98th Session of the Convention of the Committee on the Elimination of the Racial Discrimination.

CERD – Convention of the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

23rd of april 2019; Meeting n. 2710th:
Opening of the session of the works.

Introductory remarks:
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning opened its ninety-eighth session during which it will review anti-discrimination efforts by Andorra, Guatemala, Hungary, Lithuania and Zambia. The Committee heard an address by Maja Andrijasevic-Boko, Chief a.i. of the Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Section of the Human Rights Treaties Branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and it adopted the session’s programme of work and revised agenda.
In her opening statement, Mrs. Andrijasevic-Boko reminded that the International Day against Racial Discrimination had been celebrated one month ago both at the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly under the theme “Mitigating and Countering the Rising Nationalist Populism and Extreme Supremacist Ideologies”. This had been another opportunity to alert to the seriousness of the situation. In that context, the High Commissioner for Human Rights had stressed that the Convention encourages firm legislation to prevent the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or racial hatred and called upon States to openly condemn their dissemination, as they incited to discrimination.
Turning to the 2020 review of the treaty body system, Mrs. Andrijasevic-Boko encouraged the Committee to pursue its discussion and elaborate a common position. The meeting of the Chairs of the treaty bodies that would take place in New York would be the last formal opportunity for inclusive discussions before the review of the treaty body system, which was scheduled to take place by April 2020. In that regard, the Secretariat of the meeting of the Chairs stood ready to support the Committee, and a dedicated extranet page had been created. Several stakeholders were keen to consult with Committee members to exchange views. The General Assembly, in its Resolution 73/162 adopted in December last year, requested the Secretary-General to submit the next biennial report on the status of the treaty body system in January 2020, ahead of the review, Mrs. Andrijasevic-Boko reminded. The Secretary-General therefore needed to finalize the report by September, with input from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and would be developing its contours by the end of June. The Office had shared a note verbale requesting input from States and other stakeholders on the implementation of General Assembly Resolution 62/268 and the 2020 review, the deadline for which had been extended to 30 April 2019.
The Secretary-General’s report would highlight some of the lessons learned from the implementation of Resolution 68/268, as well as address some of the procedures and activities that had not been adequately funded, or for which resources had been underestimated or absent from the formula. This included resources for the timely treatment of individual complaints and inter-State communications, amongst others. She expressed hope that this process’s outcome would allow the system to function properly and make a difference where it mattered most, namely at the national level, for rights holders. At the same time, the Office was mindful that they were operating in a challenging environment that required creativity and resourcefulness to overcome obstacles. She noted that the Committee had initiated a review of its methods of work to implement the recommendations of General Assembly Resolution 68/268 and those of the Meeting of Chairs. She encouraged Committee members to continue and to take into consideration the harmonization of the system as a whole as well as the specificity of each treaty body.
Mrs. Andrijasevic-Boko recalled that protecting persons and groups of persons from racial discrimination was one of the six pillars of the Office’s organizational management plan. Efforts were made across various divisions to achieve concrete results, such as capacity-building activities to help States comply with their reporting obligations to the Committee. This had contributed to the submission of reports by Niger and Senegal in March 2019. Benin and Fiji had also benefited from these activities and would hopefully report to the Committee in the near future. The Office was also conducting capacity-building activities in Angola. Concerning States parties to the Convention, she pointed out that on 11 March 2019, the Marshall Islands had acceded to the Convention, bringing the total number of States parties to 179.
The Committee had a tradition of partnering with bodies whose mandates were related to racial discrimination, Mrs. Andrijasevic-Boko added. The Committee’s scheduled meeting with the Group of Eminent Experts on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was yet another example of good practices. Further, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples appreciated the Committee’s collaboration under its new country engagement mandate. It also welcomed the Committee’s developing practice of proposing to relevant States to consider the assistance of the Expert Mechanism in implementing the rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked Mrs. Andrijasevic-Boko for all the work she had done for the Committee, and providing it with an update on the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights while reminding them of where the human rights struggle lay.
The Committee then adopted the session’s programme of work and revised agenda.
The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 24 April, at 10 a.m. when it will hold an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations concerning the situation in Andorra and Guatemala, whose reports will be considered by the Committee this week.

CERD/19/1E

24th april 2019; Meeting n. 2713th:
🇦🇩 Principality of Andorra,
Considerations of the Representatives:

Delegation of Principality of Andorra:
01. Mr Joan Forner,
Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Head of Delegation;
02.
Mrs. Marie Pagès,
Director of the Department for Educational Inspection and Quality, Ministry of Education and Higher Education;
03.
Mrs. Mireia Porras,
Head of the Gender-Equality Policies Service, Ministry of Social Affairs, Justice and Home Affairs;
04.
Mrs. Patrícia Quillacq,
Head of Unit of International Relations and Legal Cooperation, Ministry of Social Affairs, Justice and Home Affairs;
05.
Honourable Mrs. Canòlich Mingorance, Judge at the Criminal Court;
06.
Mrs. Florència Aleix,
Desk Officer for Multilateral Affairs in charge of the coordination of reports to human rights treaty bodies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

25th april 2019; Meeting n. 2714th:
🇦🇩 Principality of Andorra,
Considerations of the Representatives, Cont’d:

Delegation of Principality of Andorra:
01. Mr Joan Forner,
Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Head of Delegation;
02.
Mrs. Marie Pagès,
Director of the Department for Educational Inspection and Quality, Ministry of Education and Higher Education;
03.
Mrs. Mireia Porras,
Head of the Gender-Equality Policies Service, Ministry of Social Affairs, Justice and Home Affairs;
04.
Mrs. Patrícia Quillacq,
Head of Unit of International Relations and Legal Cooperation, Ministry of Social Affairs, Justice and Home Affairs;
05.
Honourable Mrs. Canòlich Mingorance, Judge at the Criminal Court;
06.
Mrs. Florència Aleix,
Desk Officer for Multilateral Affairs in charge of the coordination of reports to human rights treaty bodies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Introduction:
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined initial and second to sixth periodic report of Andorra on measures taken to implement the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Introducing the report, Joan Forner, Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, said Andorra had worked to develop legal and social instruments to prevent, address and punish crimes related to racial discrimination. The State had rolled out various activities in the fields of education and prevention. The first article of the Andorran Constitution stipulated that the State must respect and promote the principles of liberty, equality, justice and tolerance, as well as human rights and human dignity. Concerning the harmonization of the legislative and constitutional definitions of racial discrimination with that of the Convention, he recalled that article 6 of the Andorran Constitution established the absolute equality of people before the law rather than defined racial discrimination. The legal hierarchy established in the Constitution gave primacy to international legislation. Therefore, article 1 of the Convention had a supra-legal status and thus guided the implementation of all laws on racial discrimination as well as the way in which the judges interpreted them.
During the dialogue, Committee Experts inquired about the legal framework that regulated the activities of civil society. They asked about cases where rights protected by the Convention were cited and protected by courts, and if the delegation could provide disaggregated data on racial discrimination, the number of final decisions handed down, as well as the number of pending cases. While noting that the report was submitted over 10 years late, Experts commended the delegation for the quality of the document. Additional information was requested on the law on equality and non-discrimination which was enacted on 21 March 2019. An Expert asked which institutions were responsible to receive complaints related to racism and racial discrimination, noting that the absence of complaints on racism did not mean that racism was non-existent. More information was requested about the education system, particularly as pertained to the private education institutions. On Andorra’s diversity of ethnic groups, an Expert asked if educational projects were designed on a “one size fits all” basis, or if some of them targeted specific groups and were tailored to address specific issues accordingly.
Bakari Sidiki Diaby, Committee Rapporteur for Andorra, thanked the delegation for its honesty and openness. Very few countries had ratified article 14 of the Convention, and the fact that Andorra was amongst them was commendable.
Mr. Forner, in his concluding remarks, thanked the Committee for the frank dialogue. The delegation would submit additional information in writing. The Government would continue to work to increase civil society’s involvement.
Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, said the delegation had been able to answer a great number of questions in great detail in a short period of time. The Committee looked forward to receiving Andorra’s next periodic report, as it was certain that it would reflect the dialogue that had just taken place.
The delegation of Andorra consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Justice and Home Affairs, the Criminal Court, and the Permanent Mission of Andorra to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will next meet in public today at 3 p.m. to consider the combined sixteenth and seventeenth report of Guatemala (CERD/C/GTM/16-17).
Report:
The Committee has before it the initial and second to sixth periodic report of Andorra (CERD/C/AND/1-6).
Presentation of the Report:
JOAN FORNER, Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, at the outset said that he wished to engage in a constructive dialogue with members of the Committee. While acknowledging that, following the ratification of the Convention in 2006, the initial report should have been submitted in 2007, he underscored that adhesion to human rights mechanisms, albeit indispensable, created a heavy workload for States parties. Andorra’s human resources were limited, and meeting all the reporting commitments sometimes proved extremely difficult. However, the fact that Andorra did not inform the Committee of its achievements did not mean that no efforts were made. Quite to the contrary, Andorra had worked to develop legal and social instruments to prevent, address and punish crimes related to racial discrimination. The State had rolled out various activities in the fields of education and prevention. The first article of the Andorran Constitution stipulated that the State must respect and promote the principles of liberty, equality, justice and tolerance, as well as human rights and human dignity, he recalled.
In June 2018, the Government had enacted a law which reversed the burden of proof in cases of racial discrimination – a significant step for the country, and yet another example of its willingness to follow all recommendations that sought to further human rights. Andorra had chosen the theme of democratic citizenship as the flagship of its presidency of the Council of Europe in 2012-2013. While there were cases of discrimination or racial insults, the Ombudsman had not received complaints in the past 21 years. In that regard, Andorra benefited from a serene atmosphere as regards its multicultural diversity. Andorra recognized the value of immigration, and did not question its multiculturalism. It had worked so that its values could be taught and shared through its education system.
Concerning the harmonization of the legislative and constitutional definitions of racial discrimination with that of the Convention, Mr. Forner recalled that article 6 of the Andorran Constitution established the absolute equality of people before the law rather than defined racial discrimination. The legal hierarchy established in the Constitution gave primacy to international legislation. Therefore, article 1 of the Convention had a supra-legal status and thus guided the implementation of all laws on racial discrimination as well as the way in which the judges interpreted them.
Mr. Forner underscored the recent enactment, on 21 March 2019, of the law on equality and non-discrimination. This law was the most recent example of the legislative branch’s work to elaborate on, and implement, the principle of equality enshrined in the Constitution. It provided a broad definition of non-discrimination in its first article, which it elaborated on in further details in following articles. It notably forbade discrimination based on nationality, or lack thereof; racial or ethnic origin; religion; convictions or philosophical, political union-related opinions; age; and sexual orientation, amongst others.
The review of the Andorran criminal code had allowed the addition of provisions that could be found in article 4(b) of the Convention. The criminal code enabled authorities to take action with measures like those referred to in article 4(b) of the Convention against any person responsible for propaganda activities seeking to stoke hate or spread discriminatory, racist, supremacist, or negationist opinions. Further, the Ombudsman’s role had been broadened to combat racism, notably by providing information and support to victims. It was now entrusted with the responsibility to receive, manage, follow-up and act on complaints.
Andorra endeavoured to respect its international commitments and was very keen to foster prevention through education, Mr. Forner concluded.
Questions by Committee Experts:
BAKARI SIDIKI DIABY, Committee Rapporteur for Andorra, recalled that Andorra’s report was submitted 12 years after it was due. And yet, Andorra had submitted reports to other treaty bodies in the meanwhile. He asked what the Government was doing to foster diversity? He also asked for additional information about awareness-raising campaigns related to the Convention. Who were the people involved in conducting these campaigns and who did they target?
Andorra had committed to creating a national human rights institution in 2015. What steps had been taken to meet that commitment? What would this national human rights institution look like? He inquired about the legal framework that regulated the activities of civil society. He asked about cases where rights protected by the Convention were cited and protected by courts.
The Rapporteur asked the delegation to provide disaggregated data on racial discrimination, the number of final decisions handed down by the courts or the human rights institution, as well as the number of pending cases. Had the Government carried out surveys on perception of, and trust in, its institutions?
Concerning stateless persons or persons at risk of becoming stateless, he asked if Andorra was considering the adoption of laws and policies to protect them. What had the Government done to improve the working conditions of migrant workers?
Concerning the media, the Rapporteur asked for figures on violations of the code of conduct of journalists that were related to discrimination. How were these violations addressed? He also asked if there was an authority regulating the media. Were there measures in place to prevent and suppress hate speech online and on social media platforms?
Another Expert, while noting that the report was submitted over 10 years late, commended the delegation for the quality of the document. In every country, there were forms of discrimination manifested on a daily basis. Could the delegation provide additional information on the law on equality and non-discrimination which was enacted on 21 March 2019? He inquired about children born to foreigners in Andorra. Could they remain aliens and be prevented from becoming nationals of Andorra? Recalling that the Roma were discriminated against throughout Europe, he asked the delegation for more information on their situation in Andorra.
Another Expert asked which institutions were responsible to receive complaints related to racism and racial discrimination. The absence of complaints on racism did not mean that racism was non-existent. Pointing out that there was a migrant population in Andorra, he inquired about their situation in the country.
Concerning the law on equality and non-discrimination, another Expert asked the delegation to describe the Government’s mind set at the time of its adoption. What did the Government seek to achieve with this law? She also asked for further information on the education system, particularly as pertained to the private education institutions. It was important for the Committee to meet with Andorran representatives on a regular basis, she stressed, emphasizing the importance of an ongoing dialogue.
An Expert, underscoring the linkage between climate change and other phenomena such as migration, asked the delegation to comment on the State’s responsibility and role in that regard. Did Andorra have any policy that took into account the International Decade of People of African Descent?
On Andorra’s diversity of ethnic groups, an Expert asked if the educational projects were designed on a “one size fits all” basis. Did some of them target specific groups? Were some of them tailored to address specific issues accordingly? Concerning economic and social rights, she asked if there were any segments of the population that worked in the lower levels of the tourism and service industry.
Recalling that there were two levels of jurisdiction in Andorra, an Expert asked about the constituency of the High Council. He also inquired about the number of courts and judges.
In a similar vein, an Expert asked for more information on the members of the Supreme Council. Did the delegation have any statistics on the representation of minorities in Parliament and in Government?
Another Expert noted the existence of three education systems, one in French, one in Catalan and another in Spanish. Could all three be accessed free of charge? Were they all public?
Replies by the Delegation:
JOAN FORNER, Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, recalled that Andorra was a small country and that there had not been any registered cases of racial discrimination. He said that adhering to the Convention and receiving recommendations was helpful. Mobilizing civil society was difficult, because it was not very well organized. He assured the Committee that things were changing slowly but surely. Someone had been appointed to coordinate the submission of human rights reports. At first, Andorra had not realized what a great asset its education system was. Andorra was a village with the responsibilities and obligations of a big country, he added.
The delegation said the High Council was independent; it was comprised of five judges who served six-year terms. On the perception of the judiciary, it was difficult to analyze. The perception of corruption amongst judges was favourable, according to a recent review. There was public trust in the judicial system in Andorra, at levels that were above the European average. There was a free legal consultation service which could be accessed on a walk-in basis. Legal aid was offered to people in unfavourable financial situations. Regardless of the nationality, detainees benefitted from access to lawyers, which were paid for by the State if the detainee could not afford the legal fees. If an issue related to racial discrimination was brought to the attention of judges, they had to refer it to the criminal sphere. When there was a discriminatory component to a crime, it was considered aggravated. And both the legislation on non-discrimination and the laws relevant to the crime per se were applied in that context.
A Committee Expert asked for information about persons in prison, and what was the breakdown of the incarcerated population.
The delegation replied that about 50 per cent of the prison population was Andorran, but given that there were only 80 inmates, approximately, the makeup could vary significantly if an arrest was made.
On education, the delegation explained that a specialized education law dating from 1993 established coexistence as a core value of the education system. International agreements regulated the three education systems, as did international conventions. Concerning the curricula, there were frameworks that bound all three systems. The systems were public, and each family could choose the system they preferred for their child, without any restriction. Likewise, newcomers could also choose which education system their child would join. Out of the 220 children with disabilities in Andorra, 209 went to regular schools. Three million euros were earmarked to ensure their proper integration in the regular education system. In French-language and Spanish-language schools, there were Catalan classes as well as Andorran history classes, as the Government believed that this fostered cohesion.
A Committee Expert asked if pupils learned about the history of France and Spain.
The delegation responded that the curricula in French-language and Spanish-language schools were based on that of France and Spain, respectively. An Andorran component complemented these curricula.
The Government had put in place a cross-cutting programme to combat gender-based violence and all forms of violence, as well as discrimination against all vulnerable groups. The Equality Service had created a white paper that led to a law on those issues. The Service sought to raise awareness and ensure that Andorrans understood the need for a paradigm shift regarding inequalities. It covered issues faced by women, but also persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, and the elderly, amongst others. This work was conducted in collaboration with associations such as the Red Cross. In addition, an Observatory on Inequalities had been created and a comprehensive law on the protection of children had been enacted.
JOAN FORNER, Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, recalled that the objective of the interactive dialogue was to improve Andorra’s human rights performance. He stressed that the delegation was looking forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations.
The delegation said that Andorra had created an Equality Service to address the needs of people who had been victims of discrimination. The nature of their grievance was noted and a jurist was appointed to support them. They were also offered psychological support. The Equality Service also organized prevention campaigns.
A white paper on equality had been published in Andorra by the Government. Civil society organizations and other stakeholders had been involved in the drafting process. Surveys had been conducted to draw up a map of the situation, and efforts had been made to ensure the proper representation of vulnerable groups. A thorough consultation process with civil society had been put in place, even though some of the organizations that were consulted considered themselves as cultural organizations rather than service providers. The white paper on equality had also been built on the basis of an online survey, which indicated that a majority of people thought that Andorra did not have an adequate system to address racial discrimination. This survey had been conducted before the adoption of the March 2019 law on equal treatment and non-discrimination, which was in part inspired by its results. The establishment of an Observatory on Equality was one of the priorities that stemmed from the white paper.
Concerning Andorran labour law, the delegation reiterated that a standards hierarchy was in place, which established the primacy of the Constitution and international law. Andorra abided by the standards created by organizations such as the International Labour Organization. The head of the Andorran Labour Directorate said it had not received any complaints related to racial discrimination. Turning to statistical data on discrimination, Andorra did not compile statistics based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, origin, etc., as the Government believed that gathering such data could in fact lead to discrimination.
On human trafficking, the delegation said there had only been one case in recent years, which involved prostitutes and a pimp, who were all Ukrainian nationals. Following the adoption of a law, the country had adopted a protocol which would guide the way in which human trafficking instances were addressed, so as to offer victims the appropriate assistance. The Ministry of the Interior determined whether or not a person should be considered a victim of human trafficking. Efforts were made to disseminate information on the governmental services and policies related to human trafficking.
Turning to the situation of Roma, the delegation said there were no Roma living in Andorra, and there had been no reports of any Roma passing through the country. They had no reason to go to Andorra; it was more advantageous for them to stay in the Schengen area. There were people who could be considered of gypsy origin. They were not, however, considered vulnerable by the Government, as they themselves did not consider themselves vulnerable and did not necessarily identify as gypsies. The Andorran statistics office had not conducted any statistical investigations on religious affiliations.
While civil society was not very well organized to work on human rights issues, there were numerous associations in Andorra. There was a qualified law on association in Andorra, which allowed any Andorran national or any person residing in Andorra to create an association. This was the legal framework that regulated civil society. The Andorran system for managing migration was based on quotas, for seasonal workers, for instance.
To acquire nationality in Andorra, one must have been born there, reside in the country for 20 years, or marry an Andorran. In the past three years, 238 people had appeared before the nationality commission to obtain the Andorran nationality, and 24 of them saw their application rejected. This denial was due to technical, precise reasons. Applicants had to demonstrate a mastery of official languages as well as sufficient knowledge of the country’s history. These were the only two criteria that the commission could use to deny the Andorran nationality to eligible candidates.
On the arrival of aliens and asylum seekers, the delegation stressed that Andorra was not a member of the European Union nor was it part of the Schengen area. It did not have an airport. For these reasons, there were numerous technical issues specific to Andorra that had to be taken into consideration when discussing these topics.
JOAN FORNER, Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, said all Andorran laws took into consideration racial discrimination issues. For instance, article 4 of the Labour Code referred to racial discrimination, and so did the qualified law on childhood and adolescence. Concerning the Office of the Ombudsperson, he acknowledged that its powers should be increased. Campaigns should be organized to promote it. The latest person to be appointed ombudsperson was an extremely well-known figure and his powers had been extended. Since 2017, his office has been able to cover racial discrimination, but no complaints related to racial discrimination had been received.
Mr. Forner said that Andorra only recently started raising taxes, and this had impacted its international cooperation policies. Andorra had started to contribute financially to international cooperation programmes. The delegation said Andorra provided funding for projects rolled-out in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund in Congo, for instance. Andorra also funded projects in Guatemala. Further, the Government sought to raise awareness on diversity and multiculturalism. It allocated funds to non-governmental organizations in Andorra to that end.
Mr. Forner, while acknowledging that the ability to speak Catalan was an advantage for job seekers in Andorra, said that it was by no means absolutely necessary. There were, for instance, several seasonal workers from Argentina who worked in ski resorts who did not speak Catalan. The Andorran Ministry of Culture offered Catalan lessons free of charge, he recalled.
The delegation explained that, in 2008, a centre had been created to offer cross-cutting services to refugees. The Government had taken steps to welcome refugee families, by notably offering them social security and language lessons. The refugee families had been able to choose which of the three Andorran education systems their children would attend.
Concerning democratic citizenship, Andorra had developed a European reference framework to provide skills and knowledge to people who wished to participate fully in democratic and open societies. The programme sought to encourage the acquisition of skills, such as multilingualism, and foster attitudes such as openness to different worldviews. It also developed a critical understanding of the world, human rights, media, the economy and sustainable development. There were multicultural days organized in schools. In order to obtain their baccalauréat, pupils had to complete a community project, such as teaching less privileged children to play a musical instrument.
Questions by Committee Experts:
A Committee Expert asked for clarification regarding the process through which foreigners could acquire Andorran citizenship.
BAKARI SIDIKI DIABY, Committee Rapporteur for Andorra, commended the delegation for the thoroughness of its answers. He looked forward to receiving more detailed responses in writing.
A Committee Expert encouraged the delegation to think creatively about its participation in the International Decade for People of African Descent. The Decade was created to promote and raise awareness about the heritage and contribution of people of African descent. Taking part in it would be beneficial, even if there were few of them in Andorra. The same went, she said, for the Roma: it would be useful to educate the Andorran population about Roma’s contribution to European culture.
Responses by the Delegation:
JOAN FORNER, Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, thanked the Expert for her suggestions and said the Government would take them into consideration. It could partner with Andorran associations to that end.
On citizenship, the delegation assured that any person that had been a resident in Andorra for 20 years could ask for citizenship. The only grounds for denial were insufficient mastery of Catalan and insufficient knowledge of Andorran geography, institutions and history.
Turning to the rights, freedom and security issues, the delegation pointed out that article 5 of the Constitution replicated provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. The safety and security of a person could never be nullified; only a crime or a disaster could justify that a person’s freedom of movement be curtailed.
Questions by Committee Experts:
A Committee Expert commended the creation of an Observatory on Equality. Could the delegation provide more information on the statistical investigations on equality? What was Andorra doing to follow up on the findings?
NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, asked whether international law prevailed over constitutional law in Andorra. Was the Convention incorporated in constitutional law? Was the definition of racial discrimination embodied in the Andorran criminal code? He asked the delegation to comment on the rise of populism, and its effects on Andorran and European politics. Populist thought would reject the premise of article 4 of the Convention, he stated.
Responses by the Delegation:
JOAN FORNER, Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, said article 4 of the Convention was transposed in the criminal code. Populism was a matter of great concern for Andorra and European countries. The Government had been able to put in place mechanisms to undercut hate speech, but remained vigilant and acted with caution. In that context, its promotion of democratic citizenship through education reflected a long-term vision. “The children of today are the adults of tomorrow,” he added.
The delegation explained that persons could benefit from legal advice through a programme that was distinct from legal aid. This programme offered free and anonymous access to legal advice. Although there had not been any rulings pertaining to racial discrimination, the Government knew it had to be prepared for that possibility.
Concluding Remarks:
BAKARI SIDIKI DIABY, Committee Rapporteur for Andorra, thanked the delegation for its honesty and openness. Very few countries had ratified article 14 of the Convention, and the fact that Andorra was amongst them was commendable.
JOAN FORNER, Director of the Department for Bilateral and Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, in his concluding remarks, thanked the Committee for the frank dialogue. The delegation would submit additional information in writing. The Government would continue to work to increase civil society’s involvement.
NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, said the delegation had been able to answer a great number of questions in great detail in a short period of time. The Committee looked forward to receiving Andorra’s next periodic report, as it was certain that it would reflect the dialogue that had just taken place.

CERD/19/3E

25th april 2019; Meeting n. 2715th:
🇬🇹 Guatemala,
Considerations of the Representatives:

Delegation of Guatemala:
01. Licda. Miriam Josefina Domínguez Sebastián,
Comisionada Coordinadora de la Comisión Presidencial contra la Discriminación y el Racismo contra los Pueblos Indígenas en Guatemala (CODISRA), Jefe de Delegación;
02. Embajadora Carla María Rodríguez Mancia,
Representante Permanente, Misión Permanente de Guatemala ante las Naciones Unidas y otras Organizaciones con sede en Ginebra, Suiza;
03. Sra. Dina Josefina Ochoa Escribá,
Magistrada de la Corte de Constitucionalidad;
04. Sr. Franscisco Tambriz y Tambriz,
Diputado del Congreso de la República
05. Sr. Elder Súchite Vargas,
Ministro de Cultura y Deportes;
06. Sra. Lourdes Xitumul Piox, Secretaria de la Paz;
07. Sr. Juan Carlos Carías Estrada,
Secretario de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional;
08. Sr. Yury Giovanni Arana Castillo,
Secretario de Asuntos Agrarios;
09. Dr. Jorge Luis Borrayo Reyes,
Presidente de la Comisión Presidencial Coordinadora de la Política del Ejecutivo en Materia de Derechos Humanos (COPREDEH);
10. Sr. Geovany Daniel Noriega Salazar,
Viceministro de Prevision Social y Empleo, Ministerio de Trabajo y Previsión Social;
11. Sr. Paolo Rubén Similox Valiente,
Viceministro de Política, Planificación y Evaluación, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social;
12. Sr. Rony Eulalio López Contreras,
Secretario General del Ministerio Público;
13. Sr. Sergio Alejandro Flores Cruz,
Coordinador y Director Ejecutivo de la Comisión Presidencial de Diálogo;
14. Sra. Gloria Marina Salvador Ajcuc,
Comisionada de la CODISRA;
15. Sra. Olivia Nineth Núñez Allen,
Comisionada de la CODISRA;
16. Sra. Nydia Lissette Arévalo Flores de Corzantes,
Directora General del Instituto de la Defensa Pública Penal;
17. Sra. Paola Karina Lux Sacbajá de Botzotz,
Defensora de la Mujer Indígena (DEMI);
18. Sr. José Dionicio Canahuí Rodríguez,
Profesional responsable de informes internacionales de la CODISRA;
19. Lic. William Oswaldo Ramírez Quiñónez,
Director de lnvestigación e lnformes de la COPREDEH;
20. Sr. Ernesto Salvador Flores Jerez,
Director de Desarrollo Cultural y Fortalecimiento de las Culturas, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes;
21. Sra. Marta Juana Tojín,
Coordinadora de Enfoque Intercultural, lnstituto de la Defensa Pública Penal;
22. Sr. Gerardo Chavajay,
Coordinador de la Unidad de Pueblos Indígena,s Secretaría de Asuntos Agrarios;
23. Licda. María Jose del Águila Castillo,
Ministra Consejera, Misión Permanente de Guatemala ante la Oficina de las Naciones Unidas y otras Organizaciones Internacionales con sede en Ginebra, Suiza;
24. Sr. Ángel Chan,
Subdirector de Pueblos Indígenas del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores;
25. Licda. Jennyffer Hada Regina Luján Farfán,
Asesora Profesional del Despacho Superior, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social;
26. Sra. Mareny Rosana Mérida de Tello,
Asesora de la Secretaría de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional;
27. Lic. Luis Erick Gudiel Pineda,
Primer Secretario, Misión Permanente de Guatemala ante la Oficina de la Naciones Unidas y otras Organizaciones Internacionales con sede en Ginebra, Suiza;
28. Sr. Edwin Domingo Roquel Cali,
Consejero del Fondo de Desarollo Indígena Guatemalteco (FODIGUA);
29. Sra. Paulina Yojcom Ujpan de Chavajay,
Consejera del Fondo de Desarollo Indígena Guatemalteco (FODIGUA);
30. Sra. Mariela Alejandra Morataya Contreras,
Delegada de Planificación y Modernización Institucional, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes;
31. Sr. Pedro Orlando Monterroso Canastuj,
Dirección de Desarollo Cultural y Fortalecimiento de las Culturas, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes;
32. Sr. Jesús Gómez Gómez,
Experto temático de la Comisión Presidencial de Diálogo;
33. Sra. Gladis Elena Galicia Argueta,
Experta temática de la Comisión Presidencial de Diálogo.

26th april 2019; Meeting n. 2716th:
🇬🇹 Guatemala,
Considerations of the Representatives, Cont’d:

Delegation of Guatemala:
01. Licda. Miriam Josefina Domínguez Sebastián,
Comisionada Coordinadora de la Comisión Presidencial contra la Discriminación y el Racismo contra los Pueblos Indígenas en Guatemala (CODISRA), Jefe de Delegación;
02. Embajadora Carla María Rodríguez Mancia,
Representante Permanente, Misión Permanente de Guatemala ante las Naciones Unidas y otras Organizaciones con sede en Ginebra, Suiza;
03. Sra. Dina Josefina Ochoa Escribá,
Magistrada de la Corte de Constitucionalidad;
04. Sr. Franscisco Tambriz y Tambriz,
Diputado del Congreso de la República
05. Sr. Elder Súchite Vargas,
Ministro de Cultura y Deportes;
06. Sra. Lourdes Xitumul Piox, Secretaria de la Paz;
07. Sr. Juan Carlos Carías Estrada,
Secretario de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional;
08. Sr. Yury Giovanni Arana Castillo,
Secretario de Asuntos Agrarios;
09. Dr. Jorge Luis Borrayo Reyes,
Presidente de la Comisión Presidencial Coordinadora de la Política del Ejecutivo en Materia de Derechos Humanos (COPREDEH);
10. Sr. Geovany Daniel Noriega Salazar,
Viceministro de Prevision Social y Empleo, Ministerio de Trabajo y Previsión Social;
11. Sr. Paolo Rubén Similox Valiente,
Viceministro de Política, Planificación y Evaluación, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social;
12. Sr. Rony Eulalio López Contreras,
Secretario General del Ministerio Público;
13. Sr. Sergio Alejandro Flores Cruz,
Coordinador y Director Ejecutivo de la Comisión Presidencial de Diálogo;
14. Sra. Gloria Marina Salvador Ajcuc,
Comisionada de la CODISRA;
15. Sra. Olivia Nineth Núñez Allen,
Comisionada de la CODISRA;
16. Sra. Nydia Lissette Arévalo Flores de Corzantes,
Directora General del Instituto de la Defensa Pública Penal;
17. Sra. Paola Karina Lux Sacbajá de Botzotz,
Defensora de la Mujer Indígena (DEMI);
18. Sr. José Dionicio Canahuí Rodríguez,
Profesional responsable de informes internacionales de la CODISRA;
19. Lic. William Oswaldo Ramírez Quiñónez,
Director de lnvestigación e lnformes de la COPREDEH;
20. Sr. Ernesto Salvador Flores Jerez,
Director de Desarrollo Cultural y Fortalecimiento de las Culturas, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes;
21. Sra. Marta Juana Tojín,
Coordinadora de Enfoque Intercultural, lnstituto de la Defensa Pública Penal;
22. Sr. Gerardo Chavajay,
Coordinador de la Unidad de Pueblos Indígena,s Secretaría de Asuntos Agrarios;
23. Licda. María Jose del Águila Castillo,
Ministra Consejera, Misión Permanente de Guatemala ante la Oficina de las Naciones Unidas y otras Organizaciones Internacionales con sede en Ginebra, Suiza;
24. Sr. Ángel Chan,
Subdirector de Pueblos Indígenas del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores;
25. Licda. Jennyffer Hada Regina Luján Farfán,
Asesora Profesional del Despacho Superior, Ministerio de Desarrollo Social;
26. Sra. Mareny Rosana Mérida de Tello,
Asesora de la Secretaría de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional;
27. Lic. Luis Erick Gudiel Pineda,
Primer Secretario, Misión Permanente de Guatemala ante la Oficina de la Naciones Unidas y otras Organizaciones Internacionales con sede en Ginebra, Suiza;
28. Sr. Edwin Domingo Roquel Cali,
Consejero del Fondo de Desarollo Indígena Guatemalteco (FODIGUA);
29. Sra. Paulina Yojcom Ujpan de Chavajay,
Consejera del Fondo de Desarollo Indígena Guatemalteco (FODIGUA);
30. Sra. Mariela Alejandra Morataya Contreras,
Delegada de Planificación y Modernización Institucional, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes;
31. Sr. Pedro Orlando Monterroso Canastuj,
Dirección de Desarollo Cultural y Fortalecimiento de las Culturas, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes;
32. Sr. Jesús Gómez Gómez,
Experto temático de la Comisión Presidencial de Diálogo;
33. Sra. Gladis Elena Galicia Argueta,
Experta temática de la Comisión Presidencial de Diálogo.

Introduction:
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined sixteenth and seventeenth periodic report of Guatemala on measures taken to implement the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Introducing the report, Miriam Josefina Domínguez Sebastián, Commissioner and Co-ordinator of the Presidential Commission on Racism and Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala, said that the Commission was created in 2002, as a result of the Peace Accords, notably the Accord on Indigenous Peoples’ Identity and Rights. Regarding the demography of Guatemala, the Government had undertaken a census, and all processes put in place to that end placed a high priority on gender. The Government was editing and digitizing the data and hoped to make public the first results in September 2019. The human right to self-identification was promoted throughout the census, as attested by the inclusion of the option “Person of African descent/Creole/Afro-mixed-race” for the first time in census forms. In a recent legal case brought before the Constitutional Court, a ruling upheld the right of indigenous peoples to participate in the elaboration, implementation and evaluation of development plans – whether they were economic, social or cultural – that could affect them directly. The court’s decision also reaffirmed the need to respect the integrity of indigenous peoples’ values, practices and institutions.
At the beginning of the dialogue, Committee Experts said that problems remained and that Guatemala had experienced setbacks, unfortunately, despite the progress achieved. The report’s methodology had improved: there was an order to it, and it addressed the Committee’s concerns. Pointing that the Government had stated that all judicial decisions handed down in Guatemala adhered to the Convention, Experts asked for further details and examples. The Committee sought to understand the extent to which the Convention and the Constitution were in harmony. While it was obvious that Guatemala had achieved significant progress on the legislative front, information provided by civil society organizations indicated a lack of strong institutions to address their concerns and implement the relevant laws. How did the Government intend to strengthen its institutions to better serve the vulnerable segments of its population and address their concerns? Were law enforcement officials trained to ensure that indigenous groups were allowed to demonstrate without being silenced? How were Afro descendant persons represented in the media? An Expert also inquired about the measures put in place by the Government to combat hate speech.
Alexei S. Avtonomov, Committee Rapporteur for Guatemala, in concluding remarks, said the dialogue had been constructive and showed Guatemala’s commitment to human rights in general and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in particular. Regarding the conflicts that had arisen around the exploitation of natural resources, the Committee had to consider the State’s action in that matter. He called for better protection measures that took into consideration cultural realities. Progress was also needed in matters of indigenous justice; the Government should seek to improve these communities’ daily lives.
Mrs. Domínguez Sebastián, in her concluding remarks, welcomed all the opinions voiced and comments made as part of the dialogue. While acknowledging that Guatemala continued to face major challenges, she said that the delegation’s presence should be seen as a reiteration of the country’s commitment to human rights, notably those of indigenous peoples and Afro descendant persons. The past six hours of dialogue had been a great learning opportunity. She assured the Committee that its concluding observations would be useful for the State.
Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for its availability and its openness. He expressed admiration for the noble peoples of Guatemala. He commended the delegation for showing willingness to answer all the questions put forward by the Committee.
The delegation of Guatemala consisted of representatives of the Presidential Commission on Racism and Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala, the Constitutional Court, the Congress of the Republic, the Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Peace Secretariat, the Agricultural Affairs Secretariat, the Presidential Commission on Executive Policies on Human Rights, the Ministry of Labour and Social Planning, the Office of the Defender of Women, the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of External Relations, the Indigenous Development Fund of Guatemala, and the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will next meet in public on Monday, 29 April 2019 at 10 a.m. for an informal meeting with non-governmental organizations to discuss the situation in Hungary, Lithuania and Zambia, whose reports will be reviewed by the Committee next week.
Report:
The Committee has before it the combined sixteenth and seventeenth periodic report of Guatemala (CERD/C/GTM/16-17).
Presentation of the Report:
MIRIAM JOSEFINA DOMÍNGUEZ SEBASTIÁN, Commissioner and Co-ordinator of the Presidential Commission on Racism and Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala, said the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was the most important instrument against racial discrimination. The Presidential Commission on Racism and Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala was created in 2002 and stemmed from the Peace Accords, notably the Accord on Indigenous Peoples’ Identity and Rights. Regarding the demography of Guatemala, the Government had undertaken a census, and all processes put in place to that end placed a high priority on gender. The human right to self-identification was promoted throughout the census, as attested by the inclusion of the option “Person of African descent/Creole/Afro-mixed-race” for the first time in census forms. The Government was editing and digitizing the data and hoped to make public the first results in September 2019.
The Office for the Defence of Indigenous Women had reached out to 8,643 indigenous women in 2018. The Government of Guatemala had recently created a new committee that focused on social development, which was mandated to coordinate, elaborate and manage the national development plan K’atun Nuestra Guatemala 2032. This committee was comprised of 13 ministries and five secretariats, and was chaired by the Vice-President of the Republic and coordinated by the Ministry of Social Development.
In a recent legal case brought before the Constitutional Court, a ruling upheld the right of indigenous peoples to participate in the elaboration, implementation and evaluation of development plans, be they economic, social or cultural, that could affect them directly. The Constitutional Court’s decision also reaffirmed the need to respect the integrity of indigenous peoples’ values, practices and institutions. Regarding the progress made in complying with the Constitutional Court’s decisions, she said numerous consultations with indigenous peoples had taken place. For instance, consultations had taken place with the Maya Ixil communities of San Juan Cotzal since in 2016 and they had led to over 18 operative agreements.
In accordance with the law on the urban and rural development councils, the Government promoted the organization of assemblies to elect representatives of indigenous peoples to Departmental Development Councils. Between 2013 and 2017, representatives and substitute representatives were elected through 117 elections. In 2018, 1,395 persons took part in 30 assemblies. Regarding the situation of indigenous women, she said that between 2017 and 2019, 492 sentences were handed down in matters relating to violence against women. The Supreme Court of Justice approved in 2016 a protocol on the provision of support to indigenous women to ensure their access to justice, as well as a protocol on the provision of care to women who had been victims of violence. The National Office of Women promoted legislative measures to ensure that female indigenous domestic workers enjoyed just and satisfying working conditions. This had led to the examination of a draft bill by the Guatemalan Congress, which was in the second reading phase. The Government had launched self-identification campaigns in the context of the twelfth census, she added.
Another member of the delegation said that the Constitutional Court enjoyed specific powers that it exercised independently from other public institutions. It had resolved significant legal disputes, notably some pertaining to indigenous issues. It had recognized the importance of, and promoted, legal pluralism, notably by acknowledging indigenous legal institutions, effectively implementing international human rights standards in the process. Insufficient knowledge about the indigenous legal institutions could generate social unrest and impede governance. The Constitutional Court found that it was necessary to establish legal pluralism, notably by providing appropriate resources to indigenous judicial institutions. It was problematic that judges ignored the indigenous judicial system when trying indigenous persons. Jurisprudence established the right to consultation of indigenous peoples, she added.
Questions by Committee Experts:
ALEXEI S. AVTONOMOV, Committee Rapporteur for Guatemala, said that outstanding problems remained and Guatemala had unfortunately experienced setbacks, despite the progress achieved. It was important to note that Guatemala had usually been timely in submitting its periodic reports. Further, the report’s methodology had improved: there was an order to it, and it addressed the Committee’s concerns. Noting that the Government had stated that all judicial decisions handed down in Guatemala adhered to the Convention, he asked for further details and examples. The Committee sought to understand the extent to which the Convention and the Constitution of Guatemala were in harmony.
The Rapporteur also requested information on commitments made by the Government regarding the rights of indigenous peoples. Were indigenous peoples and their representatives involved in the efforts deployed to meet these commitments? The Committee took note of the Government’s 2015-2019 plan on public prosecution, which sought to consolidate relations with indigenous communities. He asked who interpreted indigenous customary laws. Did the Government invite people with knowledge of customary legal norms to take part in their interpretation to ensure they were properly implemented?
In the palm oil plantations, there were cases of exploitation which amounted to forced labour according to information received by the Committee. As Guatemala was party to many International Labour Organization conventions, the Rapporteur asked for information about labour inspections in the farming sectors, in particular in areas mostly populated by indigenous persons.
The delegation was asked to comment on restricted access for labour inspectors to work sites. How did the delegation explain the discrepancy between the amended labour code and the International Labour Organization convention pertaining to labour inspections? Turning to the situation of children of indigenous communities, Mr. Avtonomov asked how the Government protected them from multiple forms of discrimination.
It was important for media outlets to report in indigenous languages to ensure that indigenous persons were fully aware of their rights, the Rapporteur said. What type of regulation was in place in that regard? The Committee looked forward to examining the results of the census.
The delegation said the Constitutional Court had ruled on specific elements related to healthcare in a culturally relevant approach, Mr. Avtonomov said. It had said, notably, that relevant administrative bodies should be able to provide appropriate and culturally relevant services to indigenous women.
Another Expert said that the presence of a representative of the Constitutional Court in the room was significant and indicated that the country had made great progress down the right track. The policy being followed in the country gave rise to great hope. In this regard, it would be helpful to obtain more information on the role of the Constitutional Court in the elaboration of case law. Regarding the legislative initiative seeking to regulate the right to prior consultation, he asked if they had been put together following a consultation. If so, who had been consulted and how?
GUN KUT, Committee Rapporteur for Follow-up to Concluding Observations, commended the State party for its timely submission of reports. The Committee needed more information on paragraph 68 and the State party’s declaration to the effect that political will to tackle racial discrimination was still lacking in Guatemala.
Another Expert drew the delegation’s attention to the occurrence of hate crimes against people due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. In that regard, the draft bill 52/72 was concerning. At face value, it violated the rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He asked the delegation to comment on this bill. What policies had the Government adopted to combat discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation?
Another Expert asked about indigenous persons working in the informal sector. Which provisions of the labour code protected them?
Were law enforcement officials trained to ensure that indigenous groups were allowed to demonstrate without being silenced? How were Afro descendant persons represented in the media? He also inquired about the measures put in place by the Government to combat hate speech. On agricultural workers, how active were the labour inspectors?
Had the bill mentioned in paragraph 14 of the report become a law, asked another Expert? While it was obvious that Guatemala had achieved significant progress on the legislative front, the information provided by civil society organizations indicated a lack of strong institutions to implement the relevant laws and address their concerns. It should not be necessary for the Committee to echo the civil society’s grievances for them to be addressed by the Government. How did the Government intend to strengthen its institutions to better serve the vulnerable segments of its population and address their concerns?
Another Expert asked for clarification regarding the primacy of international treaties over domestic legislation, including the Constitution.
Replies by the Delegation:
The delegation provided information on the work of Guatemala’s Congress to combat racial discrimination. There were 15 indigenous members of Parliament in Guatemala, one of whom was a woman. Congress was considering or had endorsed various legislative initiatives aiming to thwart discrimination; acknowledge the existence of the Afro descendant Creole people; foster food security in indigenous communities; guarantee the right to correct or update information held by the Government in relation to the right to work; acknowledge indigenous customs, languages and dialects; bolster indigenous community radios; and fully respect the rights of indigenous peoples and people of African Descent.
Further, the Presidential Commission on Dialogue had strengthened the departmental commissions on conflict prevention, in which indigenous persons took part. It had also developed a national policy on dialogue seeking to foster a culture of dialogue, as well as of respect, inclusion and intercultural exchanges at the national level and throughout the country. This initiative received technical support from the United Nations Development Programme. The Commission on Dialogue had also conducted 431 dialogue processes addressing social conflicts that had had a significant impact, as well as five dialogue processes that were strategic in nature and which tackled social conflicts with a focus on structural and systemic factors. The latter processes were related to agro-industrial and electrical grid development projects, amongst others.
The delegation said that the Peace Secretariat had elaborated a Political Peace Agenda 2017-2026, aiming to analyse the implementation of the Peace Accords. The Agenda established 750 commitments, 439 of which had already been met. The Secretariat had also provided logistical and technical support to the National Women’s Forum.
The delegation assured that the Presidential Commission on Executive Policies on Human Rights took action with a human rights-based approach, in accordance with its internal guidelines, when dealing with cases of occupation and eviction. As soon as legal proceedings for an eviction were launched, the Commission on Executive Policies on Human Rights played a central role. Assistance was provided to the persons who had been evicted, aiming to preserve their lives, physical integrity and ensure their access to humanitarian care. On human rights defenders, since 2008, there had been a body tasked with the analysis of the attacks against them. Its mandate was extended by four years in 2018. Turning to the compensation of victims of the Chixoy hydroelectric dam project, the delegation said that Commission on Executive Policies on Human Rights was responsible for the implementation of the Chixoy policy, which was adopted in 2014. This policy notably provided for various infrastructure projects benefiting 33 communities that had been displaced. Over one thousand million quetzals had been allocated to these projects, which were carried out by 35 State institutions. The Commission on Executive Policies on Human Rights also oversaw a monitoring system that tracked the implementation of the provisions of international conventions. It reviewed all the recommendations made to Guatemala by the United Nations treaty bodies.
Since 2017, the Ministry of Sports and Culture had held regional workshops with representatives of indigenous communities to better understand the issues they were confronted with; elaborate proposals related to their development; and establish mechanisms to strengthen the civil engagement of indigenous peoples. In order to counter discrimination against indigenous women, training was provided to those women, aiming to foster their economic empowerment through culture as well as the recovery of ancestral knowledge. Between 2013 and 2018, over 5,000 indigenous women, young and old, had taken part in this training. In addition, to contribute to multicultural education, the Ministry of Sports and Culture had promoted the wider knowledge of Mayan, Garífuna and Xinka history, philosophy and medicine. Over 7,000 educational pamphlets had been distributed through public and private entities in that context. A country’s development was an ongoing process and the Ministry of Sports and Culture had carried out actions to alleviate the effects of discrimination and racism, the delegation stated.
Concerning the demography of Guatemala, the delegation reiterated that the Government was still editing census data, aiming to publish it in September. There had been an increase in the participation of Afro descendant and Garífuna people in elections. Measures had been put in place to combat intersectional and multiple discrimination affecting women, including Garífuna women. The Presidential Commission on Racism and Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala had partnered with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, amongst others, to increase the participation of Afro descendant and Garífuna women in political and public life and improve their access to education, work and health care services that were culturally relevant. Together with the Ministry of Economy, the Commission on Racism and Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala had also offered training to female entrepreneurs to foster economic projects that benefited local economies.
The delegation went on to describe the work carried out by the Ministry of Social Development to combat multi-sectoral discrimination. Between 2016 and 2019, more than 6,000 people, including people from the Maya, Xinka, Garífuna and Afro-mixed-race communities, benefitted from training it offered. Local and regional employment fairs were held to encourage private companies to hire persons with disabilities. Further, the General Labour Inspector had made changes to ensure that inspectors were jurists and spoke local languages. Inspections could be conducted jointly with the prosecution services to ensure that adequate action was taken, when children were found on work sites, for instance.
The Agricultural Affairs Secretariat acted as a mediator to settle disputes. It employed 225 persons, 21.33 per cent of whom were indigenous. The Secretariat used various tools to assist displaced persons through an institutional protocol that focused on human rights and humanitarian assistance. Between 2013 and 2019, it had received more than 3,000 cases involving over 1 million people, more than 800,000 of whom were from indigenous towns.
The delegation underscored the importance of combatting domestic violence against women. To that end, the Office of the Defender of Women undertook various actions with a community-based approach. Its strategy involved community participation, which was the most effective way to prevent violence against women at the local level. Aiming to restore women’s rights, the Office of the Defender of Women had processed 40,000 complaints filed by indigenous women between 2012 and 2018.
The Indigenous Development Fund of Guatemala had reviewed the National Policy on Indigenous Peoples and the reparations proposal related to the electric dam in Chixoy. Thanks to its 36 million quetzals budget for the year 2019, it would carry out various projects, including the creation of information technology centres in rural areas aiming to foster indigenous peoples’ access to technology, with a culturally relevant approach.
Article 46 of the Constitution established a general principle whereby, in matters pertaining to human rights, international treaties and conventions ratified by Guatemala superseded domestic laws.
The Constitutional Court ensured equal access to justice through a five-year plan and a policy that outlined segments of the population that required particular attention, namely children, adolescents, the elderly, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, migrants, persons suffering from chronic illnesses, and persons deprived of liberty. Guatemala had signed agreements to translate relevant legal documents in indigenous languages. The Constitution had already been translated in various indigenous languages.
Questions by Committee Experts:
ALEXEI S. AVTONOMOV, Committee Rapporteur for Guatemala, welcomed all the efforts made by Guatemala to overcome structural discrimination. Noting that a bill on human rights defenders was being examined by Congress, he stressed that these defenders played an important role. According to information received by the Committee, defenders of indigenous rights in particular were in a difficult situation, and some of them had been subjected to imprisonment. He asked the delegation to comment on this situation and provide information on the public policies that sought to address this issue.
Another Expert said that there were deliberate campaigns to defame human rights defenders, including on social media. He asked how the Government’s policies to combat this had been conceived and how they addressed the attacks against human rights defenders that had been witnessed on the ground. He said that the Canadian Supreme Court would decide by the end of the year whether Canadian courts had jurisdiction on matters related to actions carried out abroad by Canadian companies.
Replies by the Delegation:
The delegation said that accusations made by the authorities pursuant to actions carried out by human rights advocates on an individual basis complied fully with the Guatemalan legal framework. The State could not accept any allegation that it was in connivance with some sort of discriminatory policy. Any allegations that the State was pursuing discriminatory policies were unwarranted. When individual cases for which judicial proceedings were ongoing were cited, the State could not comment. If amongst the accused there were people labelled as human rights advocates, it did not mean that the State was targeting them. Quite to the contrary, the State was developing a policy to protect human rights defenders. Members of civil society had decided to withdraw from the process that should lead to the elaboration of this policy, but the State stood ready to resume talks. Article 46 of the Constitution testified to the goodwill of Guatemala and its willingness to develop and provide prosperity to its citizens. The country was still fragmented, and peace would not be achieved if part of the international community failed to see the full picture of its situation.
MIRIAM JOSEFINA DOMÍNGUEZ SEBASTIÁN, Commissioner and Co-ordinator of the Presidential Commission on Racism and Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala, said Guatemala was full of goodwill as the presence of various public institutions illustrated. The Government believed this dialogue would further fuel its efforts to fight against discrimination and racism.
Questions by Committee Experts:
An Expert asked what percentage of the State’s budget was earmarked for indigenous peoples. Could the State provide statistics on racial discrimination to the Committee, including those that had been referred to during the discussion on the work of the Office of the Defender of Women?
Another Expert said it would have been useful to hear from people that did not represent the Government, such as the Ombudsperson. On forced evictions, Afro descendant persons were regularly victims of forceful or violent evictions, which had had a major impact on communities. Were there measures in place to address this situation and provide appropriate remedy? He also asked how the two judicial systems of Guatemala and of the indigenous persons interacted, notably as regarded appeals.
Another Expert asked if the Garífunas of Guatemala were members of regional coalitions. Concerning bilingual education, what plans did the Government have to increase access and expand the grades covered?
Another Expert said that the contradicting accounts on the current state of affairs in Guatemala were baffling. While no one questioned the Government’s good faith, the impact that the activities outlined by the delegation had had was unclear. The Government should honestly and constructively evaluate its own policies. She asked for details about migration and the Roma population.
Replies by the Delegation:
The delegation said the Office of the Defender of Women did not receive complaints about racial discrimination, but rather provided legal advice to victims and helped them lodge complaints with the appropriate body. Concerning the Constitutional Court, it was a permanent court tasked with the preservation of the constitutional order. The full mandate holders had to present their decisions and inform their alternates every day. The alternates also sat every day.
On evictions, the situation was highly complex and required taking into consideration a large number of facts, the delegation added. For instance, some communities had settled in preserved areas, thus violating international agreements. Sometimes, people left of their own free will before the eviction orders were enforced. The situation at the Mexican border was complex. At no moment would the Government force people to move, but it provided options that would allow them to relocate.
Concluding Remarks:
ALEXEI S. AVTONOMOV, Committee Rapporteur for Guatemala, said the dialogue had been constructive and testified that Guatemala was committed to human rights in general and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in particular. He underlined the fact that the delegation was comprised of high-level representatives of all the branches of Government. Regarding the conflicts that had arisen around the exploitation of natural resources, the Committee had to consider the State’s action in that matter. He called for better protection measures that took into consideration cultural realities. Progress was also needed in matters of indigenous justice; the Government should seek to improve these communities’ daily lives.
MIRIAM JOSEFINA DOMÍNGUEZ SEBASTIÁN, Commissioner and Co-ordinator of the Presidential Commission on Racism and Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala, welcomed all the opinions voiced and comments made as part of the dialogue. While acknowledging that Guatemala continued to face major challenges, she said that the delegation’s presence should be seen as a reiteration of the country’s commitment to human rights, notably those of indigenous peoples and Afro descendant persons. The past six hours of dialogue had been a great learning opportunity. She assured the Committee that its concluding observations would be useful for the State.
NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for its availability and its openness. He expressed admiration for the noble peoples of Guatemala. He commended the delegation for showing willingness to answer all the questions put forward by the Committee.

CERD/19/4E

29th april 2019; Meeting n. 2719th:
🇭🇺 Hungary,
Considerations of the Representatives:

Delegation of Hungary:
01. Her Excellency Mr. Péter SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister, Head of Delegation;
02. Her Excellency Mr. Péter SZTÁRAY, State Secretary for Security Policy;
03. Dr. Ferenc DANCS, Deputy State Secretary for Migration Challenges;
04. Ms. Hajnalka HÁRSFALVAI, Deputy Head, Cabinet of the Minister;
05. Ms. Anna ATANASZOV, Head of Section, Press Department;
06. Mr. Péter Dimiter SZTOJCSEV, Adviser, Press Department;
07. Mr. Krisztián BARANYAI, Adviser, Cabinet of the Minister;
08. Dr. Áron RÓNASZÉKI, Adviser, Department of Int’l Organizations;
09. Mr. Edgár TAMÁS, Security Officer;
10. Mr. Balázs FRIDRICH, Security Officer.

30th april 2019; Meeting n. 2720th:
🇭🇺 Hungary,
Considerations of the Representatives, Cont’d:

Delegation of Hungary:
01. Her Excellency Mr. Péter SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister, Head of Delegation;
02. Her Excellency Mr. Péter SZTÁRAY, State Secretary for Security Policy;
03. Dr. Ferenc DANCS, Deputy State Secretary for Migration Challenges;
04. Ms. Hajnalka HÁRSFALVAI, Deputy Head, Cabinet of the Minister;
05. Ms. Anna ATANASZOV, Head of Section, Press Department;
06. Mr. Péter Dimiter SZTOJCSEV, Adviser, Press Department;
07. Mr. Krisztián BARANYAI, Adviser, Cabinet of the Minister;
08. Dr. Áron RÓNASZÉKI, Adviser, Department of Int’l Organizations;
09. Mr. Edgár TAMÁS, Security Officer;
10. Mr. Balázs FRIDRICH, Security Officer.

Introduction:
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined eighteenth to twenty-fifth periodic report of Hungary on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Presenting the report, Péter Szijjártó, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, said the Hungarian people had had to fight for their freedoms throughout their history, as well as for the effective enjoyment of human rights. Hungarians were a nation of freedom fighters, and therefore no Hungarian would accept any governmental action that would diminish human rights or violate their rights. At the same time, Hungarians did not like to be lectured about the way their country conducted its internal affairs. Migration was the most important issue in the international sphere. Picking a country and violating borders to get there was not a fundamental human right. The right to live in peace in one’s home was, however, a fundamental right. The State had to safeguard the borders and thus guarantee the safety of its citizens. On national minorities, Mr. Szijjártó said they were encouraged to organize cultural events, to “stick to their identities” as it contributed to the nation’s success. Last year, the support provided to national minorities by the Government amounted to 50 million euros. The ruling party had a Roma representative in parliament, and it was the only party that did.
On non-citizens, refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons, the Committee Experts raised two sets of concerns in the ensuing discussion. First, they asked if there were any discriminatory practices at the border preventing entrance into the Hungarian territory, notably as a result of the 2017 amendments to the Act on Asylum. Second, the Committee had received alarming reports on the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers who were already in Hungary’s territory. Could the delegation provide more information about their access to education, social and psychological services and legal aid? They asked the delegation to comment on the principle of the independence of the judiciary, as enshrined in the Constitution, in light of the upcoming changes to the judicial system in January 2020. Between 2015 and 2018, there had been numerous instances of hate speech targeting migrants and refugees. Statements that were clearly racist were made by the Government. Questions were also raised about the discrepancy in the size of the Roma minority and the varying figures on the number of Roma children in education.
In her concluding remarks, Keiko Ko, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Hungary, thanked the delegation for its participation which gave the Committee the opportunity to better understand the human rights situation in Hungary. She looked forward to receiving additional information in writing.
János Bóka, State Minister of Justice of Hungary, applauded the work that had been done by the Committee. He highlighted that the core objectives of the Convention were shared by Hungary and the Committee. The dialogue had been very fruitful and useful. It was clear that the Committee had studied the Hungarian legal framework and reality with great care. He reiterated that, as agreed, additional information would be submitted in writing.
Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for having worked through the questions posed by the Committee.
The delegation of Hungary consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry for Human Capacities, the Ministry of the Interior, the Immigration and Asylum Office, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Hungarian Embassy in Switzerland, and the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will next meet in public today, 30 April, at 3 p.m., to consider the combined sixth to eighth periodic report of Lithuania (CERD/C/LTU/9-10).
Report:
The Committee has before it the combined eighteenth to twenty-fifth periodic reports of Hungary: (CERD/C/HUN/18-25).
Presentation of the Report:
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said the Hungarian people had had to fight for their freedoms throughout their history, as well as for the effective enjoyment of their human rights. Hungarians were a nation of freedom fighters, and therefore no Hungarian would accept any governmental action that would diminish human rights or violate their rights. At the same time, Hungarians did not like to be lectured about the way their country conducted its internal affairs. Regardless of attacks, Hungary was proud of its constitution. In Hungary, predictability and political stability was a given: the current Government had won three successive elections. Various national consultations had been conducted, and although they were not legally binding, their results were heeded and applied by the Government. Turning to non-governmental organizations, in a context where Hungary was weathering attacks and combatting fake news, they played a political role. Some of them were funded externally. They spread fake news. Non-governmental organizations had never run for office, he recalled. Hungary would therefore never accept an approach that would suggest that they acted as representatives of the country.
Migration was the most important issue in the international sphere. Picking a country and violating borders to get there was not a fundamental human right. The right to live in peace in one’s home was, however, a fundamental right. The State had to safeguard the borders and thus guarantee the safety of its citizens. The Government did not allow any illegal migrants to enter the territory of Hungary. Furthermore, transit zones could not be considered detention centres, because one could exit them in the direction of Serbia. It was true, however, that illegal entry into the Hungarian territory was not allowed. Migrants had entered the country, occupying public areas, refusing to cooperate. Ahmed H. had encouraged people to violently enter the territory of Hungary and attack the police. He was rightly sentenced by Hungarian courts.
On national minorities, Mr. Szijjártó said they were encouraged to organize cultural events, to “stick to their identities” as this contributed to the nation’s success. Last year, the support provided to national minorities by the Government amounted to 50 million euros. This illustrated its approach to that issue. The ruling party had a Roma representative in parliament, and it was the only party that did. About 95 per cent of Roma children were integrated in the education system, which provided free meals and free books to pupils. The percentage of Roma enrolled in universities had been doubled by the Government. Furthermore, the Government was proud of its track record regarding the situation of Jewish citizens. Hungary had a strategic relationship with Israel. The biggest synagogue of Europe was in Budapest. True, the Government was engaged in a vigorous debate with George Soros, but it had nothing to do with his religion. In a democracy, it was more than natural to have a public debate about the future of the country. The Government considered the Jewish community’s contribution to the national success to be very important. Turning to the family policy, Mr. Szijjártó said the State had implemented a system of allowance to encourage young married couples to have children. Massive amounts of money had been allocated to that end. Mr. Szijjártó said he would not be able to stay for the whole duration of the debate, but insisted that it had been important for him to at least be present for the introduction.
The National Human Rights Institution said there were about 650,000 Roma in Hungary, the majority of whom lived in deep poverty. The implementation of Hungary’s national social inclusion strategy of 2011 had led to developments in the field of social integration. In Hungary, there were more than 1,000 settlements, mainly inhabited by Roma, where people suffered from unemployment, various social and health issues, as well as a lack of access to services. In some areas, the number of trained and committed professionals was lacking – a serious and unsolvable problem. The fight against extremist groups and hate speech targeting the Roma community had been successful in the past few years. Latency was nevertheless still high in the case of hate crimes. This was notably due to deficient investigations and inappropriate classification of cases. However, the fact that the National Police Headquarters paid special attention to updating its curricula on hate crime was a positive development. Cooperation with the Working Group against Hate Crime and non-governmental organizations providing assistance to victims would also be important in the long run.
Questions by the Committee Experts:
KEIKO KO, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Hungary, recalled that the previous dialogue dated back to 2002, two years prior to Hungary’s inclusion in the European Union. The Committee had then raised concerns about the persisting intolerance and discrimination which affected the Roma minority in particular, as well as xenophobic manifestations against immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
Noting that there were 13 indigenous nationalities living in Hungary according to the State, she asked the delegation to provide further information on the population’s ethnic composition, disaggregated by ethnicity, national origin and language spoken, as well as social and economic indicators disaggregated by sex, gender and ethnicity. Additional information on migrants that encompassed multiple years would also be useful.
The Committee noted that there was legislation combatting racial discrimination in Hungary. Its concerns did not lie with the existence of legislation but rather the way in which it was applied. Could the delegation provide more information on the concrete application of the Equal Treatment Act and other laws, as well as examples of cases, investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and compensation offered to victims? She also asked for more information on the institutions responsible for the protection of human rights. She notably sought to find out if they were properly funded, and whether they deployed outreach efforts.
Turning to hate speech, the Rapporteur asked about the measures that were in place to prevent speeches and activities by public authorities or public institutions that may result in incitement to racial hatred. Concerning the Roma community, while noting the numerous measures outlined in the State party’s report, she raised concerns about the worrying reports received by the Committee. Discrimination was persistent, levels of segregation had increased and the Hungarian police committed ethnic profiling, according to these reports. She asked the delegation to provide an update on measures put in place to prevent discrimination against Roma and the results they yielded.
On non-citizens, refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons, the Rapporteur raised two sets of concerns. First, she asked if there were any discriminatory practices at the border preventing entrance into the Hungarian territory, notably as a result of the 2017 amendments to the Act on Asylum. Second, the Committee had received alarming reports on the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers who were already in Hungary’s territory. Could the delegation provide more information about their access to education, social and psychological services and legal aid?
GUN KUT, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Follow-up to Concluding Observations, recalled that the Committee would request the State party to provide additional information on certain topics within one year of the adoption of the concluding observations. The Committee attached great importance to this procedure, as it allowed it to gauge political will to act on issues deemed of particular importance by the Committee. He asked about the situation of human trafficking in Hungary, and if it involved certain ethnicities.
Another Expert said despite findings regarding the Government’s actions to combat hate speech, there had been lapses in its performance. Between 2015 and 2018, there had been numerous instances of hate speech targeting migrants and refugees. Statements that were clearly racist were made by the Government. Did the delegation agree that it was racist to say that Hungarians would not allow their “colour” to be mixed with others? Despite measures taken by the Government, there had been lapses, many at the highest rank of Government. Regarding the Government’s efforts to address the situation of the Roma, she asked what the shortcomings had been.
There were many nuances attached to self-identification, an Expert said. Were there any official minorities amongst the delegation? Were there any people from the Roma community, the minority on which the Government seemed to focus? She also asked how many Roma were in Parliament, the police, the army and other law-enforcement bodies. She noted that there was segregation of Roma in housing, education, healthcare and so on. That called for special measures. Turning to human rights education, she asked what role the Government played and what its vision was for a future that was free from segregation and xenophobia.
An Expert asked about the prison population in Hungary. How many people were in prison, and could that information be broken down. Regarding the 13 languages spoken in the country, could the delegation provide more information about their use? Where and how were they taught? Were they taught in schools or were they only spoken in households. How many cases of racial discrimination had been taken to court and how many had reached sentence stage? He asked how human rights conventions were integrated in the fundamental law in Hungary.
What was the legal framework in Hungary that enabled the creation and operation of non-governmental organizations on racial discrimination? The Expert asked about the portrayal of minorities in the media. How were Roma and Jewish issues addressed in the media in Hungary? Since January 2018, Hungary had shut down its borders to nearly every person seeking international protection. Could the delegation provide more information on the number of decisions taken to send back asylum seekers or refugees?
More information was requested about perception surveys on racism and racial discrimination. Had the Government carried any out? If so, what had the results been? If not, did it intend to do so in the future? The Expert also asked whether Hungary had any policy on the International Decade on People of African Descent.
The alternative to the independence of the judiciary was the rule of power, said an Expert. He asked the delegation to comment on the principle of the independence of the judiciary, as enshrined in the Constitution, in light of the upcoming changes to the judicial system, in January 2020.
An Expert asked the delegation for more information about the phrase “the interest of future generations” which appeared in official documents and organizational charts. What was the threshold for compulsory school age? He also asked for more information on the delimitation of school boundaries.
Concerning the minorities in Hungary, a Committee Expert said one speaker had said it was about six per cent, around 600,000 persons, but an older report by a non-governmental organization spoke of 800,000 persons, while the official report said this figure was only 50,000. The Expert noted discrimination was always considered negative by the Committee, as per the Convention, and therefore did not use the phrase “positive discrimination”, preferring “positive action”. He requested more information about varying figures on the number of Roma children in education. The discrepancies in figures could be a sign of hidden discrimination.
The State report said refugee status had been granted to a number of Afghan, Syrian, Pakistani and other refugees. That must have happened before 2018. It was a commendable action carried out by Hungary to have given refuge to persons suffering from prejudices. Unfortunately, persons in such a situation were not allowed into the country any more. A law was passed in Hungary in 2018 that said a person’s application for asylum was inadmissible if the applicant arrived via a country where he or she were not subjected to a risk of persecution. Hungary had common boundaries with seven States which were quite stable. With the passing of that law, Hungary had obliterated the existence of new asylum seeks or refugees in the country. While that was within the remit of the State and parliament, the Expert said that the result was very shocking.
Turning to the national consultations, another Expert asked how they were organized and who participated in them. The delegation said that fake news was spread by non-governmental organizations. Could it provide examples of this, and how it addressed this issue?
Concerning the Roma population in Hungary, there were discrepancies about their numbers. One study in 2017 said the Roma population was approximately 876,000 persons, but this morning, a speaker said it was around 600,000 persons. Could the delegation clarify this?
Replies by the Delegation:
JÁNOS BÓKA, State Minister of Justice of Hungary, said the delegation would provide in writing data on the human and financial resources allocated to the Office of the Commission for Fundamental Rights and the Equal Treatment Authority; individual complaints related to equal treatment; and practices of Hungarian courts related to hate crimes. He recalled that nobody could be forced to declare his or her national or ethnic identity, except as a prerequisite for obtaining a special benefit or to exercise a right that was connected to this status. While the State had statistics on the prison population, it did not have specific data on its ethnic composition.
The delegation said that fundamental law used the concept of nationality instead of ethnic minority to avoid any form of discrimination based on the size of the population. The Roma or German populations were much larger than the Armenian population, for instance. The Hungarian delegation included members of national minorities. It was not possible to adopt decisions about national minorities without their involvement. Elections were held regularly for their representative bodies, which the Government considered as partners. Their approval was required for the issuance of education decrees related to the national minority they represented, for instance. There were also over 500 national minority non-governmental organizations, which the Government considered to be partners and regularly consulted.
JÁNOS BÓKA, State Minister of Justice of Hungary, said several people in the Jewish community identified as Hungarians with Jewish religious convictions. There was no Hungarian majority and Jewish minority in Hungary, but rather Hungarians with Christian and Jewish religious and cultural backgrounds. The delegation added that numerous Jews in Hungary did not identify as members of a minority; they considered themselves Hungarians of Jewish faith or Jewish religious and cultural background.
Turning to the upcoming changes to the judicial system, Mr. Bóka stressed that they had been already debated extensively in a number of international fora, and the proceedings of these meetings were public. To put the changes in perspective, he recalled that the separate system of administrative courts had been existing for centuries in some European countries. It had also existed in Hungary before being dismantled by the Communist dictatorship because it was too successful in defending of the rule of law. For 30 years now, there was consensus in academia that this system ensured a better judicial review of administrative rulings. The Hungarian Government itself had requested the opinion of the Venice Commission to ensure that the proposed system was adequate and in line with international standards. The Venice Commission did not object to the fact that the establishment of the system could not be constitutionally objected. It did not oppose the central administration of court included in the system if potential arbitrary decisions on the part of the Minister of Justice were prevented and appropriate checks and balances were put in place. The Hungarian legislator had made a political decision to make these changes to the judicial system, and the Commission had acknowledged that it was an acceptable decision if appropriate checks and balances were put in place. Requesting that the legislator’s decision be rescinded would change the nature of the dialogue: it would no longer be a legal discussion but rather a political debate which he wished to avoid. The very successful dialogue with the Venice Commission was over, and the Government was focused on ensuring the harmonious implementation of the new system in January 2020.
On Roma inclusion, Mr. Bóka recalled that Hungary was one of the first countries that had elevated this issue to a European level. Under the Hungarian presidency of the European Union, a framework strategy for Roma inclusion had been adopted in 2011. Hungary was also the first Member State to submit its national inclusion strategy to the European Commission. The Government reported every year on the results of the activities carried out in that context, and the reports were publicly available.
The delegation added that the geographic distribution of the Roma population was uneven. In the north-eastern part of the country, there were three counties where the Roma typically lived. The Government published yearly reports on the projects it put together for the Roma population. It also collected data and used a detailed and thorough system of indicators to monitor progress. A social convergence strategy focused on early childhood, through targeted measures that sought to foster education. Disadvantaged children, including Roma children, were encouraged and supported to ensure that they may finish primary and secondary school, as well as vocational training. In 2015, a programme targeting Roma girls and providing them with mentoring had been launched, and it had now been extended. The Government had put in place measures to identify factors that led to children dropping out of school in order the better address this phenomenon. There were also cooperation and consultation mechanisms, such as the Roma Coordination Council, that operated under the guiding principle “nothing about us without us” to ensure the Roma were involved in all the decision that concerned them. Turning to segregation, the delegation recalled that the act on Equal Treatment was adopted as a prerequisite to Hungary’s inclusion to the European Union. Parents could freely choose their children’s school within the framework of school districting. Furthermore, it was important for the Government that the persecution against the Roma and the Jews, as well as their genocides, be included in the national curriculum.
JÁNOS BÓKA, State Minister of Justice of Hungary, said a clear distinction should be made between asylum and immigration and asylum seekers and migrants. The objective of the international asylum system was to provide shelter for those fleeing legitimate fear of persecution, preferably as close to their home as possible. In the Government’s opinion, it was an abuse of the international asylum system to use it to build and maintain global migration corridors. While global migration had its causes which made persons leave home and travel thousands of miles, such pressing needs did not amount to legitimate fear of persecution. The Government’s policy was to take help where it was needed rather than bring problems in the country— hence Hungary’s participation in United Nations and European Union missions in Kosovo, Cyprus, Afghanistan, Mali and Lebanon, amongst others.
The delegation assured that people who wished to apply for asylum could do so without facing any discrimination. Hungary sought to tackle the root causes of migration and to prevent the entry of migrants into the European Union without proper identification. In 2015, almost 400,000 people had entered the territory of Hungary illegally. Since the implementation of the new asylum system, application for asylum had to be made in transit zones. The goal was to prevent people from entering the territory of the European Union illegally. Transit zones were created in 2017 to accommodate people who did not have documents to enter Hungary legally. The living conditions in these zones were compliant with domestic and international laws and were not comparable to detention. Education was provided to children aged 3 to 16. Community activities were organized by social workers and health care services was offered. General practitioners and paediatricians regularly travelled to the transit zones. Playgrounds, sports equipment and wireless internet connections were installed in the zones, following complaints made by non-governmental organizations, which were heeded by the Government. Three non-governmental organizations, including the Hungarian Red Cross, regularly visited the zones.
Hungary fully respected the non-refoulement principle. All applications were duly processed. Applicants benefitted from legal support and could use the language of their choice.
Second Round of Questions by Committee Experts:
KEIKO KO, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Hungary, thanked the delegation for its detailed responses. She asked for more information about the Government’s efforts to combat hate speech. Concerning law 62/2001, on Hungarians living in neighbouring countries, she asked about its potential discriminatory effects.
Another Expert asked about domestic workers, who were often immigrants. Were there any measures in place to address their situation, given that they were often discriminated against?
Another Expert said that a separate administrative court system did not contravene the Constitution. Could they provide more information about the checks and balances? He asked the delegation to comment on the possibility that non-judges would be appointed to courts under the new system.
Another Expert asked about the institutional representation of Roma women. Were there any Roma women in parliament, the judiciary, the police or the army? She still had concerns about social inclusion in primary schools. Could a wealthy family prevent their children from attending a school where there were Roma children?
What mechanisms prevented political appointments to courts in Hungary? The Expert said racism in political discourse was rampant and there were populist politicians that used their platforms to stoke racism and xenophobia. And yet, there were institutions in Hungary to deal with these issues. He asked for more information on their work to counter racism and xenophobia in political discourse.
Replies by the Delegation:
JÁNOS BÓKA, State Minister of Justice of Hungary, said there was a comprehensive legal framework in place to address hate crimes. The criminal code explicitly included incitement to violence and hatred. It even granted protection before an actual attack took place. It also required that access to data be rendered impossible in matters relating to online hateful content. The Government had changed the definition of anti-Semitism in 2019 and instructed cabinet ministers to examine potential ways in which this change could be implemented. Hungary was not in a position to take a leading role in the Decade on People of African Descent, but supported the work of the European Union in that regard. Domestic workers were not common in Hungary, and when there were any they were not characteristically from minorities. The Hungarian legislation was, however, in line with international norms on domestic workers.
Turning to the new court system, Mr. Bóka reiterated that the Government had sought the opinion of the Venice Commission. Judges in the new administrative court system would also have the same status as other judges. Their tenure would be the same. The appointment procedure required that applications be evaluated based on a set of criteria, 80 per cent of which were objective. The 20 per cent subjective criteria would be assessed by a body primarily comprised of judges.
On the representation of Roma women, the delegation said Roma women played various roles in political life in Hungary. One Roma female member of parliament had been elected in Hungary.
Third Round of Questions by Committee Experts:
An Expert asked about more details on the way in which children were taught about the Holocaust and the training provided to police officers on hate crimes.
Another Expert asked for more information on the Constitutional Court. Could the delegation provide more information on the recent changes, which notably narrowed its remit?
An Expert asked for information about the situation of stateless people. How about people at risk of statelessness?
Replies by the Delegation:
JÁNOS BÓKA, State Minister of Justice Hungary, said that more information on Holocaust remembrance would be submitted in writing. Turning to the Constitutional Court, he referred the Committee to the opinion of the Venice Commission.
The delegation said the police had achieved significant progress on hate crimes. Indicators were now used to better identify hate crimes. These indicators had been drawn up with international partners, such as the United Nations, and Hungarian non-governmental organizations.
Concluding Remarks:
KEIKO KO, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Hungary, thanked the delegation for its participation which gave the Committee the opportunity to better understand the human rights situation in Hungary. She looked forward to receiving additional information in writing.
JÁNOS BÓKA, State Minister of Justice Hungary, applauded the work that had been done by the Committee. He highlighted that the core objectives of the Convention were shared by Hungary and the Committee. The dialogue had been very fruitful and useful. It was clear that the Committee had studied the Hungarian legal framework and reality with great care. He reiterated that, as agreed, additional information would be submitted in writing.
NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for having worked through the questions posed by the Committee.

CERD/19/6E

30th april 2019; Meeting n. 2721st:
🇱🇹 Lithuania,
Considerations of the Representatives:

Delegation of Lithuania:
01. Mr. Neris GERMANAS,
Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Head of Delegation;
02. Mr. Darius STANIULIS,
Director of the United Nations, International Organizations and Human Rights Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Head of Delegation;
03. Mrs. Sigita ALEKNĖ,
Specialist, Equal Opportunities and Equality between Women and Men Division, Ministry of Social Security and Labour;
04. Mrs. Lina CHARAŠAUSKAITĖ,
Advisor, International Cooperation Branch, Ministry of Interior;
05. Mrs. Inga GALDIKAITĖ,
Minister Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Lithuania to the United Nations Oifice and other International Organizations in Geneva;
06. Mrs. Aisté JAKŠTIENĖ,
Second Secretary, Human Rights Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
07. Ambassador Andrius KRIVAS,
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Lithuania to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva;
08. Mrs. Ieva LUKOŠEVIČIENĖ,
Advisor, International Law Branch, Ministry of Justice;
09. Mrs. Vida MONTVYDAITĖ,
Director, Department of National Minorities under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania;
10. Mrs. Jurga ZIENIŪTĖ,
Prosecutor, Department for Criminal Prosecution, Prosecutor General’s Office.

1st may 2019; Meeting n. 2722nd:
🇱🇹 Lithuania,
Considerations of the Representatives, Cont’d:

Delegation of Lithuania:
01. Mr. Neris GERMANAS,
Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Head of Delegation;
02. Mr. Darius STANIULIS,
Director of the United Nations, International Organizations and Human Rights Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Head of Delegation;
03. Mrs. Sigita ALEKNĖ,
Specialist, Equal Opportunities and Equality between Women and Men Division, Ministry of Social Security and Labour;
04. Mrs. Lina CHARAŠAUSKAITĖ,
Advisor, International Cooperation Branch, Ministry of Interior;
05. Mrs. Inga GALDIKAITĖ,
Minister Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Lithuania to the United Nations Oifice and other International Organizations in Geneva;
06. Mrs. Aisté JAKŠTIENĖ,
Second Secretary, Human Rights Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
07. Ambassador Andrius KRIVAS,
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Lithuania to the United Nations Office and Other International Organizations in Geneva;
08. Mrs. Ieva LUKOŠEVIČIENĖ,
Advisor, International Law Branch, Ministry of Justice;
09. Mrs. Vida MONTVYDAITĖ,
Director, Department of National Minorities under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania;
10. Mrs. Jurga ZIENIŪTĖ,
Prosecutor, Department for Criminal Prosecution, Prosecutor General’s Office.

Introduction:
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined ninth and tenth periodic report of Lithuania on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Presenting the report, Neris Germanas, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said that the Lithuanian Office of the Inspector of Journalists’ Ethics contributed to preventing and fighting hate speech in the country. It organized workshops for social workers, teachers, and institutions interacting with vulnerable groups. A public information campaign had also been conducted to raise awareness on hate speech. Prosecutors still faced challenges when they were organizing and conducting pre-trial investigations. The examination of complaints, reports and statements proved challenging due to a lack of efficient procedures. The Ministry of Justice, aiming to strengthen the State’s support for the victims of violent crimes, had prepared an amendment to improve the compensation system for damages that was regulated by the Law on Compensation for Violent Crimes. The draft legislation sought to comply with a ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union which instructed the State to make provisions for compensating victims of violent crimes. At the national level, the Ministry of Social Security and Labour continued to improve legislation on the integration and reception of asylum seekers and refugees.
In the dialogue that followed, while commending the State party’s efforts to establish a national human rights institution, Committee Experts raised concerns about its funding and ability to perform all its functions. Furthermore, the Committee had been told that refugees were not properly integrated in Lithuania. Did the Government plan to require that border agents register all asylum applications and refer them to asylum authorities? Would it conduct relevant impartial investigations of all cases of alleged denials of entry into the territory and asylum procedures? Committee Experts also asked if the Government intended to allocate additional financial resources to the improvement and expansion of accommodation and related support for asylum seekers. Regarding the cases of racial discrimination mentioned in the report, they asked for details about the sentences that had been handed down. Where did the responsibility for the burden of proof lie for such cases?
In her concluding remarks, Yanduan Li, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Lithuania, thanked members of the delegation for their answers. She commended the delegation for its openness, which had allowed a constructive and fruitful dialogue to take place.
Mr. Germanas thanked the Committee for the productive exchange of views. Reaffirming Lithuania’s obligations to promote and protect all human rights, he stressed that the Government had made significant efforts to uphold them. The delegation would submit additional information to the Committee in writing.
Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, said the delegation had been very approachable and friendly, and that had been very much appreciated by the Committee. The Committee and Lithuania were moving in the direction of results and achieving the common goal of combatting racial discrimination, racism and xenophobia.
The delegation of Lithuania consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Department of National Minorities, Department for Criminal Prosecution and the Permanent Mission of Lithuania to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will meet in private this afternoon, contrary to what had been initially previewed.
Report:
The Committee had before it the ninth and tenth periodic report of Lithuania (CERD/C/LTU/9-10).
Presentation of the Report:
NERIS GERMANAS, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said that this year marked the fiftieth anniversary of the entry into force of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The Convention remained the key international instrument to combat racial discrimination worldwide. He reaffirmed Lithuania’s strong commitment to uphold its national and international human rights obligations and combat racial discrimination in all its forms. The Lithuanian Office of the Inspector of Journalists’ Ethics contributed to preventing and fighting hate speech in the country. It notably organized workshops for social workers, teachers, and institutions interacting with vulnerable groups. A public information campaign had also been conducted to raise awareness on hate speech. Problems relating to regulations persisted, however. Prosecutors still faced challenges when they were organizing and conducting pre-trial investigations. The examination of complaints, reports and statements proved challenging due to a lack of efficient procedures. The Ministry of Justice, aiming to strengthen the State’s support for the victims of violent crimes, had prepared an amendment to improve the compensation system for damages that was regulated by the Law on Compensation for Violent Crimes. The draft legislation sought to comply with a ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union which instructed the State to make provisions for compensating victims of violent crimes.
The Law on State-guaranteed Legal Aid, which was adopted on 30 June 2018, stipulated that secondary legal aid, such as assistance by a lawyer, was provided to victims regardless of their financial situation. On human trafficking, the State continued to develop comprehensive policy with the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the Convention on the Protection of Children against Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. In addition, diplomats and journalists received training on these issues. Human rights issues were integrated in the general curricula for primary and secondary education. A component of the curricula focused on citizenship education aiming to foster the ability of individuals, and society as a whole, to accept global changes and cultural diversity; demonstrate tolerance of different peoples; respect national minorities’ rights; and preserve the national identity in a culturally diverse context.
Lithuania was actively contributing to the international community’s efforts to address the global migration and refugee challenges. It had supported the adoption of the United Nations Global Compacts on migration and refugees. At the national level, the Ministry of Social Security and Labour continued to improve legislation on the integration and reception of asylum seekers and refugees. An action plan for 2018-2019 had been adopted to foster the integration of foreigners into society. In that context, 32 projects had been carried out. Since 2015, the State had provided support to 1,279 people under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund 2014-2020.
Questions by the Committee Experts:
YANDUAN LI, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Lithuania, thanked the head of the delegation for the presentation. The report included substantial information, which had helped the Committee to better understand the Convention’s state of implementation in Lithuania. She congratulated Lithuania on the accreditation of their Ombudsman’s Office as a national human rights institution. In spite of the progress made by the State party in the implementation of its international duties, Ms. Li said she had some questions.
The Committee recommended that the State incorporated all grounds for discrimination in its legal domestic definition of racial discrimination, in compliance with article 1 of the Convention. She noted that grounds such as “colour”, “descent”, and “national origin” were not mentioned in the relevant laws. Could the delegation provide more information on the courts’ position on the definition of discrimination? She asked if there were any relevant decisions or interpretations in that regard. Turning to the law on national minorities, which expired in 2010, the Committee hoped that Lithuania could inform on the progress of the draft law. She asked for information on the progress achieved and the State’s plan and strategy.
While commending the State party’s efforts to establish a national human rights institution, the Rapporteur raised concerns about its funding and its ability to perform all its functions. She asked for clarification on the matter.
Turning to hate speech, the Rapporteur said some politicians and media outlets were still using strong language in incitement of hatred against vulnerable groups of society. Anti-migrant, anti-refugee and Islamophobic discourse was used, in particular by some populist parties. Did Lithuania plan to allocate more resources to fight hate speech. Concerning hate crimes, there was no specific plan of action dedicated to this issue. The State party said that training in the field of hatred-related crime investigations was organized for law enforcement officials, the Prosecutor’s Office and judges. She asked the delegation to comment on reports that only two training sessions were held between 2015 and the date on which the report was submitted, involving 24 officers. It was not clear if any training sessions had been organized in 2018 and whether any were planned for 2019. Could Lithuania comment on this.
On the Roma community, the Committee appreciated Lithuania’s efforts to ensure its integration, as illustrated by its action plans, the Rapporteur stated. And yet, it had been reported that Roma education rates still differed considerably from the national average. Further, while education for the general population was increasing, Lithuanian Roma education had only improved at the lowest level, namely primary and basic education. Could the delegation provide more information on Roma children’s education and the Government’s work to improve it?
The Committee had been told that refugees were not properly integrated in Lithuania. Did the Government plan to require that border agents register all asylum applications and refer them to asylum authorities? Would it conduct relevant impartial investigations of all cases of alleged denials of entry into the territory and asylum procedures? The Rapporteur also asked if the Government intended to provide more financial resources to further improve and expand accommodation and reception support for asylum seekers.
GUN KUT, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Follow-up to Concluding Observations, said the adoption and ratification of article 8 of the Convention was very much appreciated by the Committee, as was the State party’s novel approach to reporting.
Another Expert said that it would be useful to include information about national minorities in the core document. Regarding article 7 of the Convention, Lithuania’s approach to human rights education was commendable and could serve as a model for other countries.
An Expert asked about the number of cases of discrimination, the sanctions imposed and the remedies provided. On Roma integration, a European Union report had noted that despite progress, there was still uncertainty regarding the funding of the action plan for the years 2015-2020. He asked for information about the number of cases relating to discrimination against Roma that were submitted to the Ombudsperson as well as remedies that had been provided. Could the delegation provide information on the Government’s efforts to combat human trafficking?
Referring to a study called “Being Black in the European Union,” another Expert pointed out that Lithuania was not mentioned in it. She asked the delegation to comment on their absence from the study. Could it provide information on Lithuania’s black population and instances of anti-black racism in the country?
Another Expert said information on pre-trial investigations could not be retrieved from the Office of the Prosecutor’s information system. Were these technical lapses being addressed? On the provision of health care to the Roma community, he asked about the effects of not being covered by compulsory health insurance, in particular for those who were not gainfully employed. Furthermore, the number of stateless people had not significantly decreased in the past few years, he noted. What could Lithuania do to improve this situation?
Noting that there were numerous national minorities in Lithuania, another Expert asked if there were any represented in the delegation. Regarding the cases of racial discrimination mentioned in the report, he asked for details about the sentences that were handed down. Where did the responsibility for the burden of proof lie for such cases?
On stateless people, another Expert asked if the Government was considering the adoption of the international conventions that protected this segment of the population. Were there any alternatives for the people that were excluded from the compulsory healthcare system?
Replies by the Delegation:
NERIS GERMANAS, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said the figures that had been included in the core document were being updated.
A delegate explained that the first version of the law on national minorities was very broad. A new generation of lawyers recently started to consider how it could be updated to address the specific needs of particular groups. Different political parties had their own points of view on this issue. The Government had been acting as a mediator, maintaining a constant dialogue with national minorities, lawyers and academics. Under the current law, any group could register as a national minority, even if their community was comprised of just a few members. The Hungarian community, for instance, only had about 40 members, despite having deep historical roots. Some human rights defenders believed that every minority group should be granted rights, whereas historical national minorities favoured the establishment of a definite, closed list of national minorities, which would be included in the new version of the law. While the dialogue on this matter was still ongoing, a first draft of the new law would be drawn up by 7 June 2019.
The delegation said there were people from various nationalities in Lithuania, but not all of them were represented by non-governmental organizations. Some groups, such as the Polish and Russian communities, could send their children to schools where classes were imparted in their native languages. As for smaller communities, they had organizations that offered languages schools called “Saturday schools” which were supported by the Department of National Minorities.
Turning to the Roma community, the delegation said there were about 2,000 of them, the vast majority of whom were Lithuanian citizens. The Department of National Minorities made significant efforts to prevent Roma children from dropping out of school. A network of social workers had been working on this issue, along with non-governmental organizations. A project called “Roma Platform” mobilized active members of the Roma community who, against remuneration, served as mediators between the Roma community and Lithuanian governing institutions. Efforts were made to address unemployment issues in the Roma communities through adult education; the Department of National Minorities offered distance education in partnership with local municipalities, for instance. On compulsory health insurance, every child under the age of 18, pregnant women, and people who were employed benefited from it. Reaching out to people who were not covered, such as people who worked on the black market, was not easy. The Department of National Minorities partnered with mediators and non-governmental organizations, amongst others, to that end. It was important to note that everybody had access to urgent medical care.
On hate speech, the Constitution of Lithuania established the principle of non-discrimination and the criminal code forbade discrimination on various grounds, the delegation recalled. The Inspector of Journalists’ Ethics was building capacity in civil society organizations and liaising with companies like Facebook and Twitter. It held workshops to provide Lithuanians with the opportunity to reflect on hate speech and the best ways to address it. An online tool was developed to allow civil society to report hate crimes. The criminal code defined hate crimes, but also stipulated that other types of crimes could also be considered as such, when aggravating circumstances warranted it. The Ministry of Justice was working on improving the registration of, and collection of data on, hate crimes. This work had started following recommendations made by the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to that effect.
The Prosecutor General’s Office had a group of specialized prosecutors dealing with hate crimes. It also offered training on racism, racial discrimination, hate crimes and hate speech, and prosecutors had been asked to pay special attention to hate crimes and hate speech. Inter-institutional meetings were being held to work on this issue. The Prosecutor General’s Office would organize a meeting of the specialized prosecutors with non-governmental organizations to exchange views on challenges faced and identify common goals. Moving forward, it would continue to implement clear and precise regulation, provide adequate protection to victims and ensure its staff was properly trained.
The Ministry of Interior would provide training on hate crimes and hate speech to judges, police officers and prosecutors.
On asylum seekers, Lithuania had improved reception conditions: healthcare, psychological support and social services were provided to them. On 18 March 2017, the Government had adopted a resolution on alternative accommodation for asylum seekers. In implementing this resolution, which allowed asylum seekers to stay in apartments rather than refugee reception centres, the Ministry of Interior signed agreements with non-governmental organizations such as the Lithuanian Red Cross and Caritas. People who had been granted asylum received various services as well as necessities free of charge. They were also offered monthly benefits. Furthermore, amendments had been made to relevant laws to ensure the uniform treatment of refugees and people benefiting from social benefits. Employers who hired refugees or people who had received subsidiary protection status could receive subsidies representing up to 75 per cent of their positions’ costs.
On statelessness, the Government had ratified the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. While the number of stateless persons had gone down in Lithuania, the delegation acknowledged that it should be further reduced.
There was no special protection for victims of racial discrimination provided by the current legislation, unless they had also been victims of violent crimes and applied for compensation as such. The Government had extended the concept of violent crimes and simplified the procedure to obtain compensation. The amount of compensation offered had also been revised.
Lithuania had a national action plan against trafficking in human beings. It sought to strengthen support to persons at a risk of becoming victims of trafficking. There was also a coordinating commission tasked with addressing this issue, which was comprised of government officials, as well as representatives of international organizations and non-governmental organizations. Preventive leaflets were disseminated at airports, and other campaigns would be conducted in 2019 to further raise awareness on human trafficking. Various ministries and governmental bodies had been working to improve inter-institutional cooperation and coordination in addressing this issue.
Given that domestic workers were not common in Lithuania, no specific provisions protecting them were included in the labour code. Domestic workers therefore were protected by general provisions pertaining to the relationship between an employer and an employee.
The delegation said that between 2017 and 2019, the budget allocated to the Ombudsperson’s Office had increased. Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had proposed that the Ombudsperson’s Office join the delegation, but they had declined the offer.
Second Round of Questions by Committee Experts:
Another Expert enquired about the population decline in Lithuania. He asked if the Government intended to organize activities celebrating the International Decade for People of African Descent.
YANDUAN LI, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Lithuania, asked for more information on the acquisition of Lithuanian citizenship by stateless children born in Lithuania. The Lithuania legislation contravened international conventions on statelessness. How did the Government intend to address this issue?
Turning to people of African descent, another Expert asked for statistics on their presence in Lithuania. Had there been any complaints of racial discrimination against people of African descent? Had there been any instances of discrimination or racism against black footballers?
Another Expert said that national human rights institutions could not be part of country delegations once they had acquired an A status. She congratulated the Government for having created the environment in which the Lithuanian national human rights institution could be granted such a status. Had there been any domestic worker abuse cases brought before Lithuanian courts?
Did the Government have any plans to protect the Karaite community, asked another Expert.
Replies by the Delegation:
NERIS GERMANAS, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said that after Lithuania joined the European Union, numerous Lithuanians decided to leave the country temporarily. There were many Lithuanian nationals in London, for instance. Dual citizenship was forbidden in Lithuania, but a referendum on the issue would be held in the coming months.
Every year, events were organized to celebrate people of African descent. This year, the Minister of Foreign Affairs would take part in such activities on 25 May. Regarding instances of racism in football, he said he had no information on the matter.
The Ombudsperson’s Office was a constitutional institution, which had been set up to examine individual complaints related to the abuse of power and bureaucratic shortcomings. Its mandate had evolved and now included promoting human rights and seeking the harmonization of domestic legislation with international conventions in the field of human rights.
The Department of National Minorities was working to support the Karaite community. An event had been organized in April to mark the publication of a Karaite song collection.
On stateless children, the delegation said it was a very sensitive situation and steps would be taken to address it. A proposal to amend the relevant laws were being considered.
Turning to legal aid for victims of terrorism, the delegation said the Government was working to extend the list of cases for which secondary legal aid was provided to victims.
Third Round of Questions by Committee Experts:
An Expert asked about the presence of minorities in the prison population.
Another Expert asked about the burden of proof in cases of racial discrimination and the number of sentences that were handed down in discrimination cases. Could the Convention be directly invoked before a court in Lithuania? What was the status of international treaties, such as the Convention, in domestic legislation?
Regarding hate speech, it was a good thing that the Government’s approach focused on fines, said another Expert. When it came to the media and politicians, who were powerful, it was important that prosecutors and courts were able to do their work without cowing. Could the delegation provide information about instances where politicians or the media were prosecuted? This would illustrate that courts and prosecutors were able to discharge their duties.
Replies by the Delegation:
The responsibility for the burden of proof did not lie with victims but rather with the State.
The Convention’s status in the domestic legal system was established by the Constitution. It stipulated that international treaties that had been ratified were considered part of the domestic legal system and therefore had force of law in Lithuania.
Concluding Remarks:
YANDUAN LI, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Lithuania, thanked the members of the delegation for their answers. She commended the delegation for its openness, which had allowed a constructive and fruitful dialogue to take place.
NERIS GERMANAS, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, thanked the Committee for the productive exchange of views. Reaffirming Lithuania’s obligations to promote and protect all human rights, he stressed that the Government had made significant efforts to uphold them. Lithuania valued its cooperation with the United Nations’ human rights treaty bodies. The delegation would submit additional information to the Committee in writing.
NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, said the delegation had been very approachable and friendly, and that had been very much appreciated by the Committee. The Committee and Lithuania were moving in the direction of results and achieving the common goal of combatting racial discrimination, racism and xenophobia.

CERD/19/7E

1st may 2019; Meeting n. 2724th:
🇿🇲 Zambia,
Considerations of the Representatives:

Introduction:
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning considered the combined seventeenth to nineteenth periodic report of Zambia on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Margret Mary Lungo Kaemba, Minister Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, apologized for the absence of the delegation, which, she assured, did not in any way mean that Zambia was not committed to the Convention. The fight against racism must be relentless if it was to succeed. The Government had taken note of the list of themes in relation to the report, which had been submitted to relevant stakeholders at the national level. A written update, which would provide responses under these themes, would be submitted to the Committee as soon as the relevant information was validated at the national level. Zambia remained committed to the fight against race-based hostility and violence; forms of institutional and systemic racism, including as pertained to law enforcement, and access to justice, education, health and employment; and all other forms of discrimination. In implementing the Convention, the Government encouraged civil society organizations to complement its efforts to ensure the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Furthermore, Zambia had started a process to establish a permanent mechanism that would be responsible for monitoring the implementation of all treaties. The Government remained resolute in its efforts to enhance human rights for the well-being of all persons without discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
In the discussion that followed, Committee Experts thanked the representative of Zambia, who had been placed in an unusual situation, but nevertheless made an effort that the Committee appreciated. Like other post-colonial societies, Zambia had struggled with how to prevent and eliminate the racial and class inequalities left by the colonialists. While it was clear from the State party report that Zambia had taken some measures to do so, challenges remained. On discrimination against workers, Experts asked if there had been any additional cases recently, in particular concerning large commercial agricultural farms and in mines owned by expatriates. Where did the burden of proof lie when white discrimination against black workers took place in such enterprises? There had only been one complaint related to racial discrimination brought before the Zambian Human Rights Commission according to the State party. They asked about the outcome of this case and the reasons why there were no other cases. While the Committee had received anecdotal information about accusations of racial discrimination concerning white farmers from South Africa and Zimbabwe and Chinese-run mines, firm statistics would be preferable. Committee Experts also said the presence of the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. demonstrated respect for the Committee on the part of the State party. However, the interactive dialogue with the State party was fundamental for the Committee to assess precisely its degree of compliance with the Convention. They expressed concerns about the repercussions of the absence of the State party’s delegation.
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Kaemba thanked the Committee for its questions. However, she said that attempting to respond to these questions would not do them justice. She acknowledged that it was an obligation for the delegation to be present. They had not been able to come, unfortunately, and the Government regretted this. Within 48 hours, Zambia would be able to respond to every question in writing.
Verene A. Shepherd, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Zambia, reiterated how thankful she was for the Chargé d’Affaires a.i.’ presence. She heard her commitment to provide answers within 48 hours, which the Committee appreciated. Questions and issues were raised by the Committee Experts because they were Zambia’s partners in combatting the scourge of racial discrimination. She expressed hope that the State party received them in that spirit. The fight against racial discrimination was difficult in post-colonial societies and would require time, she stated.
Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, thanked the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. for her presence. It was necessary to “give time to time”. The Committee looked forward to receiving Zambia’s answers.
The Committee will next meet in public on Friday, 10 May when it will conclude its ninety-eighth session.
Report:
The Committee had before it the combined seventeenth to nineteenth periodic report of Zambia (CERD/C/ZMB/17-19).
Presentation of the Report:
MARGRET MARY LUNGO KAEMBA, Minister Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, apologized for the absence of the delegation, which did not in any way mean that Zambia was not committed to the Convention. The fight against racism must be relentless if it was to succeed. The Government had taken note of the list of themes in relation to the report, which had been submitted to relevant stakeholders at the national level. A written update, which would provide responses under these themes, would be submitted to the Committee as soon as the relevant information was validated at the national level. Zambia remained committed to the fight against race-based hostility and violence; forms of institutional and systemic racism, including as pertained to law enforcement, and access to justice, education, health and employment; and all other forms of discrimination. In implementing the Convention, the Government encouraged civil society organizations to complement its efforts to ensure the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Furthermore, Zambia had started a process to establish a permanent mechanism that would be responsible for monitoring the implementation of all treaties. The Government remained resolute in its efforts to enhance human rights for the well-being of all persons without discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Mrs. Kaemba thanked the United Nations system which had been providing appropriate support; the Human Rights Commission for its checks and balances; and civil society organizations for their dedication in sensitizing members of the general public on human rights issues.
Questions by the Country Rapporteur:
VERENE. A. SHEPHERD, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Zambia, thanked the representative of Zambia, who had been placed in an unusual situation, but nevertheless made an effort that the Committee appreciated. Like other post-colonial societies, Zambia had struggled with how to prevent and eliminate the racial and class inequalities left by the colonialists. While it was clear from the State party report that Zambia had taken some measures to do so, challenges remained. Noting that the State party did not provide any explanations for missing the 5 March 2009 deadline to submit its report, she said the Committee would be keen to hear about the challenges and constraints that prevented it from meeting its timely reporting obligations.
The Rapporteur requested a more updated Common Core Document with statistics from the 2010 population and housing census, as well as information on the indigenous peoples’ numbers, legal status, and socio-economic situation. Why had the amended Constitution of Zambia made no changes to the Bill of Rights to enshrine indigenous peoples’ rights, notably land rights? She also enquired about socio-economic indicators related to ethnic groups, asking for information which would shed light on each ethnic group’s situation. Underscoring that in Zambia 42.3 per cent of the population lived in extreme poverty, with 60.5 per cent living under the poverty line, she enquired about the impact of positive actions towards Zambians under the Citizens’ Empowerment Act, which were outlined on page 14 of the State party report.
Turning to discrimination against workers, the Rapporteur asked if there had been any additional cases recently, in particular concerning large commercial agricultural farms and in mines owned by expatriates. Where did the burden of proof lie when white discrimination against black workers took place in such enterprises? There had only been one complaint related to racial discrimination brought before the Zambian Human Rights Commission according to the State party. She asked about the outcome of this case and why there had been no other cases. While the Committee had received anecdotal information about accusations of racial discrimination concerning white farmers from South Africa and Zimbabwe and Chinese-run mines, firm statistics would be preferable.
The Rapporteur asked for an update on the impact of laws, policies and strategies – including legislative and administrative actions – used to prevent and punish people involved in human trafficking. She also requested information on the impact of activities undertaken under the human rights awareness raising programmes conducted by the Human Rights Commission of Zambia in collaboration with various partners. How effective had the legal provisions that covered article 5 of the Convention been in protecting rights? On refugees, how current were the figures of voluntary repatriation?
Was the discriminatory ground for committing criminal acts defined as an aggravating circumstance in the Penal Code, she further asked. She requested information on the application of section 70 of the Penal Code as well as investigations, prosecutions, convictions, sanctions and redress measures related to hate speech and hate crimes.
Turning to land rights, she asked if the delegation could provide information on Zambia’s efforts to address this issue, in so far as peasants and those who claimed customary use of land and prior possession were being evicted. Could the delegation comment on how Chinese-run copper mines complied with relevant domestic and international labour and human rights standards? How did they compare to other copper mining companies in Zambia? How were racial discrimination complaints of Zambians working in these mines dealt with?
The Rapporteur noted the commendable efforts made by the Government to protect the 25,324 persons with albinism who lived in the country. What more could it do to ensure their protection under article 5 of the Convention?
Questions by Other Experts:
GUN KUT, Committee Member and Rapporteur for Follow-up to Concluding Observations, recalled that the Committee attached great importance to the timeliness of report submissions. The Committee wished to be informed of developments regarding the preparation of upcoming reports. Its previous recommendations required constant performance on the part of the State party, not just action limited to a year, he added.
Another Expert asked for more information about the empowerment services offered to citizens who had been victims of discrimination on grounds covered by article 1 of the Convention. The Constitutional amendments of 2016 provided that the Human Rights Commission should have a presence in various provinces and districts. Could the delegation provide more information on progress achieved in that regard? He also enquired about campaigns that had been conducted to raise public awareness on the gender equity commission.
Another Expert, noting the absence of racial discrimination cases before the courts and the State party’s reference to various instances of “ethnic discrimination” in its report, asked what the Government considered to be an “ethnic discrimination”. Could the delegation provide information on racial discrimination-related administrative measures that were not pursuant to immigration or immigrants?
Recalling that health was an important component of the Sustainable Development Goals, another Expert pointed out that Zambia had a national plan on health. What further progress had been made on that front?
Another Expert recalled that there had been a wave of xenophobia in Zambia, which had notably affected Rwandan refugees. Could the delegation provide an update on what been done to address this problem? Turning to albinism, he stressed that people who had this condition suffered from exclusion, organ trafficking, etc. He enquired about steps the Government would take to address this situation.
Pointing out that there were numerous Angolan refugees in Zambia, another Expert asked for information about their repatriation. Did they leave of their own free will?
On forced marriages, had there been developments in preventing them? Was customary law applied uniformly to all ethnic groups? Who enforced customary law? Could a person from a given ethnic group decide to be covered by the personal law of another ethnic group?
Another Expert said the presence of the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. demonstrated respect for the Committee on the part of the State party. However, the interactive dialogue with the State party was fundamental for the Committee to assess precisely its degree of compliance with the Convention. He expressed concerns about the repercussions of the absence of the State party’s delegation.
Did the Constitution recognize customary laws, asked another Expert? She also asked about the status of migrants and refugees in the country. Could a refugee be involved in associations? How was one to acquire Zambian nationality?
Another Expert asked about the status and working conditions of mine workers.
Concluding Remarks:
MARGRET MARY LUNGO KAEMBA, Minister Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for its questions. However, attempting to respond to these questions would not do them justice. She acknowledged that it was an obligation for the delegation to be present. It was not to be, unfortunately, and the Government regretted this. Within 48 hours, Zambia would be able to respond to the questions.
VERENE. A. SHEPHERD, Committee Member and Country Rapporteur for Zambia, reiterated how thankful she was for the Chargé d’Affaires’ presence. She heard her commitment to provide answers within 48 hours, which the Committee appreciated. Questions and issues were raised by the Committee Experts because they were Zambia’s partners in combatting the scourge of racial discrimination. She expressed hope that the State party received them in that spirit. The fight against racial discrimination was difficult in post-colonial societies and would require time, she stated.
NOUREDDINE AMIR, Committee Chairperson, thanked the Chargé d’Affaires for her presence. It was necessary to “give time to time”. The Committee looked forward to receiving Zambia’s answers.

CERD0/19/008E

10th may 2019; Meeting n. 2737th:
Conclusion of the session of the works:

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its ninety-eighth session after adopting its concluding observations and recommendations on the reports of Andorra, Guatemala, Hungary, Lithuania and Zambia, which were considered during the session.
The concluding observations and recommendations of the Committee are available on the Committee’s webpage.
Rita Izsak-Ndiaye, Committee Rapporteur, said the Committee had reviewed five States parties under the Convention, namely Andorra, Guatemala, Hungary, Lithuania and Zambia. She recalled that only one meeting was held with Zambia, which had not been in a position to send a delegation to Geneva. She regretted that only a limited number of questions were answered by the State party, in writing, and following the appearance before the Committee of a single representative of its Permanent Mission. The Committee had issued concluding observations concerning all five States parties under its review. During the session, it had considered follow-up reports from Pakistan, Ecuador, Kuwait, Australia and Serbia and adopted recommendations to be communicated to these States parties through the Chair.
The Rapporteur thanked government representatives, non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and colleagues from the United Nations. The Committee had met with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to notably discuss the implementation of the recommendations outlined in General Assembly resolution 68/268, as well as the Group of Independent Eminent Experts on the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to explore possible avenues for cooperation. The Committee had examined three interstate communications submitted under article 11 of the Convention: one by Qatar against Saudi Arabia; one by Qatar against the United Arab Emirates; and another by the State of Palestine against Israel. While it had held hearings on these communications, the Committee had decided not to take any decisions, due to the legal complexity of the issues broached and a lack of resources, she stated. The Committee had also held an initial discussion about the draft of the General Recommendation No. 36 on preventing and combatting racial profiling. The draft had been posted on its website, and stakeholders were encouraged to submit their comments by 30 June 2019. The Committee planned to adopt the General Recommendation at its ninety-ninth session.
Noureddine Amir, Committee Chairperson, said Committee members had worked hard, alone or collegially, to discharge their mandate. Thanking the Secretariat’s staff, he stressed that the Committee’s mission was not merely legal but also ethical. There were various kinds of violations of human rights that were taking place in the world, and the Committee stood ready to meet the demands of all the victims. It would not forget those who were in dire situations. Their common destiny was to defend human rights and humankind, he stated.
The ninety-ninth session of the Committee will be held from 5 to 29 August, during which it will consider the reports of the Czech Republic, El Salvador, Iceland, Mexico, Mongolia, Poland and the State of Palestine on how they implement the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

CERD/19/9E