Maria Oborina The Fight Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia



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Maria Oborina

The Fight Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia.

Russian Federation is a country used to immigration from former Soviet Union in 90th. A lot of people from Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan have moved and lived in Russia. After tens of years of isolation, in the last 15 years there has also been a large growth of foreign students from Africa, Asia and Latino America learning. Following this development in Russia has experienced new conflicts related to migration. We must recognize that discrimination against immigrants (especially from people coming from Central Asia), and against domestics migrants (especially from The Chechen Republic and Roma), anti-semitism are part of russian society.
Since the adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international community has made some advances in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia. A big set of international laws have been enacted and numerous international human rights instruments have been adopted.

- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (New York, 7 March 1966)



- International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (New York, 18 December 1990)
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties. The body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families by its State parties is The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW).
All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Conventions and then every five years. The Committee will examine each report and address its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.
In addition to the reporting procedure, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination establishes three other mechanisms through which the Committee performs its monitoring functions: the early-warning procedure, the examination of inter-state complaints and the examination of individual complaints.
The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will also, under certain circumstances, be able to consider individual complaints or communications from individuals claiming that their rights under the Conventions have been violated.1
The Russian Federation (The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) signed International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on 7 March 1966 and ratified it on 4 February 1969. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families has not been signed and ratified by Russia. (The convention has been ratified by 42 states and 16 states have signed it.)
Another element of an UN international system of protection The United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
From 12 to 17 June 2006 The United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diene, visited the Russian Federation at the invitation of the Government. The Special Rapporteur travelеd to Moscow and St. Petersburg to gather first-hand information on the question of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in particular in relation to a number of minority communities.2
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human is active throughout the OSCE area in the fields of election observation, democratic development, human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and rule of law. The Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Programme was launched in 2004. According to the main issues The ODIHR is specifically tasked to:

Serve as a collection point for information, statistics and legislation received from OSCE States on hate crimes;

Collect and disseminate best practices for responding to and combating hate crimes and for promoting tolerance and respect throughout the OSCE region;

Monitor incidents of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, including against Muslims, Christians and members of other religions;

Offer assistance and support to OSCE participating States and civil society in their efforts to combat racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.
The overall goals of the Programme are to support OSCE participating States and civil society in their efforts to:

Combat hate crimes and violent manifestations of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance including against Muslims, Christians and members of other religions;

Promote intercultural understanding and a respect for diversity;

Ensure freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief. 3


The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is entrusted with the task of combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in greater Europe from the perspective of the protection of human rights, in the light of the European Convention on Human Rights, its additional protocols and related case-law (Article 1 of ECRI’s Statute).
ECRI’s objectives are: to review member states’ legislation, policies and other measures to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, and their effectiveness; to propose further action at local, national and European level; to formulate general policy recommendations to member states; to study international legal instruments applicable in the matter with a view to their reinforcement where appropriate.4
But in spite of this international human rights instruments victims in many countries, including Russia, continue to suffer from violence on the basis of their ethnic origin or religious affiliation.
Hate crimes continue to be a serious problem in Russia Federation. During the period from January till July 2010, 90 attacks motivated by aggressive xenophobia were committed and 22 dead and 105 wounded at least were their results. During similar period of 2009 43 people at least perished killed and 168 people at least were wounded, in 2008 – 78 people at least perished and 268 people at least were wounded (overview of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights).5 Hate crimes attacks by ultranationalist, fascist groups, skinheads, football fans.
In my opinion such crimes may be more. And I can not agree with Ministry of foreign affairs of the Russian Federation spokesman Mikhail Kamynin whom at the end of UN Commission on Human Rights on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance Doudou Diene visit to Russia said that he shall permit himself “to disagree with the assertion of Diene about the impunity of perpetrators of racial, ethnic or religious hate crimes. Such crimes are mandatorily investigated and the culprits are identified and brought to justice. Contemporary Russian legislation, in particular the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, contains an extensive array of instruments for the prevention and punishment of any manifestations of racism and xenophobia.”
According to Russian NGO the Russian Federation should promptly investigate all allegations of torture, ill-treatment and other race-related abuses by agents of the state and ensure protection against any form of intimidation, harassment or abuse. Consider establishing a commission of inquiry into cases and patterns of race-related ill-treatment. State statistical reports must include data on the number and results of hearings in civil, as well as administrative and criminal cases arising in relation to discrimination and incitement to racial, national or religious hatred.6
Sometimes problem is not only in a desire not to spoil the statistics but in unprofessional investigation of Hate Crime. Elizabeth Howe, General Counsel, International Association of Prosecutors said “Hate Crime can only be prosecuted effectively if there is reliable and relevant evidence. Well informed training for criminal justice practitioners is essential can make a real difference.”
It is necessary to develop a special programs and seminars for prosecutors, policeman and judges to detect and investigate Hate Crime.
NGO report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Compliance of the Russian Federation with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also recommends include cross-cultural awareness and anti-racism programs into the selection, training and monitoring of justice officials. Institute comprehensive training and performance monitoring programmers to ensure that all officials, including law enforcement officers, do not act in a discriminatory way.7
Helen Keller, American author, wrote “The highest result of education is tolerance.” Nowadays history interpretations became reasons of conflicts. School education provides our main knowledge about history of countries, reasons and results of wars, historical figures and national heroes. Propaganda and distortion of facts at school play important role in creating “the enemy”. History and geography education mustn’t be full of stereotypes and prejudices, wrong interpretations.
The Council of Europe appealed to history professionals asking them to follow three main principles: history without propaganda, history without prejudices, and history based only on real facts.8
Education is the most effective means of preventing intolerance. Educational organization, public centers and NGOs should promote respect for human rights and the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia among young people, support the cultural and language pluralism and give background knowledge about development of racism in society.
As it was said early, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families has not been signed and ratified by Russia. But this Convention is the one of the main human rights document provides the protection of the rights of migrant workers and has great importance to the principle of non-discrimination with respect to rights.
States Parties undertake, in accordance with the international instruments concerning human rights, to respect and to ensure to all migrant workers and members of their families within their territory or subject to their jurisdiction the rights provided for in the present Convention without distinction of any kind such as to sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth or other status. (Article 7).9
Migrants shall have the right at any time to complain with individuals claiming that their rights under the Convention have been violated. The Russian Federation must demonstrate willingness to be held accountable for migrants and must ratify the Convention.
Antidiscrimination campaigns of large NGOa and small active groups have to play a major role in fight against discrimination and encouraging intercultural dialogue. They could support to introduce into the national legislation antidiscrimination articles and stop the countrywide campaign of persecutions against ethnic minorities. Some of this campaigns more effective and really change the situation, some do not reach the goal.
Analyses of the effectiveness of a campaign against racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia will be review in the second part of this essay.


1 http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/index.htm

2 Press-conference of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Mr. Doudou Diene on 16 June 2006 in the Interfax news agency.

3 http://www.osce.org/odihr/20064.html

4 http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/activities/mandate_en.asp

5 http://antirasizm.ru/

6 NGO report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Compliance of the Russian Federation with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (updated in March 2008) http://www.memo.ru/

7 NGO report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Compliance of the Russian Federation with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination http://www.memo.ru/hr/discrim/ver1/index.htm

8 http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/pages/thema01.htm

9 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families/ Adopted by General Assembly resolution 45/158 of 18 December 1990


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