Communication No. 4/1991
UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The author visited a house for which a lease had been offered to him and his family in Utrecht. He was accompanied by a friend, A.B. When they arrived, around 20 people had gathered outside the house. During the visit, the author heard several of them shout: “No more foreigners”. Others told the petitioner that if he were to accept the house, they would set fire to it and damage his car. The author filed a complaint but argues that no proper investigation was conducted. The Committee agreed, finding a violation of Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Theme(s): Ethnic Hatred
Date: 16 March 1993
Description of applicant(s): Citizen
Brief description of fats: In 1989, the author, who is partially disabled, visited a house for which a lease had been offered to him and his family in Utrecht. He was accompanied by a friend, A.B. When they arrived, some 20 people had gathered outside the house. During the visit, the author heard several of them shout: “No more foreigners”. Others told the petitioner that if he were to accept the house, they would set fire to it and damage his car. The author and A.B. then returned to the Municipal Housing Office and asked the official responsible for the file to accompany them to the street. There, several local inhabitants told the official that they could not accept the author as their neighbour, owing to a presumed rule that no more than 5 per cent of the street’s inhabitants should be foreigners. Told that no such rule existed, street residents drafted a petition, which noted that the author could not be accepted and recommended that another house be allocated to his family.
On the same day, the author filed a complaint with the municipal police of Utrecht, on the ground that he had been the victim of racial discrimination. The complaint was directed against all those who had signed the petition and those who had gathered outside the house. He summited that, initially, the police officer refused to register the complaint and that it took mediation by a local anti-discrimination group before the police agreed to prepare a report.
The author contended that the judicial authorities and the public prosecutor did not properly examine all the relevant facts of the case or at least did not formulate a motivated decision in respect of his complaint. In particular, he submited that the police investigation was neither thorough nor complete
(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Immigrants
The Committee’s assessment of the impugned speech:
The Committee considered that the State Party did not afford the author with effective protection and remedies.
Important paragraph(s) from the decision:
6.5 The Committee reaffirms its view as stated in its Opinion on Communication No. 1/1984 of 10 August 1987 (Yilmaz-Dogan v. The Netherlands) that “the freedom to prosecute criminal offenses – commonly known as the expediency principle – is governed by considerations of public policy and notes that the Convention cannot be interpreted as challenging the raison d’être of that principle. Notwithstanding, it should be applied in each case of alleged racial discrimination in the light of the guarantees laid down in the Convention”.
6.6 When threats of racial violence are made, and especially when they are made in public and by a group, it is incumbent upon the State to investigate with due diligence and expedition. In the instant case, the State party failed to do this.
6.7 The Committee finds that in view of the inadequate response to the incidents, the police and judicial proceedings in this case did not afford the applicant effective protection and remedies within the meaning of article 6 of the Convention.
6.8 The Committee recommends that the State party review its policy and procedures concerning the decision to prosecute in cases of alleged racial discrimination, in the light of its obligations under article 4 of the Convention.
ICERD Article: 4