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Combating structural racism requires structural solutions [editar]

Statement of Fundación Secretariado Gitano on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 21 March 2023


Combating structural racism requires structural solutions

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) would like to highlight recent progress in the fight against antigypsyism, both in Spain and in Europe, and to point out the main pending issues.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) would like to highlight recent progress in the fight against antigypsyism, both in Spain and in Europe, and to point out the main pending issues.

In the case of Spain, we would like to welcome the approval in July 2022 of the Comprehensive Law for Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination. The approval of this law, for which the FSG has been fighting for years, represents an important step forward for the protection of the right to equality, and its effective application will have a very special impact on the Roma community, one of the groups that faces the most discrimination. Among other positive aspects, the law incorporates an administrative sanctioning regime for those discriminatory incidents that do not constitute a crime, including cases of intersectional discrimination, which are taken into account for the application of reparation measures and sanctions. In addition, this law also marks an important milestone by incorporating, through a final provision, antigypsyism in the criminal code, as one of the specific grounds that can give rise to a hate crime.

However, we regret that the Independent Authority envisaged by this Law, which was to be created before 14 January last, to protect and promote equal treatment and non-discrimination, has still not been set up. In order to fulfil this purpose, it was granted powers, among others, to assist victims, investigate, mediate, take legal action or issue opinions urging the competent administrations to impose sanctions. Without this body, as we have seen in our work of assisting victims of racism and antigypsyism, the Equal Treatment Law cannot be effectively applied in most cases, remaining a dead letter for many victims. Therefore, and as we have requested in the framework of the Alliance for the Equal Treatment, we urge the government to create this body as soon as possible.

With regard to hate speech and social networks, we note that the internet continues to be one of the main spaces for the dissemination of racist speech. Precisely today, March 21, we sign a Social Pact against hate speech together with other social entities from all over Spain to promote a more determined commitment of the institutions against this type of speech, and to reach in the future a National Pact in the fight against hate speech.

At the European level, it should be recalled that in 2020 the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan 2020-2025 was approved, which sets out a series of measures to combat racism and includes antigypsyism as one of the types of racism to be tackled by both the European institutions and the Member States. This Plan called on Member States to draw up and adopt national plans against racism by 2022. We regret that in the case of Spain this Plan, which we consider essential to implement concrete measures against racism in all its forms, has not yet been approved.

This European Plan marked an important step forward by recognising for the first time in a European instrument of this scale the existence of structural racism. Our view is that structural racism requires structural solutions. Beyond individual cases of discrimination and antigypsyism, in which personalised attention and an appropriate response from key institutions and actors is essential, there are structural situations that require a more complex approach: school segregation, which disproportionately affects Roma pupils, and the existence of numerous substandard housing and slums settlements, where most of the inhabitants are Roma, are examples of situations of structural antigypsyism that require a comprehensive approach, with specific long-term plans, significant economic investment, human resources and the coordinated involvement of local, regional and state authorities.

We therefore call on the Spanish Government and the European Authorities to continue its commitment to the fight against antigypsyism, as a specific form of racism, with an intersectional and structural approach, taking into account the situations of antigypsyism that many Roma still suffer today.

United Nations
(text from UN webpage)

The 2023 theme of the International Day focuses on the urgency of combatting racism and racial discrimination, 75 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Seventy-five years ago, for the first time, the international community agreed on a set of common values and acknowledged that rights are inherent to every single human being and not granted by the State. These rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a blueprint for international human rights norms.

The UDHR states that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind, such as race and colour, among others. However, racism and racial discrimination continue to affect people all over the world.

The commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the UDHR should give States an impetus to take prompt and robust steps, in law and in practice, to advance equality and combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has invited all States, as part of the Human Rights 75 initiative, to combat racial discrimination by committing to take specific and urgent actions.