Council of Europe issues third report on racism, intolerance in Estonia and Lithuania

  • 2006-02-22
  • By The Baltic Times
TALLINN 's The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, part of the Council of Europe, has released reports criticizing Estonia and Lithuania for a lack of efforts in integrating minorities. At the same time it noted that progress has been made since the previous report four years ago.

In Estonia, the ECRI said unemployment remains disproportionately large in the Russian community, free of charge language courses for the citizenship exam do not meet demand and there is a dearth of quality Estonian language teachers.

The report also said that Estonia has failed to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law or a law on the rights and status of ethnic minorities. The existing integration program has focused primarily on the language requirements of citizenship and neglected other vital issues like employment and education.

The commission also said Estonia has not developed a consistent policy aimed at bringing together the ethnic Estonian and Russian communities.

As regards Lithuania, the ECRI said the members of Lithuania's Roma population continue to face discrimination and prejudice and regulations on the books to prevent racist expressions, including incitement to racial hatred have not been applied.

Lithuania has been beset by a number of high-profile anti-Semitic publications and statements.

Lithuania has, however, strengthened a legal framework against racial discrimination by adopting the Law on Equal Opportunities, the report said.

The commission also pointed out that in Estonia the powers of the legal chancellor's office were extended to allow it to examine cases of discrimination and that the number of stateless people has been decreasing.