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Europe must combat racist extremism and uphold human rights
Posted By admin On May 13, 2013 @ 1:00 pm In Uncategorized | Comments Disabled
Europe has been experiencing a worrying intensification of activities of racist extremist organisations, including political parties. According to some commentators, the upsurge has even reached the point of “an early form of far right terror”.
It worries me deeply that the European community and national political leaders appear not to be fully aware of the serious threat that these organisations pose to the rule of law and human rights.
The philosophy of racist extremist organisations is centred on denying the entitlement of “others” – mainly migrants and members of national, ethnic and religious minorities – to human rights and fundamental freedoms. They invent “enemies” who have to be fought and eliminated.
In Greece, for example, between October 2011 and December 2012 around 220 racist attacks were reported to the Racist Violence Recording Network headed by UNHCR and the National Commission for Human Rights. That is about one attack every other day. In my recent report  concerning Greece I underlined the need to curb hate crime and combat impunity for hate crimes.
Influencing national parliaments
The phenomenon is all the more serious as it is paired with an increased influence of racist extremist political parties in national parliaments and governments, and endeavours by these parties to strengthen their position at European level through alliances.
For example in Hungary, Jobbik, self-described as “radically patriotic”, entered the parliament in 2010 as the third largest party. In Sweden polls show a rise in popularity for the Sweden Democrats (SD), a party with neo-Nazi roots, and the same goes for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece.
This political presence lends legitimacy and credibility to political extremism that is often linked to racist and other hate crimes. The main targets are migrants and Muslims, as well as particularly vulnerable social groups such as Roma and other minorities. Many such cases are recorded, for example in Hungary , Italy  and Serbia .
Low awareness among politicians and law-enforcement
European political parties and national parliaments should be more aware of this trend. Instead, on many occasions political leaders, through their statements and policies, add force to racist extremism expressed by xenophobic and intolerant far-right political organisations.
Some serious cases also point to failures on the part of the police and intelligence services to adequately address racist extremism. For example in Germany members of the National Socialist Underground murdered 10 persons  between 2000 and 2007 without the police connecting the dots. The same thing happened in Sweden where a man shot seven persons , two of them fatally, in 2009-10. For a long time the murders were described as “gang-related” by the police.
What should be done
A human rights based approach necessary
Racist violence, as opposed to other forms of violence, has a broader destructive impact on human dignity and social cohesion. This is why it should be treated more seriously than other forms of violence and extremism.
Individuals and organisations involved in such acts are a threat to the pillars of democracy. They erode human rights to which democratic countries adhere, and undermine the rule of law. States have to ensure the protection of human rights through the eradication of impunity, effective protection of victims, and systematic, on-going awareness work notably through education.
National authorities need to be vigilant and combat racism and extremism at all levels of society.
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URL to article: http://humanrightscomment.org/2013/05/13/racist-extremism/
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 report: http://www.coe.int/t/commissioner/News/2013/130416GreeceReport_en.asp
 Hungary: http://www.irr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/ERP_BP6_State_intelligence.pdf
 Italy: http://www.errc.org/article/far-right-groups-target-roma-with-violent-protests-in-italy/4132
 Serbia: http://www.errc.org/article/roma-killed-attacked-in-serbia-%E2%80%93-errc-urges-full-investigation/4120
 man shot seven persons: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=5481762
 1966 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx
 Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:328:0055:0058:EN:PDF
 Recommendation No. R (97) 20: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/hrpolicy/other_committees/dh-lgbt_docs/CM_Rec(97)20_en.pdf
 Resolution 1754 (2010), Fight against extremism: achievements, deficiencies and failures: http://www.assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta10/ERES1754.htm
 General Policy Recommendation No. 10: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/activities/GPR/EN/Recommendation_N10/Recommendation_10_en.asp
 Charter of European Political Parties for a Non-Racist Society: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/ecri/activities/38-seminar_ankara_2011/Charter.asp
 Guidelines: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1769177
 FRA findings: http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-factsheet_access_to_justice_en_0.pdf
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