Human rights body recommends ban on racial profiling by gardaí

Tuesday 19 February 2013 11.30
ECRI report says gardaí still engage in racial profiling
ECRI report says gardaí still engage in racial profiling

A key European human rights body has said the Government should consider banning any form of racial profiling by gardaí.

The European Commission on Racism and Intolerance has published a report which also says Travellers still face significant challenges in accessing accommodation in Ireland.

It says local authorities should face binding requirements to provide them with adequate accommodation.

It is the fourth assessment by the Strasbourg-based commission, which is part of the Council of Europe.

The ECRI is a 47-member organisation which promotes human rights and democracy.

The report praises a range of measures via the Equality Tribunal and Equality Authority, which protect employees against discrimination in the work place, and moves to prevent the spread of intolerance and hatred via the media.

However, the report also raises a number of concerns.

It says gardaí still engage in racial profiling, despite the fact, it contends, that the High Court declared as unconstitutional rules requiring non-nationals to show identity papers on demand.

The report also criticises the closure of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism five years ago, saying its expertise helped the authorities compile information about racist incidents.

It also regrets that the National Action Plan Against Racism was not renewed when it expired in 2008.

While the report praises the creation of multi-denominational primary schools it notes that new immigrants still find it hard to access the school system.

CEO of the Integration Centre Killian Forde said Ireland's education system needs to reflect the demographic.

"Not only is 10-12% of school children from an immigrant background but a growing number of the native Irish population are not from a religious background".

Mr Forde said the Centre has begun a campaign to call for a change to legislation that allows schools to legally turn children away on the basis of their religion.

"This practice would be seen to be completely discriminatory were it not enshrined into Irish law."

Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council Denis Charlton said the report was an important input into the debate on racism in Ireland.

She said: "While the recommendations are wide-ranging in general they highlight complacency around racism, which is unacceptable and leaves people vulnerable".

Pavee Point welcomed the report’s focus on the health and accommodation needs of Traveller.

Health Worker Missy Collins said she was “bitterly disappointed” that the Government has not published an action plan to address health issues among Travellers.

Pavee Point Co-Director Martin Collins said: "We have recently witnessed a regression to times past with the burning of the house allocated for a Traveller family in Ballyshannon last week”.

He said there is an urgent need for a National Action Plan Against Racism.

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