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Nine NGOs will offer the Service of Advice and Assistance to Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, coordinated by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano. [editar]

On 1st April the signing of the contract was announced in the Official State Gazette.

13/04/2020
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Nine NGOs will offer the Service of Advice and Assistance to Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, coordinated by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano.

This service has been provided since 2013 by ACCEM, CEAR, Cruz Roja Española, Fundación CEPAIM, Fundación Secretariado Gitano, Movimiento contra la Intolerancia, Movimiento por la Paz -MPDL and Red Acoge. Starting from now, the Asociación Rumiñahui will also be involved. The joint bid by these NGOs to provide the service was selected to fulfil the requirements imposed by European legislation designed to fight discrimination.

 

On 1st April, the signing of the contract to provide the Service of Advice and Assistance to Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination was announced in the Official State Gazette. This announcement concluded the public tendering process for this service, which had begun with the publication of the invitation to tender on the Platform for Government Contracts on 27th September 2019. It is not the first time that a joint tender has been accepted from these organisations, which are well-known for their work in the area of racial or ethnic discrimination. The policy of hiring organisations which habitually work with potential victims of racial or ethnic discrimination – and which have thus formed the necessary bonds of trust – has been in place since 2009, when the Service was created.

What is the Service of Advice and Assistance to Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination?

It is a free, nationwide service of advice and assistance to victims of racial or ethnic discrimination, which must be provided by the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination. This is a collegiate body currently affiliated to the Ministry for Equality, General Directorate for Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination on the Grounds of Racial or Ethnic Origin. It was created in 2009 to fulfil the requirements of article 13.1 of Directive 2000/43/CE, regarding the application of the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin.

Article 13.2 of this Directive obliges equality organisations created by member states to provide “independent assistance to victims of discrimination in pursuing their complaints about discrimination”. In the case of Spain, the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination at first opted to sign a contract with a number of NGOs which, as in the case of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano, were members of this collegiate body. However, since 2013 the State has been issuing public invitations to tender for the service, so that any organisation or company is able to present a bid.  This group of NGOs, all well-known for their work in promoting equal treatment, and all members of the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, have presented a tender on each occasion, and have been selected to provide the service every time.

Who provides the service?

This service has always been provided by various organisations working together. Until now, the organisations providing the service have numbered eight in total, each being well-known for their work to promote equal treatment: ACCEM, CEAR, Cruz Roja Española, Fundación CEPAIM, Fundación Secretariado Gitano, Movimiento contra la Intolerancia, Movimiento por la Paz -MPDL and Red Acoge.

At the last invitation to tender, the group of organisations providing the service agreed to bring in a new organisation, also a Council member: the Asociación Rumiñahui. This means that the service will be better able to reach a significant group of victims of racial or ethnic discrimination in our country, which is Spain’s Latin American community. The number of NGOs providing the Service of Advice and Assistance to Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination will therefore now increase to a total of nine.   

As the legislation relating to the public tendering process does not allow for the presentation of joint tenders, the Fundación Secretariado Gitano appears as the main tenderer, with the other NGOs as subcontractors. In addition, the Fundación Secretariado Gitano is responsible for Service coordination which includes, among other tasks, the management of all non-face-to-face channels of communication (web page, email, freephone service) and the production of reports, both quarterly and annual, which are required under the contract signed with the Administration. The Fundación also has responsibility for providing ongoing training to all technical staff working in the Service’s official offices and for ensuring the Service operates correctly, as well as for organising awareness-raising activities and training key agents in the fight against discrimination.

Where is the Service located?

The Service is available across the whole Spanish territory and is delivered at its 20 official offices, one in each autonomous community, except for Andalucia where there are two. There is also an office in the autonomous city of Melilla and a general coordinating office in Madrid. As well as these official offices, which are required under our contract with the Administration, many of the NGOs’ own offices act as points of access to the Service, thus contributing their own resources to increasing and improving the assistance offered to victims of discrimination. In addition, there are other channels for communication with the Service (web contact, email and freephone service) to ensure that all victims of racial or ethnic discrimination in the territory of Spain are able to access this advice and assistance easily.

How are victims of racial and ethnic discrimination advised and assisted?

The service offers independent guidance and support to people who are experiencing or have experienced discrimination on the grounds of their racial or ethnic origin in any sphere (education, health, housing, employment, police services, etc). When a discriminatory incident occurs, the victims are offered a personal service, informing them of the steps to be taken, and always acting with the victim’s express consent and guaranteeing their privacy, in accordance with the data protection laws currently in force. 

The Service providers continuously monitor the case until it is closed, always with a view to obtaining redress for the person or group of people who have experienced discrimination.

Once the person experiencing discrimination has been interviewed and it has been confirmed that there exist clear signs of discrimination, the victim is offered, according to the circumstances, the following possible responses:

  • Discussion / Negotiation: conversation with whoever appears to be responsible for the discrimination (the discriminating agent), to hear their version of events and compare it with the information provided by the possible victim.
  • Mediation: the organisation acts as an impartial mediator, enabling a process of communication to take place in order to reach a conclusion with which both parties will be satisfied. Both parties must agree to mediation taking place.
  • Extra-judicial action: when the case has not been resolved through discussion or mediation, measures short of court action may be taken, such as presenting a complaint to an ombudsman’s office (at state or autonomous community level), to a consumer organisation or to an inspection service, or using administrative procedures, meetings, joint actions with other relevant organisations, notices, etc.

The last invitation to tender for the Service of Advice and Assistance to Victims of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination also allows for the possibility of “legal action and representation of victims, with their express consent and the authorisation of the DGITD (General Directorate for Equal Treatment and Diversity), and after consultation with the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, in cases where the circumstances and their social impact lend the cases strategic importance”. This satisfies a historic demand from these organisations, as well as the recommendations of international and European organisations, which have urged Spain to ensure that the Service offers the possibility of strategic litigation in landmark cases of racial or ethnic discrimination.

What resources are at the disposal of the organisations offering the Service in this new phase?

The total budget available to the NGOs offering the Service of Advice and Assistance to Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination over the next two years stands at 839,268 euros (419,634 euros annually). This sum is essentially intended to cover the costs of the following material and human resources, in accordance with the specified technical requirements:

  • The maintenance of the premises of the 20 official offices.
  • Technical staff who are specialised in combating racial or ethnic discrimination, with academic university qualifications which are relevant to the provision of this service: there is one person in each office who contributes 12 hours a week to the Service.
  • To ensure that the training of these technical staff is kept up-to-date, they are provided with an ongoing training plan including at least one training session per year.
  • The maintenance of all electronic channels of communication with victims, including 35 hours per week of direct attention by telephone provided by specialised staff.
  • Publicity and promotion of the Service, using leaflets and disseminating information on social networks and the web pages of the organisations.
  • The creation and maintenance of a database where all cases are registered, including details of the victims’ circumstances and any actions taken. 
  • The provision of training to key agents in the fight against discrimination: communications professionals, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, NGO professionals, security and administrative personnel and those working in educational institutions.
  • The hiring of lawyers and the payment of procedural costs in cases where, as indicated above, strategic litigation is pursued.

How many cases of discrimination has the Service assisted with?

Since 15th March 2013, when the Service began to be provided by various NGOs working jointly, and until the last contract with the Administration ended on 13th October 2019, the Service saw 3,868 cases of discrimination. This involved working with 4,022 direct victims (although in many cases the precise victims cannot be identified). The Service also carried out 1,177 awareness-raising actions in which 54,283 people participated, a total which can be broken down as follows:

The work of the network of organisations providing the Service of Advice and Assistance to Victims of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination has received international recognition from the Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), which in its most recent report on Spain “welcomes” the existence of the network and the work it does to support and advise victims of discrimination.

 

 
Individual Cases
Collective Cases
Total Cases
Awareness-raising actions
Direct Impact on people
Annual Report 2013
231
145
376
140
900
Annual Report 2014
389
287
676
160
1100
Annual Report 2015
123
99
222
57
2553
Annual Report 2016
381
250
631
37
6359
Annual Report 2017
370
276
646
240
10760
Annual Report 2018
416
313
729
333
10996
Annual Report 2019
378
210
588
210
21615
Total
2.288
1580
3.868
1177
54.283

 

 

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