Equinet has released its Annual Report for the year 2012. Adopting a new design compared to previous years, the report aims to highlight the need for standards to support the work of equality bodies and key insights from the work of equality bodies in tackling under-reporting through good communication strategies and practices. It also illustrates how our network works, what are our main objectives, and the main activities and milestones from 2012.
The Need for Standards to Support Equality Bodies
Equinet raised a number of important issues related to the need for standards to support equality bodies:
- Architecture: Some Member States have an equality body that is predominantly quasi judicial, others have an equality body that primarily provides legal supports to those who experience discrimination and takes initiatives to promote equality and some have both types of equality body. There needs to be some assessment as to the most effective institutional architecture.
- Legal structure: The legal structure of equality bodies varies from stand-alone structures to forming part of Government Ministries to being part of a body with a broader mandate. Consideration needs to be given to the most effective legal structure of, form of accountability for, and manner of making appointments to equality bodies.
- Powers and functions: Deficits have been identified in the powers and functions of equality bodies. Equality bodies need to have a coherent set of powers and functions in relation to all grounds covered by the Directives. Support to victims of discrimination needs to be defined to include the provision of legal advice and support. Equality bodies need to be able to take cases in their own name, implement inquiries, and quasi-judicial equality bodies need to be empowered to impose sanctions that are dissuasive and legally binding.
- Mergers: A number of equality bodies have recently been merged with human rights institutions or have taken on human rights responsibilities. How these merged bodies could best address discrimination issues needs to be determined.
- Resources: Many equality bodies have experienced significant reductions in their resources. They need to have the resources necessary to implement all their powers effectively if they are to realise their potential.
- Regression: Equality bodies that go beyond the requirements of the Directives need to be protected from any regression in their powers, functions and legal structure.
- Standards: Standards for the independence, effectiveness and operation of equality bodies are key in ensuring they can realise their significant potential.
Continue reading about these issues on page 3 of the 2012 Equinet Annual Report.
Tackling Under-Reporting of Discrimination Through Better Communications
Good communication strategies and practices need to be at the heart of any adequate response to under-reporting. In Equinet’s view such a communications response should aim:
- To inform members of groups experiencing discrimination about their rights and how to exercise them. This includes finding the right channels of communication for different groups experiencing discrimination and conducting outreach activities to these groups.
- To build confidence among members of groups experiencing discrimination in exercising their rights. Trust needs to be built in the equality body. Equality body processes need to be accessible. Complainants need to know what will happen once they make a complaint and the process needs to be predictable. Groups experiencing discrimination need to hear about successful cases.
- To build a culture of rights in society. Equality bodies need to contribute to a wider culture in society that is positively disposed to diversity and to people challenging discrimination.
This framework was inspired by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights report on "Access to Justice", containing a complex and highly useful examination of under-reporting. Continue reading about this issue at page 4 of the 2012 Equinet Annual Report.
"Learning and showing the way forward in combating discrimination and promoting equal treatment requires collecting data on the work of equality bodies in a systematic way. Equinet’s Working Group on Policy Formation is a very good platform for doing this, while at the same time providing invaluable insights through the group’s outputs for other stakeholders committed to equal treatment."
Testimonial for Annual Report 2012 from Ms. Mandana Zarrehparvar, Member of the Equinet Working Group on policy Formation and Senior Adviser at the Danish Institute for Human Rights
Activities, Initiatives and Milestones
The Annual report 2012 contains relevant information on the achievements and progress made to strengthen the policy dialogue with EU partners and stakeholders, and to effectively support the work of national equality bodies. It also presents the initiatives undertaken by Equinet to ensure networking between, and capacity building of member organisations.
Other sections of the Annual Report include Equinet at a glance, a List of Equinet Membersand information about their institutional profiles, a Timeline of 2012, and information on ways to follow Equinet’s work through our main Channels of Communication.
Downloadable documents :
You can also order free hardcopies of the report by using the online order form.