on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 10 July 2013
at the 1176th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (hereinafter referred to as “the Framework Convention”),
Having regard to Resolution Res(97)10 of 17 September 1997 setting out rules adopted by the Committee of Ministers on the monitoring arrangements under Articles 24 to 26 of the Framework Convention;
Having regard to the voting rule adopted in the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10;1
Having regard to the instrument of ratification submitted by Spain on 1 September 1995;
Recalling that the Government of Spain transmitted its State report in respect of the third monitoring cycle under the Framework Convention on 23 August 2010;
Having examined the Advisory Committee’s third opinion adopted on 22 March 2012, as well as the written comments of the Government of Spain received on 13 November 2012;
Having also taken note of comments by other governments,
1. Adopts the following conclusions in respect of Spain:
a) Positive developments
Spain has taken important steps to develop its legal and institutional framework against discrimination. A comprehensive Bill on Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination has been elaborated, in consultation with civil society organisations which, if adopted, would widen protection against discrimination and remedy current shortcomings of the legislation in force.
The Council for the Promotion of Equal Treatment of all Persons without Discrimination on grounds of Racial or Ethnic Origin was established in 2009 as an independent body in charge of monitoring the situation in the field of discrimination and raising awareness of these issues in society as a whole. The Council established a Network of assistance to victims of discrimination, operating at the local level with the support of various NGOs.
A Comprehensive Strategy against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and other Related Forms of Intolerance was adopted at the end of 2011. Special Prosecutors against discrimination and hate crime have been appointed at regional and State levels. The Spanish Observatory of Racism and Xenophobia continues to carry out research and actions to raise public awareness of these problems. The authorities have undertaken substantial work to improve the management of the various challenges arising out of cultural and religious diversity, notably through the “Observatory of Religious Pluralism”. Policies to support the integration of immigrants in society and promote tolerance and intercultural dialogue continue to be implemented.
The Institute of Roma Culture was established in 2007 as a public foundation in charge of supporting the preservation and development of the Roma culture. A number of Autonomous Communities have introduced in their statutory laws official recognition of the Roma people and the duty to promote their full and effective integration.
The authorities have taken some steps to improve the situation of foreign Roma. No distinction is made in the application of some programmes between Spanish and foreign Roma, notably in the field of education and access to health care.
The authorities have continued to implement Roma Development Plans. They adopted a specific Action Plan for 2010-2012. Further steps have been taken to improve access of Roma to employment, as well as to eradicate slums and other forms of substandard and segregated housing that still exist in some parts of the country. Programmes continue to be implemented, at local and national level, to provide various forms of support to disadvantaged Roma pupils in the education system and to promote continuity to secondary education. Substantial progress has been achieved with regard to school enrolment and attendance of Roma pupils at the level of primary education.
The State Council for the Roma People was created in 2005 and has been effectively working since 2007 as a consultative body for the Roma community. It is composed of representatives of Roma associations at different levels and of the relevant ministries.
b) Issues of concern
Despite the numerous programmes and projects implemented over the last years and substantial progress achieved in a number of areas, Roma continue to face widespread discrimination in access to employment, housing and in the education system. Part of the Roma population continues to live in substandard housing conditions, sometimes in slums and in separated settlements, which has a detrimental effect on their state of health. They are reportedly disproportionately affected by unemployment resulting from the economic crisis and new legislation on street selling might put those Roma practising itinerant trade at risk of losing their source of income. Moreover, denial of access to public places and other manifestations of discrimination are regularly reported.
Comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation should be adopted without delay, possibly based on the comprehensive Bill on Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination that has recently been prepared in co-operation with civil society organisations. Additional support should be provided to the work of the Council for the Promotion of Equal Treatment of all Persons without Discrimination on grounds of Racial or Ethnic Origin. There is a general lack of awareness of discrimination-related issues in the judiciary and law enforcement authorities. A lack of monitoring and data collection on cases of discrimination has also been observed; however, since 2012, all discrimination-related incidents based on grounds of racial or ethnic origin known to the police have been registered.
Although comprehensive policies and programmes of promotion of the Roma community were designed at national and regional levels, in consultation with Roma representatives, they have not always been effectively implemented. The financial allocations for the implementation of these policies appear to be insufficient to meet existing needs. Additionally, there is still a lack of up-to-date information and data on the situation of the Roma in the various regions and areas of life, despite progress achieved in this respect in recent years.
Support for programmes and projects aimed at promoting and developing the Roma culture is reportedly too limited. There continues to be a lack of knowledge and awareness of the Roma culture, identity and history among the majority population. School textbooks in particular still lack adequate information in this respect.
Increasing racism and intolerance are reported in society. Immigrants and Roma (including foreign Roma) are particularly targeted by manifestations of hostility. These include opposition of neighbours to the resettlement of Roma in their district, and hate speech expressed by extremist groups.
Islamophobia is also growing and “anti-mosque” demonstrations have taken place in a number of municipalities. Some politicians have used racist rhetoric, notably as part of electoral campaigns, and the media continue to disseminate stereotypes and prejudices. There is a general lack of reporting of alleged racially-motivated offences and discrimination cases. The legal provisions on discrimination and hate crime are rarely invoked.
Whereas cases of police misconduct and abuse continue to be reported, no independent body in charge of investigating such cases has been established. Although an instruction of the Directorate General of Police prohibiting quotas of detention of immigrants and indiscriminate raids entered into force on 21 May 2012, “ethnic profiling” by the police continues to be reported as a widespread practice: persons belonging to some minority groups are disproportionately stopped and searched, especially on public transport and in the street.
The participation and representation of the Roma in the media remains very limited, including in public media. The existing initiatives concerning Roma and the media are far from being sufficient to promote effective access of the Roma to the media and counter the generally negative image of the Roma community which is disseminated through the media.
In the field of education, Roma pupils, especially those coming from disadvantaged families, continue to face difficulties in various respects: high rates of drop-out and under-achievement, despite some improvements, as well as disproportionately low participation in secondary and higher education. The continued existence of schools with a high concentration of Roma pupils, located in disadvantaged urban areas and with a generally low academic level is of deep concern.
Participation of the Roma in public affairs remains very limited. While the setting-up of the State Council for the Roma People is an important step forward to remedy this lack of participation, it remains to be seen whether this body will be able to have an effective impact on policy making. Few consultative bodies of the Roma exist at the regional level.
2. Adopts the following recommendations in respect of Spain:
In addition to the measures to be taken to implement the detailed recommendations contained in sections I and II of the opinion of the Advisory Committee, the authorities are invited to take the following measures to improve further the implementation of the Framework Convention:
Issues for immediate action:2
- take more resolute measures to implement effectively the policies aimed at improving the situation and the integration of the Roma, in close co-operation with Roma representatives; ensure that these policies are adequately resourced and are not disproportionately affected by budgetary restrictions;
- eliminate the practice of “ethnic profiling” by the police which targets persons belonging to some minority groups; increase training of the police to combat racism and discrimination, on the basis of existing good practices;
- investigate the reasons for the persisting concentration of Roma pupils in schools located in disadvantaged areas and with lower academic achievement, in order to eliminate these practices; ensure that the implementation of admission rules to schools does not result in discriminatory practices against Roma pupils;
- consult with representatives of the Berber community regarding ways and means of improving the situation of the Berber community in keeping with the spirit of the Framework Convention;
- complete without further delay the process of adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation; develop a comprehensive system of data collection on discrimination and racially-motivated offences in the justice system, in order to promote a more effective implementation of the anti-discrimination legislation in force; provide adequate support to the work of the Council for the Promotion of Equal Treatment of all Persons without Discrimination on grounds of Racial or Ethnic Origin;
- continue and improve the systematic collection of data and information on the situation of the Roma in various areas of life; carefully assess the impact of the economic crisis on their situation, so as to avoid further discrimination against them;
- continue to provide adequate support to the Institute of Roma Culture; take more resolute measures, at the central and regional levels, to support the preservation and promotion of Roma culture;
- pursue and strengthen efforts to combat all forms of racism and intolerance and to promote respect for cultural and religious diversity; ensure that budgetary restrictions do not affect disproportionately the effective implementation of policies that have been launched in this respect and the work of related institutions; condemn firmly and unequivocally, investigate, prosecute and sanction effectively all expressions of racism or intolerance, including in politics and in the media;
- consider ways of promoting a wider application of the existing legislation against racism and racially-motivated discrimination; redouble efforts to improve the training and awareness of the judiciary on these issues; consider amending the Criminal Code in order to make the current provisions on hate crime more effective;
- take far more resolute measures to promote access of the Roma to the media, including by supporting the training of Roma journalists; combat the dissemination of prejudice and stereotypes against Roma in the media;
- ensure progression of Roma pupils beyond primary education, as well as their successful completion of secondary education; increase the use of school mediators in a more systematic manner; undertake a review of school textbooks in order to ensure that sufficient and adequate information on the Roma culture, history and language is provided to all pupils, at all levels of education;
- promote actively the participation of the Roma in elected bodies at all levels; continue supporting the work of the State Council for the Roma People with a view to ensuring its regular and effective consultation on all matters of concern to the Roma; ensure that the composition of the Council fully represents the diversity of the Roma movement in Spain; promote the establishment of consultative bodies for the Roma at the regional and locals levels;
- take measures to avoid Roma street sellers losing their source of income as a result of the implementation of the new legislation on street markets and itinerant trade; pursue the ongoing projects to eradicate slums and segregated and substandard housing, drawing on existing good practices, in order to promote the integration of the Roma families concerned in mainstream housing.
3. Invites the Government of Spain, in accordance with Resolution Res(97)10:
a. to continue the dialogue in progress with the Advisory Committee;
b. to keep the Advisory Committee regularly informed of the measures it has taken in response to the conclusions and recommendations set out in sections 1 and 2 above.
1 In the context of adopting Resolution Res(97)10 on 17 September 1997, the Committee of Ministers also adopted the following rule: “Decisions pursuant to Articles 24.1 and 25.2 of the Framework Convention shall be considered to be adopted if two-thirds of the representatives of the Contracting Parties casting a vote, including a majority of the representatives of the Contracting Parties entitled to sit on the Committee of Ministers, vote in favour”.
2 The recommendations below are listed in the order of the corresponding articles of the Framework Convention.