► European agency report calls for independent body on racism, intolerance ►
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has called on Spain to establish a “strong and independent” body to monitor racism, xenophobia and intolerance, noting gaps in the country’s hate-crime legislation and saying Spain’s Council for the Promotion of Equal Treatment (CERED) has all but ceased to exist since being established nearly a decade ago.
Separately, a delegation to Spain from the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent has reported that racial profiling remains “a daily reality for people of African descent” in Spain and called on the government to do more to “investigate and prosecute perpetrators and to provide redress to victims” of racial intolerance and discrimination.
In a periodic country report on Spain’s progress in combating racism and intolerance, the European Council’s ECRI agency for monitoring racism, intolerance and xenophobia within the council’s 47 member states, noted advances made by Spain since the last report was issued in 2010. ECRI commended Spain for strengthening hate-crime provisions and making racist motivation an aggravated circumstance for violations of Spain’s penal code, while noting that Spain has set up a national Network of Centres of Assistance for Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination and that the Spanish Ombudsperson’s office has intensified its activities to promote and ensure equality.
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Nevertheless, the ECRI report said that discrimination persists in Spain, particularly “towards Muslims, Roma and LGBT persons”. The report said anti-discrimination provisions in Spanish legislation are virtually “hidden and almost no discrimination cases have been brought to court”, and noted that proposed legislation in 2011 designed to correct the situation was never passed by Congress, then controlled by a majority of deputies belonging to the governing Partido Popular (PP).
The report also noted that the CERED anti-discrimination council “is not independent, does not have an infrastructure of its own and has ceased almost all own activities”, pointing to the fact that CERED has not issued any report on its activities since 2012 and has been without a president since 2015. ECRI called on Spain to provide a budget to the Spanish agency or substitute it with one that can function independently, has its own investigative powers and the right to initiate and participate in court proceedings involving racial and ethnic discrimination.
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