on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
by the United Kingdom
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 12 December 2012
at the 1158th 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 the United Kingdom on 15 January 1998;
Recalling that the Government of the United Kingdom transmitted its State report in respect of the third monitoring cycle under the Framework Convention on 23 March 2010;
Having examined the Advisory Committee’s third opinion on the United Kingdom, adopted on 30 June 2011, and the written comments of the Government of the United Kingdom received on 22 December 2011;
Having also taken note of comments by other governments,
1. Adopts the following conclusions in respect of the United Kingdom:
a) Positive developments
The United Kingdom has continued to take measures to combat discrimination and advance equality and social mobility in society. In particular, a new comprehensive Equality Act was adopted in 2010 which comprises innovative approaches and provisions that pave the way for further improvements in the field of equality and human rights, including protection of minority ethnic communities. This Act could prove a milestone and set new standards in combating discrimination.
The authorities have continued to collect an extensive range of data on the situation of persons belonging to minority ethnic communities in various areas of life, as a means to evaluate better the needs of these persons and improve policies and measures to combat both direct and indirect discrimination.
Efforts to combat all forms of intolerance and racism have also been pursued by the government and the devolved administrations. Particular emphasis has been placed on combating hate crime and increasing hate crime reporting.
Efforts to achieve reconciliation and reinforce social cohesion in Northern Ireland have been pursued, including through governmental and non-governmental co-operation with Ireland.
New schemes to promote the use in public life of languages such as Gaelic and Scots in Scotland have been developed and some progress was achieved. Further steps were also taken to improve teaching of these languages at school. The Welsh authorities have continued to take substantial measures to reinforce the use and presence of the Welsh language in all areas of public life.
Additional measures were taken in the field of education to narrow the gap in attainment and achievement between students belonging to some minority ethnic communities and those from the majority population. Pilot projects to improve access to education and equality in education for Gypsy and Traveller pupils were carried out.
Participation in elected bodies of persons belonging to minority ethnic communities has increased following recent elections. Important achievements have also been made in reducing inequalities in the fields of employment, housing and health care, with some minority ethnic groups achieving better outcomes than the majority.
b) Issues of concern
Inequality of outcomes, and discriminatory practices, although gradually decreasing, persist in certain fields for certain ethnic minority groups, including for some of those recently arrived and in a vulnerable situation.
Although important measures have been taken to combat discrimination in the conduct of law enforcement officials, persons belonging to ethnic minority communities continue to be disproportionately stopped and searched by the police.
Efforts to design comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in Northern Ireland as outlined in the St Andrews Agreement, as well as a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland as outlined in the Good Friday Agreement, have so far not yielded results.
There have been important budgetary cuts in recent years which have resulted in reduced public funding for various organisations and activities, while localism has moved much decision making, including funding decisions, to the local level. It is important to ensure that these changes do not have a disproportionately adverse impact on persons belonging to ethnic minorities.
The situation of Gypsies and Travellers, particularly in the field of access to accommodation and educational attainment and attendance, is of particular concern. There has been a persistent shortage of sites, which can contribute to the establishment of unauthorised developments and encampments, which in turn can generate tensions between Gypsies and Travellers and the settled community, and result in evictions.
While the number of reported hate crimes decreased slightly, the level of such crimes is a continued cause of concern, and indicates worrying levels of intolerance by some against certain ethnic minority groups, who can be encouraged in some cases by unbalanced or biased media reporting.
The authorities have not yet adopted comprehensive legislation on the Irish language in Northern Ireland and more could be done to promote the use of this language in the public sphere.
Gypsies, Travellers and Roma continue to experience low rates of attainment in the education system, as well as low rates of enrolment, high dropout rates, the lack of trained teachers working with pupils from these minorities and the general lack of preparation of schools to integrate children of these minority backgrounds.
While measures taken to improve ethnic minority representation in public services since the second opinion have led to improvements, persons belonging to minority ethnic communities continue to be under-represented in some public services, including the police and the judiciary. While persons belonging to minority ethnic communities are, in general, consulted on issues of relevance to them, the absence of a consultative structure may result in insufficient opportunities for dialogue between them and the authorities.
2. Adopts the following recommendations in respect of the United Kingdom:
In addition to the measures to be taken to implement the detailed recommendations contained in sections I and II of the Advisory Committee's opinion, the authorities are invited to take the following measures to improve further the implementation of the Framework Convention:
Issues for immediate action:2
- take measures to ensure that savings in public expenditure do not have a disproportionately negative impact on the situation of persons belonging to ethnic minorities, for example by means of impact assessments;
- take effective measures to address the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers including by encouraging the delivery of sites and improving the co-ordination of the different levels of authorities involved in sites delivery; ensure that local authorities comply with their responsibilities in sites delivery;
- enhance efforts to seek consensus on the introduction of legislation on the Irish language in Northern Ireland and continue to take appropriate measures to protect and develop the Irish language in Northern Ireland;
- ensure the effective implementation of the Equality Act 2010 and continue to implement strategies to combat discrimination and promote equality; ensure that the Equality and Human Rights Commission has appropriate resources to carry out its functions effectively and independently;
- step up efforts to develop a single Equality Act in Northern Ireland;
- take measures to ensure that the planning policy and process in relation to the development of caravan sites takes appropriate account of the situation of Gypsies and Travellers;
- continue to take resolute measures to combat the instigation and dissemination of prejudices and intolerance, in the public sphere, including through the media, while fully respecting editorial freedom; take further steps to combat racism and similar forms of intolerance, and in particular continue to pursue a proactive approach in combating hate crime;
- ensure that “stop and search” powers are exercised in a reasonable, proportionate and non-discriminatory manner, including at all border crossings, ports and airports;
- continue to design and implement measures to encourage speakers of Irish, Ulster Scots and Gaelic languages to use their languages in the public sphere and in relations with local administrative authorities, respectively in Northern Ireland and Scotland;
- continue to take measures to improve the attainment and attendance of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma pupils at school; develop more comprehensive and integrated approaches to their education, in close co-operation with representatives of the groups concerned;
- continue to ensure that members of ethnic minorities are included in consultations on legislative and policy developments; continue promoting increased participation of persons belonging to minority ethnic communities in public services, particularly in the police and the judiciary.
3. Invites the Government of the United Kingdom, 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 section 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.
3 The recommendations below are listed in the order of the corresponding articles of the Framework Convention.