by ECRI. The preparation of this event was entrusted to the working group on dialogue. The latter was composed of Professor Gün KUT, Mr Roger LINSTER, Mr Godwin MUSCAT-AZZOPARDI, Professor Andrzej SICINSKI, Professor Eva SMITH ASMUSSEN, Ms Winnie SORGDRAGER and Professor Victor VOLCINSCHI.
8. Following its discussions, ECRI also decided to empower its Bureau to react immediately and in an appropriate manner to future current events requiring a rapid response on ECRI’s part, due to the impact such events may have on matters concerning the fight against racism and discrimination in member States.
Item 5 : Implementation of the second round of ECRI’s country-by-country approach
9. On the basis of information document CRI (2001) 43, ECRI held a general exchange of views on the implementation of the second round of its country-by-country work, and decided to include Armenia and Azerbaijan in the list of countries to be covered in 2002.
Item 6: Proposals relating to the strengthening of ECRI
10. At their 736th meeting (10-11 January 2001), the Ministers’ Deputies invited ECRI to give an opinion on how its action might be strengthened. ECRI therefore discussed the way in which it could best address this issue and drafted proposals in this respect. These proposals, as adopted by ECRI and transmitted to the Ministers’ Deputies, are set out in Addendum I to this abridged meeting report.
Item 7: Proposals concerning the third round of ECRI’s country-by-country work
11. On the basis of the results of the work of the ad hoc working group responsible for preparing the third round of country-by-country work (cf. CRI (2001) 48), and taking account of the discussions held at the consultation meeting with national liaison officers (17 October 2001; cf. CRI-NLO (2001) 4), ECRI finalised its proposals concerning the third round of its country-by-country work. These proposals, as adopted by ECRI and transmitted to the Ministers’ Deputies, are set out in Addendum II to this abridged meeting report.
12. ECRI decided that the ad hoc working group responsible for preparing the third round of country-by-country work (Mr Roger LINSTER, Mr Michael HEAD, Professor Eva SMITH ASMUSSEN and Professor Joseph VOYAME) should pursue its work in 2002, so as to continue preparing certain aspects of the third round of country-by-country work.
Item 8: Adoption of draft country-by-country reports
13. ECRI examined the preliminary draft reports on Finland, Latvia, Malta and Ukraine and held an in-depth discussion on these texts.
14. In accordance with the country-by-country procedure, the above-mentioned four draft reports, as prepared at the present meeting, will be transmitted by the Chair of ECRI to the Permanent Representatives of the member States concerned for a process of confidential dialogue with the authorities of those countries. Since this dialogue will be channelled through the intermediary of the national liaison officers based in the different countries, ECRI’s Secretariat will also forward a copy of the draft report directly to the national liaison officers concerned.
Item 9: Adoption of final country-by-country reports
15. ECRI examined the country-by-country reports that had been the subject of a dialogue with the relevant national liaison officers and which were now submitted to ECRI for final adoption.
16. ECRI adopted the final reports on Estonia, Georgia, Ireland, Italy and Romania. These texts are reproduced in Addendum III to this abridged meeting report. In accordance with the country-by-country procedure, as agreed by the Ministers' Deputies at their 598th meeting
(1-3 July 1997), these reports will be transmitted by ECRI to the governments of the member States in question through the intermediary of the Committee of Ministers. These reports will be made public two months after their transmission to these governments, unless the latter are expressly against making these texts public.
Item 10 : Future ECRI general policy recommendation on key components of a body of legislation at national level against racial discrimination
17. Professor Joseph VOYAME, Chair of the working group on anti-discrimination legislation, presented a progress report following the 3rd meeting of the working group, held in Paris on 16 November 2001 (cf. doc. CRI (2001) 49)
Item 11 : Information on the Committee of Ministers’ monitoring procedures
18. ECRI was informed by Mr Andrew DRZEMCZEWSKI, Head of the Monitoring Department, about the Committee of Ministers’ monitoring procedures on compliance with member States’ commitments, bearing in mind that a new theme decided by the Committee of Ministers for thematic monitoring was “non-discrimination, with emphasis on the fight against intolerance and racism”.
Item 12 : Exchange of views with Mr Robert PURKISS, Chair of the Management Board of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia
19. ECRI held an exchange of views with Mr Robert PURKISS, Chair of the Management Board of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). The discussion focused mainly on current challenges for the fight against racism in Europe and the development of the co-operation between ECRI and the EUMC.
Item 13 : Elections
20. ECRI held elections to the posts of Chair, Vice-Chairs and two members of the Bureau. The elections were held in accordance with paragraphs 37 to 41 of the document on the internal organisation and working methods of ECRI. The following were elected :
- Chairman : Mr Michael HEAD (member in respect of the United Kingdom), elected for two years;
- 1st Vice-Chair : Mr Jenö KALTENBACH (member in respect of Hungary), elected for one year;
- 2nd Vice-Chair : Ms Alenka PUHAR (member in respect of Slovenia), elected for one year;
- Member of the Bureau : Ms Martine VALDES-BOULOUQUE (member in respect of France), elected for two years;
- Member of the Bureau: Ms Margareta WADSTEIN (member in respect of Sweden), elected for two years.
The two other members of the Bureau whose terms of office had not expired were : Mr Roger LINSTER (member in respect of Luxembourg) and Ms Winnie SORGDRAGER (member in respect of the Netherlands).
Item 14: Follow-up to European and World Conferences against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
21. The Chair of ECRI, who participated within the Council of Europe delegation to the World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (Durban, 31 August – 8 September 2001), reported orally and the Secretariat provided information on what was envisaged by the Council of Europe concerning the follow-up to the European and World Conferences against racism.
Item 15: Timetable for future work
22. ECRI decided on the timetable for its forthcoming meetings, as it appears in Appendix IV to the report (CRI (2001) 54) available at the ECRI Secretariat.
Declaration adopted by the European Commission against Racism
and Intolerance (ECRI) at its 26th plenary meeting
(Strasbourg 11-14 December 2001)
ECRI fully endorses the content of the communiqué on international action against terrorism adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at its 109th Session, held in Strasbourg on 8 November 2001. It particularly welcomes the sections of the communiqué concerning the safeguarding of fundamental values and investing in democracy and also welcomes the fact that the Ministers stressed the particular importance they attached to the fight against all forms of intolerance and discrimination. ECRI also notes with satisfaction that the Council of Europe intends to take initiatives to promote a wide intercultural and inter-religious dialogue.
Terrorism and terrorist activities, irrespective of their origin, are incompatible with and threaten the values, principles and ideals of liberty, democracy, justice and human rights. Terrorism builds upon hatred and fanaticism, which in turn lead to discrimination and human rights violations.
At the same time, the response to the threat of terrorism should not itself encroach upon the very values and principles we aim to safeguard, and should not in any way weaken the protection and promotion of human rights. Terrorism should be combated, but it should not become a pretext under which discrimination and intolerance are allowed to flourish.
ECRI reiterates its own strong commitment to the values and principles laid down and protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. ECRI is profoundly convinced of the principle of equal dignity of all human beings, which is the cornerstone of all democratic systems and forms the basis of these texts.
In this context, ECRI is all the more determined to continue and intensify its efforts to combat racism and intolerance. It is convinced that such efforts can help to prevent the development of the conditions in which terrorism may gain ground.
ECRI calls on the governments of the Council of Europe member States to remain vigilant vis-à-vis hostile reactions towards particular groups of the population. These reactions and their discriminatory effects must be closely monitored and specific steps should be taken to prevent and to counter them.
ECRI, for its part, wishes to contribute to the wider efforts within the Council of Europe to respond to the threats posed by terrorism and its consequences, by building on its existing work and taking above all an action-oriented approach.
In future, every aspect of ECRI’s work, especially its country-by-country reports, its general policy recommendations and its collection and dissemination of examples of “good practices”, will take account of the need to involve the various sectors of society in intercultural dialogue and of the importance of mutual respect. ECRI will step up its activities concerning its relations with civil society. As part of this activity, an action programme will be launched on 21 March 2002 on the occasion of the International Day against Racial Discrimination.