International Convention: UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issues findings on Lebanon and Netherlands

Geneva, 1 September ,2021.- The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has issued its findings on Lebanon and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the two States parties which it examined during its latest session.

The findings contain positive aspects of each country’s implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as well as the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations. Some of the key highlights include:

The Committee remained concerned about kafala, the sponsorship system that requires migrant workers, in particular domestic workers, to have a sponsor, usually their employer, who is responsible for their visa and legal status in Lebanon. The system results in exploitation, in particular non-payment of wages, long working hours, confiscation of passports, as well as psychological and physical abuse. CERD reiterated its recommendations that the State party abolish the sponsorship system and replace it with new labour regulations, based on standards set by the International Labour Organization.

In the light of rising racist hate speech against migrants and refugees, the Committee urged the State party to amend its legislation to prohibit hate speech and to step up its efforts to cooperate with Internet service providers and social media platforms to curb the spread of racist and abusive messages online.

CERD was concerned about refugees, in particular Syrians, who have been victims of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment in detention centres or refugee camps. The Committee urged the State party to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees are not detained arbitrarily and that all alleged cases of torture or ill-treatment are investigated and all perpetrators are prosecuted accordingly.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Committee expressed concern at police profiling based on ethnicity, descent and skin colour, during traffic controls, identity checks, preventive searches and border stops. It recommended that the State party amend its legislation to ban racial profiling; and take measures to ensure that all complaints of racial profiling are registered and followed up on.

While welcoming the establishment of the Dutch complaints office for online discrimination (Meldpunt internetdiscriminatie), the Committee was concerned that a high number of expressions of hate speech remain online for weeks, months and even years. CERD called on the authorities to ensure that the complaints office is empowered to proactively identify discriminatory online content and request its removal.

As minorities continue to face racial discrimination in many areas of life including employment, housing, education, health and social care, the Committee recommended that the Dutch government increase equitable representation of ethnic minorities in elected bodies and the public sector, and ensure that minorities are consulted during the formulation of new policies and legislation that will affect them.

The above findings, officially named Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session webpage.E

CERD is due to hold its next session from 15 November to 3 December.

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