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Spain urged to take measures against racism

UN Special Rapporteur Mutuma Ruteere [official website] on Monday urged [press release] the Spanish government at every level to increase its focus on addressing the racial intolerance within its borders. Ruteere noted that a successful campaign against racial discrimination and intolerance would only be achieved by "clear and more visible political leadership in combating racism and xenophobia." The statement came after Ruteere's visit to Spain in which he found that the economic crisis in Spain has been one of the causes for scapegoating vulnerable migrants, asylum seekers and minority groups such as the Roma [AI backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. He also noted that the government should take measures to prevent any reversal of progress in the fight against racism and warned the government that failure to combat racial discrimination may result in violence against the affected groups. The minority groups now attacked have been subject to high rate of unemployment, housing challenges and violence. The expert called the government to address the working and living conditions of the migrants by finding comprehensive, long-term solutions.

Racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related intolerance are problems affecting not only Spain but also other countries around the globe. In July Ruteere called on the international community [JURIST report] to be wary of signs of racism that could lead to escalated conflicts and human rights violations. In April the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [official website] published [JURIST report] an opinion that Danish authorities failed to examine possible racist motivations behind an attack on an Iraqi refugee family in Denmark in 2004. Iraqi-born Mahali Dawas, his wife and eight children were attacked in June 2004 in their home in Denmark by up to 35 Danish young people who beat Dawas and his son, damaged the home and shouted racist phrases at the family. In the same month, Statistics Canada [official website] reported that both the number and rate of police-reported hate crimes declined [JURIST report] in 2010 by 18 percent from the previous year. Significantly, the reported crimes stemming from race or ethnicity decreased by 20 percent while those motivated by religion decreased by 17 percent. More than half of all reported hate crimes, however, were found to be motivated by race. During the same week, a group of minorities in France filed a lawsuit alleging police searches are conducted on the basis of racial profiling [JURIST report], according to a statement made by their lawyers and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) [advocacy website]. The suit alleged that French police unfairly single out minority race individuals for searches and identification checks. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] supported a ban on affirmative action [JURIST report] by upholding a 1996 amendment to the California Constitution that bars preferential treatment for "any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."

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