The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has published conclusions on the implementation of a number of recommendations made in its country reports on Finland, the Republic of Moldova, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Russian Federation and San Marino which had been released in 2013.
As part of the fourth round of ECRI’s monitoring work, a new process of interim follow-up has been introduced with respect to up to three recommendations made in each of ECRI’s country reports. Two years following the publication of each report, ECRI addresses a communication to the Government concerned asking what has been done in connection with the recommendations for which priority follow-up was requested.
On the basis of the response from the Government and information gathered from other sources, ECRI draws up its conclusions on the way in which its recommendations have been followed up. These conclusions concern only the priority recommendations and do not aim at providing a comprehensive analysis of all developments in the fight against racism and intolerance in the State concerned.
Through the interim follow-up procedure, ECRI seeks to assist Council of Europe member States in fine-tuning their response to the recommendations made in its country reports.
1.In its report on Finland (fourth monitoring cycle) published on 9 July 2013, ECRI recommended that the authorities extend the Ombudsman for Minorities’ field of activity by empowering her to bring matters before the courts propio motu and to deal with complaints of discrimination on grounds of skin colour, language, religion or “race”. ECRI also recommends that the Finnish authorities permit the Ombudsman for Minorities to open local and regional branch offices. ECRI stresses the need for the Ombudsman for Minorities to be provided with the requisite human and financial resources to allow the implementation of these recommendations.
The new Non-discrimination Act (1325/2014) entered into force on 1 January 2015. In this connection, the Ombudsman for Minorities was replaced by a Non-discrimination Ombudsman with broader terms of reference. While the former Ombudsman only dealt with cases of discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin, the new Ombudsman’s mandate covers a wider range of prohibited grounds of discrimination, inter alia, ethnic or national origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics. The authorities consider that, although skin colour is not explicitly listed as an enumerated ground, it is covered by the term “other personal characteristics”.
The new Non-discrimination Ombudsman can receive and process complaints related to discrimination on the grounds enumerated in the new Non-discrimination Act, but it cannot bring cases before the courts propio motu. The financial and human resources of the new Ombudsman were increased, compared to the Ombudsman for Minorities, but it remains to be seen if they are sufficient given the broader mandate of the new institution. The new Ombudsman does, for the time being, not have any local or regional offices.
ECRI considers that this recommendation has been partially implemented.