CERD stands for the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination). ECRI prepares reports and issues recommendations to Council of Europe Member States based on its findings during monitoring periods. ECRI was established by Heads of State at a Council of Europe summit in 1993.
Who runs CERD?
CERD is a body of the Council of Europe and comprises 47 individuals based on the independence, impartiality, moral authority and expertise they have demonstrated in dealing with issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, anti-semitism and intolerance. Each Council of Europe member state appoints one person to serve in ECRI.
What does ECRI do?
Country Monitoring - In its country monitoring work ECRI analyses the situation closely in each of the member states and makes recommendations for dealing with any problems of racism and intolerance identified there. A contact visit is organised before the preparation of each new country report in order to obtain as comprehensive a picture as possible of the situation in the member state concerned. The country in question is usually asked to prepare a written report on a number of issues identified by ECRI in advance of the visit. During the visit an ECRI delegation meets key players in the fight against racism and intolerance. All countries dealt with on an equal footing. The work is organised in rounds with 9 to 10 countries are visited per year. ECRI’s country monitoring programme is currently in its 5th round.
Other Work - ECRI works on general themes producing General Policy Recommendations applicable to all Council of Europe States. ECRI also engages with civil society organisations and it maintains special relations with independent authorities responsible for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at national level (specialised bodies) and with relevant intergovernmental bodies, such as the European Union, the United Nations and the OSCE.
Ireland and ECRI
In July 2018, ECRI completed it 5th monitoring visit Ireland. Prior to the visit, the ECRI delegation sought an update on key recommendations which were given priority in the 4th ECRI Monitoring Report for Ireland published in 2013.
These three key recommendations, which ECRI requested Ireland give maximum priority to, were as follows:
ECRI recommends that the authorities draft and adopt as soon as possible the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill so as to, inter alia,
Put in place one procedure for dealing with applications for asylum and subsidiary protection
Introduce a long-term residence status (granting same rights as those enjoyed by nationals in the field of university education)
Introduce procedures for registration of non-national minors under 16.
ECRI recommends that the authorities, without neglecting the need to rationalise the various procedures for dealing with complaints concerning employment, ensure that there is an independent authority (other than the courts) competent to deal with cases of discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
ECRI recommends that the authorities ensure foreseeability in the application of the habitual residence requirement by setting out clear rules and publishing, in addition to the Guidelines, the decisions of the authorities dealing with appeals against negative decisions based on the requirement in question.
5th Monitoring Cycle:
The 5th cycle of ECRI’s country monitoring focused on four main themes: legislative issues, hate speech, violence and integration policies. The monitoring visit also dealt with topics specific to Ireland and, in particular, with follow-up to the interim recommendations adopted in the previous cycles. LGBT issues were addressed in the 5th round when they arose in connection with themes such as hate speech, violence and discrimination.
The ECRI delegation attended a number of meetings with government departments in order to develop a clearer understanding around the key issues in the thematic areas. They also arranged to conduct meetings with relevant NGOs independently. The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration served as the national liaison office for ECRI during their visit.
The ECRI delegation met with representatives from: Workplace Relations Commission; Director of Public Prosecution; Criminal Law Reform (Dept. of Justice and Equality); An Garda Síochána; Press Ombudsman; Broadcasting Authority of Ireland; RIA (Dept. of Justice and Equality); Dept. of Health; Health Service Executive; Dept of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; INIS (Dept. of Justice and Equality); IRPP (Dept. of Justice and Equality); Equality Division (Dept. of Justice and Equality); Dept. of Children and Youth Affairs; Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission; Dept. of Education and Skills; Office of the Children’s Ombudsman and the Ombudsman.
The report of the visit will include both interim issues (to be addressed within two years of the report being published) other issues that should be addressed prior to the next monitoring round. The draft report on Ireland will be examined by ECRI at its plenary session between 4 and 7 December 2018 before being shared with the Irish government for review and response prior to its final adoption and transmission to the government of Ireland.