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United Nations urges Spain to take measures against the “disproportionate inequalities” and “persistent discrimination and school segregation” that affects the Roma community
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The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has published a damning report on Spain’s implementation of economic, social and cultural rights. In its concluding observations the Committee points at Roma as one of the most disadvantaged groups in Spain and expresses concern about the specific situation that affects the enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights

05/04/2018
FSG

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United Nations urges Spain to take measures against the “disproportionate inequalities” and “persistent discrimination and school segregation” that affects the Roma community <br>
  • UN Committee published yesterday its concluding observations assessing Spain´s compliance with its human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • The Committee considers the Roma minority as one of the most disadvantaged groups in Spain and expresses concern about the specific situation that affects the enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights
  • Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG), as a member of the DESC-Spain Platform, has taken part in the preparation of one of the alternative reports submitted to the United Nations by civil society organisations

As a State party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Spain is required to submit regular reports to the Committee outlining the legislative, judicial, policy and other measures they have taken to implement the rights set out in the treaty. After its last session on 21 and 22 March, the Committee published yesterday its concluding observations on the rights record of Spain, which contain the main matters of concern as well as concrete recommendations.

In its concluding observations to Spain, the Committee repeatedly refers to the situation of inequality and discrimination against Roma people, singling them out one of the most vulnerable groups in Spain. 


Justiciability of the Covenant rights

The Committee recommends that the State party adopt the necessary legislative measures to ensure that these rights enjoy the same level of legal protection as the civil and political rights and take necessary steps to render them justiciable in domestic courts, including the possibility of appeal before the Constitutional Court.

The Committee also recommends that the State party establish an effective national mechanism for the implementation and follow up of the recommendations made by this Committee.

 

Austerity measures 

The Committee understands that the State is in a process of post-crisis economic recovery but is seriously concerned about the disproportionate adverse impact that austerity measures, are having on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by the most disadvantaged individuals and groups that has contributed to widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Therefore, it urges the State party to "ensure that the austerity measures applied are temporary, necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory, and respect the core content of the rights, so that they do not disproportionately affect the rights of the most disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups”.  

The Committee also recommends that the State carry out "a thorough evaluation of the effects of such measures on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in particular by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, such as Roma".  

Non-discrimination  

The Committee is concerned that Act 62/2003, which transposes the Race Equality Directive 2000/43/EC, "is little-known and incomplete, it does not protect against multiple forms of discrimination nor does it provide for adequate sanctions and procedural safeguards. This means that Spain does not have a comprehensive legislation on non-discrimination. In addition, the Committee is concerned that the measures adopted have not allowed to effectively combat the persistent de facto discrimination against certain groups, among others, the Roma community.    

Therefore, the Committee urges the State "to adopt a comprehensive non-discrimination Act that guarantees sufficient protection, and that, among other things, explicitly includes all prohibited grounds of discrimination listed in Article 2, para. 2 of the Covenant; provides a definition of multiple discrimination, direct and indirect discrimination according to the obligations of the State party under the Covenant; prohibits discrimination in both the public and private spheres; and includes provisions to obtain redress in cases of discrimination”. It also recommends that it "redouble its efforts to prevent and combat persistent discrimination, particularly against Roma (...), even by carrying out awareness raising campaigns." 

Unemployment

While the Committee acknowledges the State´s efforts to promote the creation of jobs, and welcomes the rise in the employment rate, "it is concerned that unemployment continues to be high and disproportionately affect young people, women, Roma and migrant workers". The Committee recommends that the State party undertake a thorough evaluation of its labour market policies, and carry out the necessary adjustments to effectively combat the root causes of unemployment. It also recommends that it continue its efforts for the effective implementation of the Spanish Employment Activation Strategy 2017-2020, among others, paying due attention to the groups disproportionately affected by unemployment. "Right to Education

Although the Committee acknowledges the efforts undertaken by the State to improve the quality of Education, it expresses concern about the high rates of grade repetition in secondary school and early school leaving. Despite of a slight decline, the rates of early school leaving in Spain remains the second highest in the European Union and disproportionately affects children belonging to more disadvantaged groups, in particular Roma children and adolescents. The CESCR is also concerned about "the persistent school segregation that, in some cases, is a result of residential segregation, and that particularly affects disadvantaged and minority groups such as Roma and migrants". Therefore, the Committee urges Spain to "continue to reduce the rates of early school leaving and grade repetition in secondary school, adopting a strategy that addresses the socioeconomic factors that may influence the decisions to prematurely leave education and pay due attention to the most affected groups, in particular to Roma children and adolescents, migrants ".

It also calls on the State to "intensify its efforts to combat school segregation, including that resulting from residential segregation that disproportionately affects Roma children and adolescents, as well as migrants."

 

Cultural rights

Finally, the Committee expresses its concern that "the dissemination and promotion of the cultural identity and historical legacy of the Roma population continues to be limited", and urges the State to "favor the promotion, conservation, expression and dissemination of cultural identity and historical legacy of the Roma community ".

From Fundación Secretariado Gitano we share the analysis of the Committee with regards to the situation of the Roma community and the areas where they face serious and "disproportionate" inequalities, the "persistent" discrimination and school segregation, as well as the need to promote the cultural identity and the historical legacy of the Roma people.

We are pleased to have contributed to having the economic, social and cultural rights of Roma people taken into consideration in the monitoring processes and mechanisms established by international organizations such as the United Nations. We now trust that Spain will take the steps to implement the Committee's Recommendations to meet its international obligations.

 

More information:

The report is available here (under “Concluding Observations”) (only in Spanish).

Consideration of Spain - 16th Meeting 63rd Session Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – Watch video

 

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