Sweden: UN experts urge intensifying efforts to end discrimination against people of African descent

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 8, 2014 Afro-Swedes and Africans are subjected to racist acts and hate speech in Sweden despite efforts from the Government to combat such acts, the United Nations Working Group of experts on people of African descent has warned today.

“Afro-Swedes and Africans with whom we met expressed their experiences of multiple forms of discrimination based on their skin colour, race, religion and sex,” the human rights experts said following a five-day official visit* to Sweden.

In that regard, they stressed, “we welcome plans of the Government to develop a Human Rights Strategy and other measures that would address racial discrimination against Afro-Swedes and Africans.”

The Working Group’s commended in particular the Government’s policy to accord priority to addressing Afrophobia and awareness raising programmes on combating xenophobia and racism and various institutional mechanisms at local levels designed to prevent and combat racial discrimination.

However, they expressed its concerns “about the invisibility and lack of recognition of people of African descent as a specific vulnerable group in the country.” During their mission, the experts also heard from civil society, researchers and victims about racial discrimination in access to health, housing, employment and other essential services.

The Working Group was also informed that there is a heightened xenophobic and racist attitude against migrants and refugee communities including many people of African descent.

“Racial discrimination is also manifested in lack of equal access to justice, racial profiling and the failure to effectively investigate, prosecute and deter Afrophobic hate crimes,” they noted. “We are concerned that this creates feelings of mistrust in law enforcement bodies among communities and discourages them from accessing help when they themselves are victims of crime or rights abuses.”

“For a country that has been perceived as having a long tradition of tolerance and openness, the relative silence around racism and racial discrimination is surprising and worrying,” the Working Group pointed out.

During its mission 1-5 December, the human rights experts visited Stockholm, Malmö and Lund.

The Working group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2015.

(*) Check the Working Group’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15388&LangID=E

SOURCE: United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)