UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination publishes findings on Bahrain, Botswana, Brazil, France, Georgia and Jamaica

OHCHR

The Committee was concerned that Bahraini women married to foreigners still cannot pass on their nationality to their children, leaving them vulnerable to statelessness. It remained concerned that the nationality of certain individuals, including human rights defenders, has been revoked on alleged national security grounds. The Committee recommended that Bahrain expeditiously reform its legislation to allow Bahraini women to transmit nationality to their foreign-national spouses and children. It also asked Bahrain to revise the Citizenship Act to ensure that no one will lose citizenship from exercising fundamental human rights.

The Committee expressed concerns about reports that migrant domestic workers continue to face difficult working conditions, such as forced labour, non-payment of wages, passport confiscations, and debt bondage. It requested Bahrain to ensure that the employment of migrant domestic workers is regulated under the Labour Code and that all existing legal provisions prohibiting exploitative labour practices, sexual harassment and other abuses are enforced effectively.

Botswana

The High Court of Botswana ruled in 2006 that the Government’s refusal to grant Basarwa and Bakalagadi indigenous peoples access to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve without a permit was illegal and unconstitutional. The Committee, however, noted with concerns that some indigenous groups are still not permitted to settle back in the reserve. It asked Botswana to fully implement the High Court’s decision by allowing all ethnic groups originating from this reserve to return and settle there unconditionally.

Notwithstanding some amendments, the Committee remained concerned that a limited number of non-Tswana tribes have been admitted into the House of Chiefs. It recommended that non-Tswana tribes are admitted to the House of Chiefs in an inclusive manner and according to their own decision-making mechanisms, and that the chiefs of tribes are treated within this chamber on an equal footing.

Brazil

The Committee was alarmed by the persistent use of excessive and lethal force by law enforcement and military officials in Brazil. It articulated concern about the use of heavy machine gun fire in densely populated areas during highly militarised raids in favelas, resulting in the death and injuries of predominantly Afro-Brazilian civilians, including pregnant women and children. It urged Brazil to take immediate measures to prevent and end these grave violations against Afro-Brazilian. It also asked the State party to take decisive action to stop the excessive and lethal use of force by law enforcement and military officials and recommended a range of different measures.

The Committee expressed concern about the situation of Black and Indigenous women, who are oppressed by the intersection of structural racism, poverty, and the disparate negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It recommended that the State party prioritise the enjoyment of economic and social rights by Black and Indigenous women when developing special measures.

France

With regard to the persistent and widespread racist and discriminatory discourse, especially in the media and on the Internet, the Committee stressed its concern about some political leaders’ racist remarks against certain ethnic minorities, in particular Roma, Travellers, Africans, people of African descent, people of Arab origin and non-citizens. It asked France to redouble its efforts to effectively prevent and combat racist hate speech through effective legislation enforcement and to punish all manifestations of racism and race-based hate on public platforms.

The Committee was concerned that police and other law enforcement officers often use identity checks, discriminatory arrests and fixed penalties to disproportionately target certain minorities, especially Africans, people of African descent, people of Arab origin, Roma, Travellers and non-citizens. It asked France to ensure that racial and ethnic profiling is clearly defined and prohibited in legislation and to provide clear operational guidelines to all law enforcement officials.

Georgia

While welcoming a number of recent legislative and institutional reforms, the Committee expressed concern that discriminatory attitudes persisted. It called on Georgia to take necessary measures to ensure effective implementation of its anti-discrimination legislation, such as providing continuous support for the Public Defender’s Office and specialised training for law enforcement and justice sector officials.

The Committee questioned Georgia on the persistence of structural socio-economic inequalities in areas densely populated by ethnic minorities, such as access to quality education, as well as the low level of representation of minorities in political and decision-making bodies. It asked Georgia to step up efforts to address the multiple challenges faced by minorities, including by addressing low levels of knowledge of the Georgian language, which is a major barrier to effective integration.

Jamaica

The Committee was concerned about the persistence of socio-economic disadvantages related to skin colour, which affects mainly darker skin Jamaicans in educational attainment, income and standard of living. Concerns were also raised on reports of discrimination against darker skin Jamaicans in employment and hiring practices, particularly in restaurants and the tourism sector. It recommended that Jamaica conduct research on the persistence of socio-economic disadvantages related to race and skin colour in order to adopt all necessary measures to address any form of social inequality based on direct, indirect or intersecting forms of discrimination on the grounds of race, skin colour and class.

The Committee noted the view of the State party that there are no Indigenous Peoples in Jamaica and that this approach could marginalise communities such as the Maroons and the Tainos who self-identify as Indigenous peoples. The Committee recommended that the state party should reconsider its approach with regard to the Indigenous Peoples, giving due regard to the principle of self-identification and engaging in open and inclusive discussions with the Maroon and Taino communities on this matter.

The above findings, officially named Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session webpage.

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