The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released the concluding observations on the combined twentieth to twenty-third periodic report of Belarus, following the CERD 94th session in November 2017. The Committee made recommendations related to information provided by ADC Memorial’s alternative report on the discrimination of Roma people in the Republic of Belarus.
The Committee shared concerns about the presidential Decree #3 “On preventing social Parasitism” requiring individuals who work fewer than 183 days per year to pay approximately $250 per year as compensation for lost tax. Although this decree has been suspended in 2017 and a new version is being prepared, the Committee stated that such decree disproportionately affects the Roma population. CERD UN asked Belarus to inform it within one year about the implementation of the most important recommendations, one of them concerns the need to avoid using the Decree “On preventing social Parasitism” against vulnerable groups (e.g. Roma).
The Committee also pointed out that in spite of legal anti-discrimination protections, Roma face widespread discrimination in both public and private sector employment; and that despite the commendable high literacy rate in the State party, a large percentage of Roma children do not attend school. While noting that the State party does not collect data on the ethnic composition of its prison population, the Committee is also concerned by reports that Romaare disproportionately represented among prisoners.
Important recommendations were made on improvement of the situation of Roma people. The Committee called on the Belarus government to take measures to end racial profiling by law enforcement authorities, and undertake prompt investigations into all allegations of racial profiling, holding those responsible accountable and providing effective remedies, including compensation.
ADC Memorial concerns about the Presidential Decree on parasitism was reflected in the Committee’s recommendation to refrain from imposing taxes disproportionately affecting disadvantaged ethnic minorities, including a tax on individuals on the basis of unemployment or under -employment, such as established in Presidential Decree No. 3 (2015) and take all necessary measures to monitor, prevent, investigate and sanction acts of discrimination against Roma in the area of employment;
The Committee recommended the Belarus government to ensure that all children, including Roma, enjoy their right to inclusive and quality education; collect data on its prison population, disaggregated by ethnicity and offence; and Provide in its next report to the Committee information on the aforementioned measures taken and their results.