Intervention to the 2008 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting by the SOVA Center. Working Session "Tolerance and Non-Discrimination I"
The SOVA Center for Information and Analysis took part in the 2008 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw. We publish the text of the intervention made on October 1, 2008, by Alexander Verkhovsky at the working session "Tolerance and Non-Discrimination."
1. Create more unified guidelines for state monitoring of occurrences of racism and discrimination.
Naturally, the differences in legal systems and customary treatment of such occurrences will not allow for total unification that would have made the norms and the accomplishments in this area completely comparable. However, it is necessary to strive for at least the possibility of comparison for some items. This is important not because we need some kind of a country rating, but because it be a step toward universalizing the achievement of human rights.
2. Create a relatively unified OSCE-wide system for training community activists working in the area of racism and discrimination.
The non-government sector already boasts many highly qualified specialists, but there is still much room for education, especially among activists from ethnic and youth organizations. The traditions of resisting racism and discrimination are different in different countries, but it is necessary to introduce universal human rights and anti-discrimination values and norms, which are currently accepted by community activists only in the broadest of terms.
3. Expand training for police, migration services, etc., on the subject of hate crimes and discrimination, in particular, on the subject of racial profiling. Among others, press secretaries must also participate in such trainings.
Police and other law enforcement agencies are not just one of the basic instruments for resisting racism and discrimination. To the public, law enforcement agencies are also, in many cases, the chief representative of the state; the police's behavior is perceived as a signal from the state, as the norm accepted by society. In particular, police press secretaries are one of the main sources of negative ethnic stereotypes in mass media.
4. Sum up the experience already gained by National Institutions to Combat Intolerance and Discrimination (NIADs).
Such a review would help member states without their own NIADs to create such institutions and those with their own NIADs to perfect their operations.
To OSCE Member States:
1. Countries without NIADs and/or national strategies and action plans in this field must create them.
There is an overall sound argument against the creation of NIADs, which is that it is impossible to create a new institution for solving every problem and to endlessly redistribute the authority of state agencies. However, experience shows that it is difficult to assign the necessary priority to the issues and breaches of law connected with racism and discrimination within the scope of existing state institutions.
2. Countries without a system that allows to record suspicions of racism and discrimination during the initial registering of criminal and/or other incidents must create such a system.
Registering such suspicion at later stages of investigation is not always possible; besides, investigations may never progress to these later stages without the initial suspicion, if we are talking about non-criminal discrimination.