The Government of Sweden must do more to end discrimination against people of African descent and increase integration as part of a wider effort in combatting racism and hate speech, a group of United Nations human rights experts urged today following their visit to the European nation.
The appeal, launched by the Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent, comes amid a heightened prevalence of xenophobic and racist attitudes against migrants and refugee communities despite the Government’s best efforts to counter racial hate.
“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 Working Group declared in a press release.
“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,” the experts continued.
“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.”
The Working Group – which travelled to Sweden from 1-5 December, visiting the cities of Stockholm, Malmö, and Lund – commended the Government’s plan to develop a Human Rights Strategy as well as a policy to accord priority to addressing “Afrophobia” and awareness raising programmes on combating xenophobia and racism.
At the same time, however, it voiced concerned about what they described as the “invisibility and lack of recognition of people of African descent as a specific vulnerable group in the country.”
“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 experts pointed out.
The Working Group – headed by Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France – will present a final report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2015.