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Racist crime on the up in eight EU states

EU, 31.8.2007 10:02, (Euobserver)

The 27 European Union member states need to do more to ensure equal opportunities for all, the first major report from the EU's recently established Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) urges.

According to the 172-page report on "Racism and Xenophobia in the member states of the EU" to be published on Tuesday (28 August), unequal treatment and ethnic discrimination continues in employment, housing and education.

People face discrimination simply due to their foreign-sounding name, while migrants and Roma often receive unequal treatment in housing and limitation in their right to equal access to education.

Figures in the report also shows that racist violence and crime has increased in a number of the member states in 2006. However, data collection on the issue are still insufficient according to the Agency and it is only possible to really see a trend in 11 of the 27 EU member states.

Racist violence and crime went up in Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, Finland and the UK, while it went down in Austria, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

The remaining EU member states had inadequate data on such violence and crime, while no data was available from Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

"There is ample evidence that racist violence and discrimination persist and in fact are on the increase in parts of the EU," said Anastasia Crickley from FRA.

"We must guarantee equal rights for everyone - not just on paper, but also in practice," she added.

The agency argues however, that the EU's legislation on racial equality is gradually stimulating positive change.

EU law
In 2000 the EU agreed to a race directive implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, and which each member state was required to incorporate within domestic law.

The Vienna-based agency started its work in March this year and was built on the former European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, which came out with an annual report the issue.

As previous reports on racism and xenophobia also have suggested, the new report points out that "there are continuing disturbing reports of violence and malpractice against vulnerable minorities by agents of the state - namely police, immigration and border control personnel."

By Helena Spongenberg
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