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Several NGOs join together to demand that Spanish authorities fulfil their commitment to the Equal Treatment Act pledged before the UN [editar]

Accem, Asociación Rumiñahui, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado, Cruz Roja Española, Fundación Cepaim, Fundación Secretariado Gitano, Movimiento por la Paz-MPDL and Red Acoge

Several NGOs join together to demand that Spanish authorities fulfil their commitment to the Equal Treatment Act pledged before the UN

· Eight organisations dedicated to the fight against all forms of racism have founded the “Alliance for an Equal Treatment Act” to promote the approval of this desperately needed legislation in Spain, which has been in the pipeline for a decade.

· After two failed attempts to enact it in 2011 and 2019, the Spanish Government has pledged to the United Nations Human Rights Council that it will approve the legislation as soon as possible. However, Alliance members fear the process will be paralysed yet again.

· This law is essential to guaranteeing the full enjoyment of all rights and liberties without any form of discrimination. As long as it is not approved, Spain will be "indebted to equality".

Accem, Asociación Rumiñahui, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado, the Spanish Red Cross, Fundación Cepaim, Fundación Secretariado Gitano, Movimiento por la Paz-MPDL and Red Acoge — these civil society organisations leading the fight against racism, xenophobia and anti-gypsyism, today, have disclosed their “Alliance for an Equal Treatment Act”. The aim of this initiative is to provide impetus to a Comprehensive Law on Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination that establishes a system of offences and penalties, whereby perpetrators are obliged to pay compensation for damages caused to victims, an independent authority is created to ensure compliance and violations of fundamental rights are monitored.

Indebted to equality

Numerous European and international institutions fighting to protect human rights have been urging Spain for many years to create a Comprehensive Law on Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination. In several of their reports on Spain, the Human Rights Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination — both of the United Nations — and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) have included their recommendation to approve this legislation, as it is essential to creating an effective regulatory system that addresses all forms of discrimination suffered by many people in our country.

The Criminal Code has added many improvements in recent years to combat hate crimes, the most serious racist attacks. Nevertheless, the most common and everyday forms of discrimination faced by people belonging to non-majority groups are still not covered by the current legislation and do not have their own law on the books, which has been called for since the first bill was introduced in 2011. In response, the members of the Alliance want to appeal to the public for its approval using the hashtag #DeudaConLaIgualdad (#IndebtedToEquality).

Victims without compensation

The entities that make up this Alliance have been working with victims of various forms of racism, xenophobia and anti-gypsyism for many years and are acutely aware of the direct consequences of the absence of an adequate regulatory framework. On many occasions people who suffer rights violations on the basis of their racial or ethnic origin have not been commensurately compensated because there is no system of offences and penalties in place. In some cases, a company superior may urge their employees not to serve people belonging to certain groups, police may use ethnic or racial profiling or individuals may refuse to rent housing to Roma or migrants. These situations cannot be reported to authorities simply because our regulations are insufficient and disjointed and we lack a penalty system for incidents that do not constitute a criminal offence.

On the other hand, there are situations in which, despite filing a criminal complaint, the offender has escaped conviction due to the difficulty of proving that discrimination has taken place. This has happened in cases where Roma or migrants are denied access to restaurants or places of leisure, Roma women are harassed by private security guards in shopping centres and supermarkets or individuals have suffered racial harassment by neighbours.

Pledge by the Spanish Government

This Thursday, the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Spain before the United Nations Human Rights Council will come to an end. As in previous editions, several Countries have included the adoption of a comprehensive Equal Treatment Act in their recommendations. On this occasion, the Spanish Government has emphatically expressed its commitment to pushing this legislation forward, affirming its will to “approve the Comprehensive Law for Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination in the near future”. This will “provide for the creation of a competent Equality Authority that is specifically responsible for promoting and ensuring the effective implementation of this legislation”, and which will have “autonomy, legal personality, its own staff and a budget and will institute a system of offences and penalties".

The members of the Alliance for an Equal Treatment Act hope that, this time, the pledge comes to fruition. They recall that a first version of this legislation was sent to the Spanish Congress of Deputies in 2011, after more than two years of preparatory work involving many civil society organisations. Unfortunately, the proceedings were frustrated by a premature call for elections. Since then several unsuccessful attempts have been made to bring it back to the table.