By Waylon Fairbanks
DESPITE TAKING necessary measures, Cyprus has failed to effectively combat racial discrimination, a United Nations report finds.
Last week, a government delegation presented a report on its measures to fight racial discrimination to a panel of experts, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Yesterday, CERD released a report concluding its observations on Cyprus, which contained praise, concerns and recommendations.
While CERD praised Cyprus for the legislative and institutional advances enacted since its last examination in 2001, the report attacked Cyprus’ actual implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
“The Committee recommends that the State party raise the awareness of judges, lawyers and law enforcement officers on international norms on racial discrimination,” concluded the report. Cyprus’ inability to carry out its laws and international agreements featured throughout the report.
Even the existing discrimination laws in Cyprus were scrutinised by the report.
“Cyprus must address the lack of coherence and the fragmentation of legislation relating to racial discrimination by consolidating the relevant laws into a comprehensive and internally consistent legal framework,” the report stated.
One of Cyprus’ major obstacles in enforcing ICERD is the fact that Cyprus does not exercise control over all its territory, the report said. In the next report, due January 2016, CERD wants detailed every effort possible to solve the Cyprus problem, thus increasing the island’s ability to protect vulnerable groups.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted ICERD in 1965 and currently has 176 signatory parties. As part of its membership in the Convention, Cyprus must undergo regular assessments of its efforts to tackle racial discrimination.
As in other parts of Europe, the economic crisis has facilitated the rise of rightist groups. Both the committee meeting last week and the CERD report warned Cyprus to monitor the discriminatory practices of such groups – warning of neo-Nazism in Cyprus.
CERD targeted domestic workers as another major issue of racial discrimination in Cyprus. With foreign residents accounting for 19 per cent of the Cyprus’ population – many of whom work in the domestic sector – the report outlined several measures to reduce complaints received by domestic workers.
Cyprus, in addition to ratifying ICERD, has taken several vital steps toward reducing racial discrimination, the report said. However, Cypriot law is still inadequate in preventing discriminatory practice, CERD asserted, and without significant initiative to address these issues, racial discrimination may persist in Cypriot society.