Strasbourg, 10 July 2014 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its annual report, calling for timely action against extremist organisations that promote racism to avoid an escalation of violence and related criminal activities.
ECRI noted a surge in support for aggressive nationalist and populist xenophobic parties and the persistence of fascist World War II nostalgia in several member states. The report, which examines the main trends in 2013, says that more needs to be done to communicate a positive image and the advantages of a diverse society and urged countries to adopt national action plans to fight racism and discrimination.
In certain cases, the report notes, the failure of the police to discharge their obligations in full respect of human rights and the rule of law resulted in increased levels of xenophobia. ECRI calls for prompt and effective action to contain racist aggression but at the same time warns the authorities to be careful not to feed the spiral of violence.
Although 2013 was another year of tragedy in the Mediterranean, asylum policies have become more restrictive in some countries and drastic measures – including border fences – have been taken to keep migrants out. Refugees have been subject to hate campaigns.
“ECRI urges European governments to ensure that all persons in their territory can access basic human rights regardless of their immigration status,” said ECRI’s Chair Christian Ahlund. “We are asking them to establish mechanisms whereby irregular migrants are able to report abuses freely,” he stated.
ECRI notes that hate speech continues to be a major problem across Europe and will look carefully at measures taken by member states to deal with the phenomenon, including forms of expression that should be criminalised, and other kinds of intolerant and inflammatory discourse targeting vulnerable groups, such as Roma, migrants, Muslims and Jews. (more...)