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May 30 2012

Caste included in the adopted report on the UK UPR review

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The report on the UN human rights review of the UK was adopted today. A significant recommendation on caste discrimination has been included in the final report. This will provide the basis for monitoring and reporting on the UK’s efforts to amend its legislation to include caste and promote a national strategy to eliminate caste discrimination in the next four years. (News from IDSN) The UPR report from the review of the UK on 24 May has now been adopted, and includes one strong recommendation on caste-discrimination made by Nicaragua, who expressed concern at reports of caste based discrimination in the UK. The recommendation reads that the UK should, “Put in practice a national strategy to eliminate discrimination against caste, through the immediate adoption of the Equality Law of 2010 that prohibits such discrimination, in conformity with its international human rights obligations, including CERD’s General Recommendation 29 and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism (Nicaragua)”

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May 25 2012

UK caste battle taken to the UN

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(Press Release, Geneva, 25 May 2012) As the UK’s first ever caste discrimination case is pending in court, the UK is given a strong recommendation to immediately adopt legislation outlawing caste discrimination, at the UN human rights review of the UK. Caste discrimination occurring in the South Asian diaspora in the UK, affecting the rights of more than 250,000 lower caste citizens also known as Dalits, has been a well kept secret on the international arena. But at the UN Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in the UK on 24 May, several states voiced concerns about the UK Equality Act and anti-discrimination legislation. The UK was specifically recommended to ”… develop a national strategy to eliminate caste discrimination, including the immediate adoption of the clause in the Equality Act of 2010 that prohibits caste discrimination, in accordance with its international human rights obligations.” Vijay Begraj, who has launched a case at the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal, discrimination, victimisation and harassment, due to his caste, was present at the UN review. Mr. Begraj and his wife were seriously harassed and Vijay was dismissed by the firm, because they had married across caste divides. Following the review, a statement was read out on behalf of Mr. Begraj commenting, ”I am extremely distressed and traumatised by the painful, humiliating and violent events that I have been subjected to because of my inter caste relationship and marriage. I welcome the involvement of the member states of the United Nations to take steps exploring this issue and provide long awaited relief to victims like my wife and I and provide clarity in the legislation.” Mr. Begraj’s case is the first of its kind but is unfortunately not a unique occurrence. In 2010 a UK Government commissioned report found that caste discrimination in the UK was found to have extensive personal consequences including reduced career prospects, lower earnings, detrimental effects on education, social isolation, reduced access to social provisions, depression, anger, and loss of self-esteem. Human rights activists and organisations in the UK, as well as the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dalits, have been fighting a battle to outlaw caste discrimination for years. They are calling for action to be taken by the Government without further delay. At the UN review, the UK delegation pledged to respond to all issues raised in writing. ”Caste discrimination must be outlawed in the UK,” said Meena Varma of the Dalit Solidarity Network – UK (DSN-UK), also present at the review,  ”we are looking forward to immediate action being taken by the Government in response to the UN concerns and concerns of hundreds of thousands of UK citizens affected by this type of discrimination, from which there is currently no proper method of redress.” Jeremy Corbyn, UK MP and chair of DSN-UK, spoke at the UN side-event held to follow up to the UK review, “As a result of campaigning we achieved a breakthrough in 2010 when Parliament amended the Equality Act to outlaw caste discrimination, pending Government commissioned research. We now have the report with the evidence and the UK Government must act immediately to adopt the caste discrimination clause, and deliver proper access to justice for victims.” Contact: Meena Varma, Director, Dalit Solidarity Network – UK, Telephone +44 (0) 7966081558 • Email meenav@dsnuk.org  • web: www.dsnuk.org More information: Recommendation made by the State of Nicaragua at the UN review >> Article on the results of the Government commissioned report on caste discrimination in the UK >> Article on the case of Vijay Begraj >> UPR UK 2012: Briefing note with key recommendations and question – Caste discrimination in the UK >> DSN-UK and IDSN joint UPR submission on caste-based discrimination in the UK >>

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May 18 2012

UPR-Reviews of the UK and India: Time to act on caste discrimination

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When India and the UK come up for review by the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 24 May, IDSN and DSN-UK urges all UN member states to seize this important opportunity to address concerns about caste discrimination based on recommendations by civil society and UN human rights bodies. Ahead of the reviews, IDSN has launched an Appeal to UN Member States, Special Procedures, and UN Agencies to Take Action to Eliminate Caste Discrimination Now and has issued a joint press release with Human Rights Watch, specifically on the UPR of India. “United Nations member states should call for effective implementation of laws and policies to address caste-related human rights violations in India,” says Julie de Rivero, Geneva advocacy director at Human Rights Watch in the press release. “Numerous UN human rights bodies and civil society groups are demanding that the Indian government move from promises to action to improve the lives of people who have long endured horrific discrimination … It would be a great injustice to over 160 million Dalits in India if the UN review of India’s human rights record does not directly and comprehensively address serious concerns for the on-going human rights violations against them.” IDSN has issued a number of recommendations to be raised at the reviews of both India and the United Kingdom. Although less known, caste discrimination within the South Asian diaspora in the UK is a problem affecting at least 250.000 Dalits. These aspects are also reflected in the stakeholders’ reports compiled by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In the review of the United Kingdom, IDSN recommends that the UK Government immediately adopts the amendment to prohibit caste discrimination in the Equality Act 2010 and puts into action a national strategy to eliminate caste discrimination. In the review of India, Human Rights Watch and IDSN urge member states to recommend the Government to take effective measures to protect the rights of Dalits, address widespread impunity for crimes committed against them, and lack of access to justice and basic services. IDSN has been part of preparing briefing notes and UPR submissions concerning the situation of Dalits in the two countries together with its members. The briefing notes include key recommendations and questions for States to raise in the interactive dialogues on 24 May. The two reviews present a major opportunity to examine and hold the governments accountable to their human rights obligations on the aspect of caste discrimination. IDSN therefore appeals to all States to raise concerns about caste-based violations and recommend the sharing of good practices to eliminate caste discrimination in the two country reviews. In conclusion of the UPRs, IDSN organizes an Information Meeting recapping the outcomes of the reviews and reflecting on the follow-up action at the national and international level. Delegations, the press, and NGOs are welcome to this side event, which will be held in Geneva on 25 May at 2-3 pm – at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Share this news on Facebook >> Briefing notes and UPR Submissions: Caste discrimination in the UK – UPR review 24 May: UPR UK 2012: Briefing note with key recommendations and question – Caste discrimination in the UK DSN-UK and IDSN joint UPR submission on caste-based discrimination in the UK Caste discrimination in India – UPR review 24 May: UPR India 2012: Briefing note with key recommendations and question – Caste discrimination in India UPR submission – Coalition report by National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights You can find more information about the UPR mechanism, incl. links here >>   

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Sep 12 2011

UN Committee: Caste discrimination in the UK should be outlawed

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The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) recommends that the UK Government prohibit caste discrimination and provide remedies to victims of this form of discrimination. Following the review of the UK Government by the CERD Committee at its 79th session in August, the Committee has published its Concluding Observations (C/CERD/GBR/CO/18-20) where it recommends the UK Government to amend national legislation to prohibit caste discrimination. During the review, which was held on 23-24 August, where Committee members asked the delegation about the existence of caste discrimination in the country. The delegation replied that there was “no consensus” on the need for introducing such legislation, and that the Government had not yet “taken a decision” on evidence that such discrimination exists in the country. On this basis, the CERD Committee recommends in paragraph 30 of the Concluding Observations that the State party should acknowledge the existing evidence, some of which has been commissioned by the Government itself, and responds to it by amending the law: “30. While noting the assertion of the State party that there is no evidence in the State party of the existence of caste-based discrimination to any significant extent in the fields covered by the Convention, the Committee has received information from nongovernmental organizations and from recent research studies commissioned by State party institutions that such discrimination and harassment in violation of the rights to work, to education and to the supply of goods and services does exist in the State party (article 2). Recalling its previous concluding observations (CERD/C/63/CO/11 para. 25) and its General Recommendation 29 (2002) on descent, the Committee recommends that the Minister responsible in the State party invoke section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010 to provide for “caste to be an aspect of race” in order to provide remedies to victims of this form of discrimination. The Committee further requests the State party to inform the Committee of developments on this matter in its next periodic report.” The UK Government is asked to submit its next report to the CERD Committee in 2014. In May 2012, the general human rights record of the UK Government will be examined by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group of the Human Rights Council. More information: Read the Concluding Observations IDSN news piece from UK CERD review 23-24 August UN references to caste discrimination in the UK IDSN and DSN-UK shadow report on caste discrimination in the UK, July 2011 UK country profile

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Aug 25 2011

UN review: UK Government fails to acknowledge the need for outlawing caste discrimination

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During a review by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) on 23 and 24 August, the UK delegation said that there was “no consensus” on the need for prohibiting caste discrimination in the UK. Furthermore, the Government had “not made a decision” on the findings of a government-commissioned report, which concludes that caste discrimination exists in the UK. “Why are you so afraid”, a CERD Committee member asked during the dialogue. The UK Government’s failure to acknowledge the need for outlawing caste discrimination was a big disappointment to the Dalit community groups, which have fought for years to introduce caste in UK anti-discrimination law. “The Government’s hesitation to amend the law ignores the sufferings and abuse of people in the UK who experience caste discrimination and goes against the will of the UK Parliament, which has declared caste discrimination unacceptable,“ says DSN-UK Coordinator Meena Varma. “We are still awaiting a reasonable and proportionate response from the Government to the evidence that caste-based discrimination does in fact exist in the UK.” In an alternative report submitted to CERD in July, DSN-UK and IDSN called on the Government to take immediate action to adopt the proposed amendment to outlaw caste discrimination in the Equality Bill 2010, and requested the Government to take specific measures to eliminate this form of discrimination in accordance withCERD General Recommendation 29. When the UK was last examined in 2003, the CERD Committee recommended in their Concluding Observations that a prohibition against caste discrimination be included in domestic legislation. In response, the UK Government said that there was no evidence that such discrimination existed in the UK. After significant pressure by anti-caste groups, the Government agreed in 2010 to amend the Equality Act to include caste as an aspect of race in the Equality Act, if such evidence was found. In 2010 the Government therefore commissioned an independent researchinstitute (NIESR) to assess the nature, extent and severity of caste discrimination in the UK. The report, which was published in December 2010, clearly confirmed the existence of caste-based discrimination in the UK and concluded that “non-legislative approaches are less likely to be effective in the private sector and do not assist those where the authorities themselves are discriminating.” When the CERD review began on 23 August, the Government had yet to decide on the findings of the report, and therefore also to make a final decision on whether to adopt the amendment in the law. Representatives from IDSN and the Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA) lobbied the Committee to raise questions on the issue, which was addressed by four members during the dialogue. One member, Mr. Peter, asked why the Minister was so afraid to amend the law and deal with this issue, now that well-documented research had found that caste discrimination exists, incl. bullying in schools. In response to the questions, the Government said that the commissioned report had been “examined carefully”, both by those that were for and against introducing such provision, and that the Government had “not made a decision on it“. The Government has now had eight months to come to a conclusion on the basis of the findings. In follow up to the review, the CERD Committee will include their key recommendations in a set of Concluding Observations, which will be available within a months time. At the same time as the UK review took place, a UK couple sued their British employers for alleged caste discrimination in a historic court case. The case illustrates why it is necessary for the Government to act, without further hesitation, to include caste in the current anti-discrimination law. More information: > Alternative report on caste-based discrimination in the UK by DSN-UK and IDSN > CERD website, incl. links to state report and other NGO reports on the issue (ACDA and The Odysseus Trust) > More information about caste discrimination in the UK

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Aug 18 2011

Gordon Brown shocked at living conditions of Dalits

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Gordon Brown shocked at living conditions of Dalits

“I have seen many slums from my time visiting Africa and Asia, but the numbers of people packed into a very small area without proper sanitation [here] is very shocking,” Brown said.

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Aug 18 2011

Evidence of Caste Discrimination in the UK revealed


A Government-commissioned study on caste discrimination in the UK finds evidence of caste discrimination in work, provision of services, education, and harassment and violence as a result of caste discrimination. The study was commissioned and published by the UK Government Equalities Office and conducted by Hilary Metcalf and Heather Rolfe at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. Caste discrimination was found to have extensive personal consequences including reduced career prospects, lower earnings, detrimental effects on education, social isolation, reduced access to social provisions, depression, anger, and loss of self-esteem. The discrimination identified in the study was amongst people with roots in the Indian sub-continent (who comprise five per cent of the population) and perpetrated by higher castes against the lower castes.

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Aug 18 2011

DSN UK welcome

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Hello everybody and welcome to our new website

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