Training Workshop for Judges in the Implementation and Enforcement of the EU Race Equality Directive

10 May 2003

February 28-March 1, 2003, Budapest, Hungary

the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) organised a training workshop for judges on the implementation and enforcement of the EU Race Equality Directive held from February 28 to March 1, 2003 in Budapest, Hungary. This event was sponsored in part by the European Commission through the Phare Small Projects Programme. The workshop was attended by 32 judges from the following countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. All the staff members of the ERRC legal department helped organise and took part in the workshop. The language of the conference was English.

The aim of this workshop was to educate judges in countries, both members of and applicants to the EU, regarding the implications of the EU Race Equality Directive, particularly in the context of Roma rights issues, and to train them in its application by the judicial system.

Discussions addressed the following topics:

  • The definition of direct and indirect discrimination;
  • The implementation of the provisions set forth in the EU Race Equality Directive through specialised bodies;
  • The enforcement of the EU Race Equality Directive, the burden of proof and sanctions;
  • Testing as a method for proving discrimination;
  • The current state of domestic law in applicant EU countries and a comparison of the domestic legislation with the requirements of the Directive.

The participants were provided with the following documents in English: EU Race Equality Directive; A comparative analysis of national and European law; Legal analysis of national and European anti-discrimination legislation - country specific; European Charter of Fundamental Rights; UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; transcript of the ERRC testing workshop tape; European Convention on Human Rights; Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights; and an article written by Mark Bell "Combating Racism through European Laws".

The lecturers at the workshop were: Vivienne Gay, Chairman of Employment Tribunals from United Kingdom; Dick Houtzager, The Netherlands National Bureau against Racial Discrimination; Geraldine Hynes, lawyer, Irish Equality Authority; Lilla Farkas, attorney, Hungarian Helsinki Committee; Jean Garland, legal director ERRC; Branimir Pleše, ERRC senior staff attorney.

Introductory remarks were given by Jean Garland, ERRC legal director, and Carolina Fernandez, international relations officer at Fundacion Secretariado General Gitano.

Dick Houtzager, from the National Bureau against Racial Discrimination in the Netherlands, presented the issues of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation using examples from the work of his institution.

Vivienne Gay, judge at the Stratford Employment Tribunal, talked about the implementation of the Race Directive through independent specialised bodies in Europe. She also discussed the remedies and the enforcement of the Directive with an emphasis on the burden of proof and sanctions.

Branimir Pleše, ERRC senior staff attorney, offered a presentation on testing as a method for proving discrimination, using examples of decisions in which courts from several countries accepted testing as evidence.

Geraldine Hynes, lawyer for the Irish Equality Authority, discussed employment discrimination and the provisions of the Race Directive in relation to genuine occupational requirements and positive actions of the states.

Lilla Farkas, lawyer working for the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, discussed the current state of domestic law in applicant and EU countries, comparing domestic legislation with the requirements of the Directive and the legislation of other countries.

An important part of the seminar was devoted to facilitated workshops on selected case examples regarding educational segregation, discrimination in allocation of housing and ancillary services, discrimination in access to public accommodation, and employment. The participants discussed the cases and their compliance with the Race Directive and suggested various approaches for bringing complaints before their domestic courts. The facilitators were Jean Garland, Branimir Pleše, Dick Houtzager, Vivienne Gay, Lilla Farkas and ERRC staff attorneys Ioana Banu, Ivan Ivanov and Andi Dobrushi.

Concluding remarks were made by Jean Garland, who thanked the participants for their interest and participation in the workshop.

The workshop was significant because it raised awareness among the judges of the implications of the EU Race Directive for their legal systems and also of the widespread discrimination against Roma in Europe.


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