Fundamental Rights Report 2020 (excerpts), 2020

2. EQUALITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION

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2.2. EFFECTIVENESS AND INDEPENDENCE OF EQUALITY BODIES STILL UNDER SCRUTINY

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Against this background, country reports and conclusions on the implementation of previous recommendations released in 2019 by the Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) show that lack of independence and insufficient human and financial resources continue to affect a significant number of equality bodies across the EU. [..]

The lack of a mandate to provide independent assistance to victims of discrimination came out in the report on Latvia. 33 [..]

33 Council of Europe, ECRI (2019), ECRI report on Latvia (fifth monitoring cycle), Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 5 March 2019.

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3. RACISM, XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED INTOLERANCE

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3.1. RACISM REMAINS A PERSISTENT PROBLEM

Racism and prejudice continued to pose serious challenges across the EU. Several people were murdered in hate crimes in 2019, as in previous years. Troublingly, diverse polls – exploring both general attitudes and individual experiences − suggest that tolerance of racism and right-wing extremism is growing.

Around one in three of 1,005 Latvian residents do not want to work alongside Roma (33 %), Afghan (30 %), Pakistani (29 %), Syrian (26 %) or African (25 %) persons, a poll revealed.1

1 Latvia, Research centre SKDS (2019), Opinion of Latvian residents about ethnic relations in Latvia (Latvijas iedzīvotāju viedoklis par etniskajām attiecībām Latvijā).

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3.2. LEGAL AND POLICY INITIATIVES TO CURB HATE CRIME AND HATE SPEECH FALL SHORT

The Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia (2008/913/JHA) defines a common criminal law approach to racist and xenophobic hate speech and hate crimes and establishes objectives the Member States have to fulfil to ensure that certain serious manifestations of racism and xenophobia are punishable throughout the EU. [..]

In 2019, ECRI identified gaps in several Member States’ legislation against the public expression of and incitement to hatred, which is also subject to EU legislation. Its reports on Ireland,23 Latvia,24 Slovenia25 and Romania26 raised concerns that no legislative provisions penalise the public expression of insults, or defamation on grounds of race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin.

24 Council of Europe, ECRI (2019), ECRI report on Latvia (fifth monitoring cycle), Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 5 March 2019

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3.2.3. Encouraging hate crime reporting

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To increase trust in the police and to address hate crime under-reporting, ECRI recommended that Latvia establish a state police unit to reach out to vulnerable groups.78 [..]

78 Council of Europe, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (2019), ECRI report on Latvia (fifth monitoring cycle), Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 5 March 2019.

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Providing tools for policymakers to address hate crime

In 2019, several EU projects funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme 2014-2020 developed multilingual tools and guidance for policymakers at national, regional and local level to address hate crime. These include:

— Proximity policing against racism, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance (Proximity) – Spanish Observatory for Racism and Xenophobia (Oberaxe), Ministry of Employment and Social Security, with partners in Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom:

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3.3. More efforts needed to implement Racial Equality Directive correctly

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ECRI and CERD expressed concern about gaps in legislation against ethnic discrimination in a number of Member States. For example, in its report on Latvia, ECRI stressed that there is currently no comprehensive legislation dedicated to prohibiting racial discrimination.83

83 Council of Europe, ECRI (2019), ECRI report on Latvia (fifth monitoring cycle), Strasbourg, Council of Europe, 5 March 2019.

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Document data: 11.06.2020. ISBN 978-92-9474-895-9 Link: https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2020-fundamental-rights-report-2020_en.pdf

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