28 March 2012
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On 8 February 2011, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI, a Council of Europe body) published its fourth report on Spain covering the situation in the country in this field until 23 June 2010.
The report's assessment on developments is largely positive in relation to efforts by the Spanish authorities to comply with a number of recommendations issued in previous reports for the purpose of erradicating racism and discrimination, particularly in areas such as sports, lodgings and development projects for the gipsy community, the integration of migrants and combating racial violence and criminal offences.
Nonetheless, a number of areas for criticism remain, including the lack of data on instances of racism and discrimination, the lack of independence of bodies such as the Council for equal treatment and non-discrimination of people on the basis of racial or ethnic origins, the uneven distribution of migrants and gipsy children in schools that are termed "ghettoes", the existence of contradictory guidelines concerning racial profiling and the absence of a commission to investigate allegations of offences by police officers.
Other limits concern legislation that was introduced recently, including the foreigners' law reform that may lead to "discriminatory restrictions" by limiting access to housing aid in equal conditions to Spanish national for "long-term foreign residents", access to higher education to foreigners residing lawfully, the scant opportunities for the Muslim community to build mosques and for their children to have religious teaching based on Islam (although the introduction of a lay "education for citizenship" course is welcomed in the report).
The ECRI report notes that the asylum law reform may be discriminatory in that EU nationals are stripped of the possibility of applying for refugee status (limited to non-EU nationals and stateless people), fast-track asylum proceedings mean that their quality, particularly when it comes to interviews, has diminished, and other shortcomings that are highlighted include a lack of social workers in detention centres or a lack of independent legal counsel for unaccompanied minors during repatriation proceedings.
ECRI, "Cuarto Informe sobre España", 8 February 2011
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