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International workshop: Policing Minorities
 
On September 28-29, 2006, the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in cooperation with the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) held an international workshop on policing minorities. The event was aimed to broaden the opportunities for Bulgarian NGOs to work with government and law-enforcement institutions in addressing issues of ethnic and racial discrimination and violence and to increase the capacity of Bulgarian law-enforcement institutions to prevent and analyze issues related to ethnic and racist violence and discrimination.

In their opening remarks the Chairman of the CSD Dr. Ognian Shentov and the EUMC RAXEN Project Manager Mr. Alessandro Budai briefed the participants on the objectives of the workshop, underlining the importance of the issue of policing minorities not only for Bulgaria and other EU Member States but also for the EU as a whole.

The role of the EUMC and EU policies on racial equality was presented by Mr. Tomaz Trplan from the Research and Data Collection Unit of EUMC. Mr. Trplan explained that the objective of EUMC is to provide the Community and its Member States with objective, reliable and comparable data at European level on the phenomena of racism and xenophobia in order to help them take measures or formulate courses of action within their respective spheres of competence. The EUMC fulfills its task by monitoring racism and xenophobia by collecting, recording and analyzing information and data from all EU Member States, disseminating the results of its activities and its findings to policy-makers in the EU and an interested public and cooperation with EU institutions, Member States, national and international organizations, and civil society organizations to support the development of practical policies against racism, xenophobia and discrimination. Mr. Trplan also referred to the expected transformation of the EUMC into the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union.

While presenting the tasks and responsibilities of the Center for the Study of Democracy as a National Focal Point of the EUMC RAXEN Network Mr. Dimitar Markov, Project Coordinator at the CSD Law Program, explained that as an NFP the Center’s role is twofold. On the one hand it is expected to collect information from various domestic governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations on racial equality in certain areas of public life and present it to the EUMC. On the other hand, CSD may turn into a resource center for institutions and NGOs within the country by disseminating information about the EU activities in this field.

The EU legislation on racial equality was briefly presented by Mr. Aidan Fitzpatrick from the Employment Development Division of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. Mr. Fitzpatrick also explained the situation with racial discrimination in Northern Ireland, in particular in the field of employment. According to the speaker the main issues as regards racial inequality in this area concern the recruitment and selection, the terms and conditions for employment, the access to benefits, the dismissal and other detriment, etc. Mr. Fitzpatrick pointed out some of the measures undertaken by the Equality Commission to promote racial equality and help under-represented groups compete on equal terms in the labor market. These included the support for legal cases to courts and tribunals, the development of codes of practice, the regular review of legislation as well as the conduct of various types of research.

During the panel on Policing Minorities Ms. Joanna Goodey, Programme Manager Research of the Research and Data Collection Unit at the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) presented the paradigms of policing racist violence across the EU as identified by the EUMC rapid response survey in EU 25 conducted in 2004. She reviewed the main issues surveyed, such as police training on race and ethnicity issues, recording practices for racist crime, and the definitions, legal provisions and approaches to the latter. She underlined that though an overarching policy on racist crime is not in place in all states, pockets of good practice in dealing with it the at the local level can be found everywhere, and that the UK is notable for its most comprehensive approach nationally.

In his presentation on Community policing – how to address issues of discrimination Mr. Milcho Enev, Chief Inspector at the National Police, spoke on the basic reasons for lack of trust in the Bulgarian police, among them the high level of volume crime, the overexposure of serious and organized crime in media reports, and the prevailing community attitude that public security and crime are exclusively police domains. He emphasized that community policing and police services tailored to a multi-ethnic environment have been recognized as priority areas at the Bulgarian police. Regular police staff needs to adapt to working with a culturally specific and socially vulnerable group such as the Roma avoiding the stereotypes to their community. This is tackled through ongoing trainings of police officers throughout the country on human rights, conflict resolution, and applying a problem-oriented approach. He mentioned future projects in cooperation with the non-governmental sector that will supply the tools necessary to monitor police stops in order to increase police efficiency and prevent ethnic profiling.

Mr. Kensika Monshengwo from the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism, which is also a RAXEN National Focal Point for Ireland, described NCCRI as a Good practice example of working with police. He pointed out that each police force in Ireland has an ethnic liaison officer and noted that the training of police trainers delivered by the Committee focuses not just on racism, but on broader diversity issues. He outlined the policy routes for improving police work on racist crime and interethnic relations, such as: mainstreaming, which aims to bridge the gap between existent legislation and its implementation as well as the dominant public perceptions; targeting, which opens the police force to officers from various origins including immigrants and which helps build community trust; proper benchmarking, which can help the effectiveness of police services; and empowering ethnic minorities to report racist incidents to the police.

Two presentations were made on the topic of Ethnic Profiling in the EU. Ms. Rachel Neild from the National Criminal Justice Reform Program of the Open Society Justice Initiative made an overview of Justice Initiative's extensive work on ethnic profiling, in particular the large-scale European Ethnic Profiling Project and the three broad strategies it is based on: overall awareness-raising to the problem through research and documentation; advocacy for explicit European and national legislation clearly defining and banning ethnic profiling; and collaborative partnerships between civil society, minority communities, and government agencies.

Ms. Rebekah Delsol, Consultant Coordinator of the European Ethnic Profiling Project went on further to explain the comparative profiling survey carried out in Bulgaria, Hungary and Spain focusing on the Roma minority in the first two countries and on immigrant groups in the third, noting the strong cooperation the police provided everywhere. She dwelt on the newly launched STEPPS project engaging partners from UK police and expected to build on previous work, outlining its stages and anticipated outcomes, among them a police stop form, operational guidance, and training package, whose general aim is to prevent unwelcome ethnic profiling practices.

Drawing on his extensive research on Ethnic profiling in the UK, Mr. Joel Miller, assistant professor at the University of Malaga and former Home Office researcher in stop and search practices, shared his expertise drawing attention to issues such as the appropriateness and effectiveness of police stop and search as a tactic, on the spread of ethnic profiling by law enforcement in the UK, on the tools and benchmarks used in surveys of the practice as well as the importance of legal provisions in this area, the EU Race directive being a handy example.

A practitioner’s input was made by Mr. Rich Keenan, Detective Chief Inspector at the Professional Standards Department of the Leicestershire Constabulary, who portrayed an extremely ethnically diverse area of one million population and the lynchpins of community policing. Among these are thorough ethnicity recording during stop and search, regular internal reporting on the basis of stops data, never using the number of stops made as an officer performance indicator, and having a designated officer responsible for race crime at each police force in the UK. Apart from operational details, the key approach is to maintain close consultations with the community as a source of invaluable evidence, as well as engaging in non-police activities, learning the community languages and employing officers that reflect the ethnic make-up of the city.

Mr. Philip Gounev, Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy considered the topic of Ethnic profiling in Bulgaria, based on the recent report published by the Center within the OSJI project surveying profiling towards the Roma as the second largest minority group most often stereotyped in society. Besides its focus on pedestrian police stops, the shortage and inconsistency of stops data and of explicit regulations governing stops, the attitudes of officers during encounters, and the characteristics of the stopped Roma, the research regarded a variety of other elements, including the objective factors and traits of Roma criminal behaviour, and the probable spread of racially motivated crime.

Mr. Kauko Aromaa, Director of the European Institute of Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI) and President of the European Society of Criminology, offered a presentation on What is a victimization survey and how are they used by law-enforcement and civil society in Europe. He dwelt on the importance of victimization surveys as a specific and relatively new data source for crime and crime-related phenomena and on their various uses and specific features. He did not omit some of their weaknesses, but underscored that an enlightened knowledge-based criminal policy will find ways to utilize their strengths to complement the possible gaps left by official crime recording.

At the end of the day Ms. Joanna Goodey proceeded to discuss Racist violence and crime in the EU: from official data to victim surveys. She presented EUMC data on officially recorded racially motivated crime in EU member states and outlined the agency’s victimization survey experience within international and EU context, and their methods, including some newly developed ones at the EUMC.

The role of the ombudsman for promoting racial equality was deliberated by one Bulgarian and one foreign contributor. Mr. Metin Kazak, Deputy Ombudsman of the Republic of Bulgaria, glanced at the process of transposing EU human rights and racial equality legislation and mechanisms to Bulgaria in its accession efforts. He noted that equal treatment and discrimination issues are closely related to real problems in Bulgarian society and that the national ombudsman, albeit newly established and still building capacity, never turns down discrimination cases, seeking where necessary the support of the National Commission on Protection against Discrimination. In addition, the ombudsman office made a recent inquiry under its own initiative into a case of fatal police violence, managing to prove abuse of power and excessive use of force which led to a second official investigation.

Ms. Anna Papadopoulou, Senior Investigator at the Department of Human Rights of the Greek Ombudsman, presented the national ombudsman office as the body responsible for the implementation of the equal treatment principle, with the human rights department having a central role in resolving such cases. She pointed to the major groups filing equal treatment complaints in Greece and spoke in detail about the problems encountered by the local Roma minority. Their grave exclusion based on century-long disadvantages has worsened in the last decade due to the influx of economic immigrants displacing them from traditional livelihoods.

Ms. Papadopoulou described the efforts which the ombudsman institution invests not just to tackle individual cases, but to advance measures of the central and local government that would sustainably improve the multilevel Roma vulnerability, starting from access to education, to employment, housing and the resultant self-confidence, trust in the rest of society and proper representation of the group.

The activities of the Bulgarian equality body – the Commission for Protection against Discrimination – were presented by its Chairperson Mr. Kemal Eyup. In his presentation Mr. Eyup mentioned a recent survey done by the commission, according to which a major problem in terms of racial discrimination is the recruitment of personnel in the public administration. The results of the survey showed that not always the appointment of representatives of minorities as civil servants is well accepted in the society. Speaking about the commission’s activities Mr. Eyup explained that the public perceptions of discrimination often do not correspond to the actual situation as for the first year of its operation the commission has found about 30% of the received complaints as unjustified. The commission also focuses its efforts on awareness raising activities since, according to Mr. Eyup, as a new body for this country its functions are still not well known to ordinary citizens and it is more often approached by NGOs rather than individuals.

The role of the civil society and NGOs in Bulgaria for prevention and countering of racial discrimination was presented by the Mr. Valery Roussanov, Chair of the Board of Directors of ACCESS – Sofia Foundation. Mr. Roussanov made a reference to the history of Bulgarian transition explaining its specific ethnic and racial aspects. According to him, from the very beginning of the transition process the prevention and countering of ethnic and racial discrimination became a priority issue for the civil society and a number of NGOs focused their activities in this area. Thus, civil society organizations turned into an important factor in the process of policy making in the area of racial and ethnic equality and many of them still possess considerable capacity to influence the public agenda.

Program and presentations
 
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