Press release - 483(2010)

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Poland

Strasbourg, 15.06.2010 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Poland. ECRI’s Chair, Nils Muiznieks, said that whilst there has been progress in certain areas, the prevalence of racist and antisemitic discourse, the lack of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and the vulnerable situation of the Roma remain sources of concern.

As regards positive developments, the Government’s Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment has taken interesting initiatives to combat racism and related forms of discrimination. Specially tasked prosecutors have been appointed to deal with racist offences. Judges and the police receive appropriate training in this connection and victim support-centres have been set up in the voivodeships.

The Programme for the Benefit of the Roma Community in Poland is an important development to address its housing, health care and employment needs. Roma associations are involved in its development and implementation. Important measures have been taken to counter discrimination on ethnic and nationality grounds in the field of education; these include the recruitment of teaching assistants for certain vulnerable groups and the phasing out of separate classes for the Roma.

However, it is disturbing that discriminatory attitudes persist in Poland. Antisemitism is partially tolerated of the political world and influential media. Racism among football fans, involving serious insults to Black players and crude references to the Holocaust, is a major problem which must be tackled by the authorities as well as by the Polish Football Association and football clubs. Some extreme right-wing organisations continue their activities unchallenged. There is an obvious need to curtail hate speech in publications and on the Internet. The courts have an important contribution to make in this respect and confidence should be built in the National Broadcasting Council’s ability to deal with complaints about ethical standards.

There is no comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, no independent specialised body to combat racism and discrimination on grounds of “race”, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin and no independent police complaints mechanism.

Educational attainment among Roma children remains low and they are more likely than others to drop out of school. The living conditions in many Roma communities are still inadequate, as the implementation of the Programme for the Benefit of the Roma Community is hampered by a number of mayors.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations, three of which require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

    - Present to Parliament comprehensive legislation against discrimination
    - Ensure that an independent organ is entrusted with the powers that a specialised body for combating racism and racial discrimination should have according to ECRI’s General Policy Recommendations No 2 and 7
    - Encourage the Polish Football Association to develop a code of conduct to address fans’ racism

Link to the report, including Government observations

ECRI is an independent human rights body of the Council of Europe which monitors problems of racism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member states.

Contacts:

Stephanie Schmölzer, ECRI Secretariat, tel: +33 388 41 3240; Stephanie.schmoelzer@coe.int
Can Fisek, Council of Europe Press Officer, tel: +33 388 41 3041; can.fisek@coe.int

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11

pressunit@coe.int

www.coe.int



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