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UN rights expert: racism, xenophobia increasing

UN Special Rapporteur on racism and human rights lawyer Githu Muigai said Monday that racism is increasing [press release] as a result of xenophobic teachings and violence. Delivering two reports to the UN General Assembly, Maugai said that states must enforce internationally recognized standards and prevent discrimination. Muigai identified immigrants in particular as bearing the brunt of xenophobic intolerance and warned against characterizing migration as a problem and threat to social cohesion [Reuters report]. Queried about Arizona's recent controversial immigration law, Muigai indicated he felt it equipped the police with too much power to compromise fundamental human rights [WP report]. He called on states to condemn extremist organizations promoting or inciting racial discrimination and acknowledged that passing anti-discrimination legislation alone was not enough. Muigai is set to travel to Bolivia in the coming weeks.

On Monday, a US appeals court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] on Arizona's controversial immigration law [SB 1070 materials] after issuing an injunction [JURIST report] in July preventing its enforcement pending appeal. In October, Bolivian President Evo Morales [official profile, in Spanish] signed a controversial bill into law that permits the government to punish media outlets for publishing racist content [JURIST report]. The law was widely protested [JURIST report] by Bolivian media outlets. In September, the European Commission [official website] warned France that the country would face disciplinary proceedings and potential legal action if it did not follow EU regulations in its relations with Roma [JURIST news archive] migrants after French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official website, in French] ordered measures against illegal Roma communities [JURIST report] in July and announced new legislation aimed at making their deportation easier. Also in July, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) [official website] reported that racist violence and rhetoric has risen [report, PDF] in Europe during 2009, following the recent economic crisis. According to the report, the economic crisis has led to a rise in the unemployment rate and a decrease in social services in many countries, with immigrants being blamed for the resulting hardship [JURIST report].

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