UN Committee: Caste discrimination in the UK should be outlawed
12th September 2011
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.