Northern Ireland: Amnesty calls for action on racism after critical European report
Amnesty International has welcomed a report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI). The report, published today, notes that people in Northern Ireland have less protection against racial discrimination than other parts of the UK and called for a single comprehensive equality law and action to end ‘two-tier’ levels of security from discrimination.
Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan, said:
“This expert body has highlighted at an international level what we already know locally: that Northern Ireland has a racism problem and that the government needs to do more better protect people against racial discrimination. Specifically, it has highlighted how Northern Ireland lags behind the rest of the UK when it comes to equality protection under the law.
“We won't crack the racism problem by chance, only by concerted government action. That’s why Amnesty is calling for the Northern Ireland Executive to commit to a Single Equality Bill in the new Programme for Government.”
The UK government committed a decade ago to work towards a single equality law, but the report notes:
“There are significant gaps between equality law in Great Britain and in Northern Ireland.
“For example, the current race equality legislation in Northern Ireland provides for a ‘two-tier’ level of protection, with less protection against discrimination on grounds of colour and nationality than on grounds of race, ethnic or national origins.”
The Equality Act 2010 does not apply to Northern Ireland, where comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation has yet to be adopted. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance is an expert body of the 47-nation Council of Europe.