The opinions are based on evidence generated by the survey and the current EU legal framework, including:
- the Racial Equality Directive (2000/43/EC),
- the Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia (2008/913/JHA), and
- the Victims’ Rights Directive (2012/29/EU).
Racist harassment and violence are common occurrences
Significant proportions of people of African descent experience racist harassment and racist violence in the 12 countries surveyed, including at the hands of the police. Very few report such incidents to any authority or body.
One third of respondents (30 %) say they experienced racist harassment in the five years before the survey; one fifth (21 %) say they did so during the 12 months preceding the survey. Yet only 14 % of victims of racist harassment reported the most recent such incident to any authority. Experiences of racist harassment most commonly involve offensive non-verbal cues (22 %) or offensive or threatening comments (21 %), followed by threats of violence (8 %).
Concerning racist violence, 5 % of respondents say they experienced a racist attack in the five years before the survey; 3 % say they did so during the 12 months before the survey. However, two thirds (64 %) of victims of racist violence, as well as a majority (63 %) of victims of racist physical attacks by police officers, did not report the most recent incident to any organisation – either because they felt reporting it would not change anything (34 %) or because victims do not trust or are afraid of the police (28 %).
Whereas most victims (61 %) do not know the perpetrators, they generally identify them as not having a minority background (65 %). Some 38 % of victims identified perpetrators as having a minority ethnic background other than their own. One in 10 (11 %) of those who experienced racist violence say that a law enforcement officer was the perpetrator.
The Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia requires bias motivation to be considered an aggravating circumstance or taken into consideration by the courts in the determination of the penalties imposed on offenders (Article 4). The Victims’ Rights Directive requires that victims of hate crime receive an individual assessment to identify their specific protection needs (Article 22). The full implementation of EU law entails encouraging victims to report racist offences to the police, as well as ensuring that the police properly record the racist motivation at the time of reporting. Doing so will not only support the investigation and prosecution of racist crime, but will also provide the basis for more effective victim support.
In this respect, it is encouraging that Member States agreed on three sets of key guiding principles that relate to hate crime and victim support in 2017, in the framework of the EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. These sets of principles relate to hate crime training for law enforcement and criminal justice authorities; to improving the recording of hate crime by law enforcement authorities; and to ensuring justice, protection and support for victims of hate crime and hate speech. In 2018, FRA and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) began working with EU Member States to put into practice the guiding principles on improving recording of hate crime.
EU Member States should ensure that victims of racist crime can seek redress and are offered adequate support. They could achieve this by applying the guiding principles relating to hate crime and victim support agreed by the EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. When doing so, Member States should take into account the reluctance of victims to report racist crime to any authority or body, particularly where police officers are the alleged perpetrators. Member States should take necessary measures to ensure that investigations into or prosecution of racist offences are not dependent on a report or an accusation made by a victim, in line with Article 8 of the Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia. EU Member States could consider asking FRA and ODIHR for assistance in applying the guiding principles agreed by the EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. Moreover, Member States should ensure that individual assessments of the specific protection needs of victims of racist crime are conducted, in line with Article 22 of the Victims’ Rights Directive.
Police stops are often experienced as racial profiling
Large numbers of people of African descent who are stopped by the police say they experience racial profiling, an unlawful practice that undermines their trust in law enforcement authorities.
One quarter (24 %) of all persons of African descent surveyed were stopped by the police in the five years before the survey. Among these, four in 10 characterised the most recent stop as racial profiling (41 %). Another one in 10 respondents (11 %) were stopped by the police in the 12 months before the survey, with four in 10 among them characterising the last stop as racial profiling (44 %). Men are three times more likely to be stopped (22 %) than women (7 %), and they are more likely to consider the most recent stop as racial profiling (44 %) compared to women (34 %).
Overall, respondents rate their trust in the police at 6.3 on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means ‘no trust at all’ and 10 indicates ‘complete trust’. The lowest average level of trust in the police is found among respondents who consider the most recent police stop they experienced as racial profiling (4.8).
Profiling involves categorising individuals according to personal characteristics, which can include racial or ethnic origin, skin colour, religion or nationality. For more on profiling, see FRA’s guide on Preventing unlawful profiling today and in the future (to be published in December 2018). The practice is commonly and legitimately used by the police to prevent, investigate and prosecute criminal offences. However, racial profiling is discriminatory and unlawful. Such profiling is defined as the “use by police, with no objective and reasonable justification, of grounds such as race, colour, language, religion, nationality or national or ethnic origin in control, surveillance or investigation activities”, as outlined in General Policy Recommendation N°11 of the Council of Europe Commission against Racism and Intolerance.
EU Member States should develop specific, practical and ready-to-use guidance to ensure that police officers do not conduct racial profiling in the exercise of their duties. As noted in FRA’s upcoming guide on preventing unlawful profiling (December 2018), such guidance can be attached to relevant legislation, issued by law enforcement authorities, or included in standard operating procedures of the police, or in codes of conduct for police officers, as a means to increase its effectiveness and reach. Guidance should be systematically communicated to front line law enforcement officers by their leadership.
In addition, Member States should assist relevant authorities in developing guidance for community policing, as a means to offset the existing negative impact of racial profiling on trust in the police among members of ethnic minority groups. Community policing entails the police working with local residents, businesses and other groups in the community to reduce crime and the fear of crime, to address anti-social behaviour, and to boost community cohesion. Member States could consider asking the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) and FRA to assist them in developing guidance in these areas.
Racial discrimination is a reality in all areas of life
People of African descent regularly feel discriminated against in many areas of life, whether on the basis of skin colour, ethnic origin or religion. Very few report discrimination they experience to any organisation, despite knowing of equality bodies and antidiscrimination law.
Overall, four in 10 respondents (39 %) felt racially discriminated against in the five years before the survey; one in four (24 %) did so in the 12 months preceding the survey. One quarter of respondents (27 %) identify their skin colour as the main reason for experiencing discrimination when looking for work, at work, in education or in housing in the five years preceding the survey. One fifth (19 %) identify their ethnic origin as the main ground of discrimination in these areas of life, and another 5 % their religion or beliefs. Those who wear traditional religious clothing in public experience higher levels of discrimination on the ground of religion compared to respondents who do not wear such clothing in public (12 % vs. 3 %). Men are particularly affected (men: 17 %; women: 9 %).
One in six respondents (16 %) who felt racially discriminated against reported or made a complaint about the most recent incident to any organisation or body. The most common reasons for not reporting are the belief that nothing would change as a result (ranging from 45 % when trying to use public transport to 16 % when in contact with school authorities as a parent); because the incident is not worth reporting (ranging from 40 % in education and in a restaurant or bar to 24 % when looking for work and in access to housing); or because they had no proof of having been discriminated against (ranging from 28 % in access to housing to 6 % when in contact with school authorities as a parent). Still, half of all respondents know of at least one equality body in the country where they live (46 %), and three-quarters are aware of national antidiscrimination legislation (79 %).
In light of this evidence, it can be noted that the Racial Equality Directive stipulates that “the principle of equal treatment shall not prevent any Member State from maintaining or adopting specific measures to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to racial or ethnic origin” (Article 5). The directive also establishes bodies for the promotion of equal treatment tasked with providing assistance to victims of discrimination, conducting research on discrimination, and making recommendations on how to address discrimination.
In this regard, it is encouraging that the European Commission issued a recommendation on standards for equality bodies in June 2018. These standards relate to the mandates of equality bodies, their independence and effectiveness, as well as to their coordination and cooperation with other bodies and authorities. It is also encouraging that the EU High Level Group on Non-Discrimination, Equality and Diversity has, in October 2018, endorsed Guidelines on improving the collection and use of equality data, through a process facilitated by FRA.
EU Member States should ensure that equality bodies can fulfil their tasks, as assigned by the Racial Equality Directive. This entails ensuring that equality bodies are allocated sufficient human, financial and technical resources. When doing so, Member States should give due consideration to the European Commission’s recommendation of June 2018 on standards for equality bodies, particularly as regards their independence and effectiveness.
In line with the principle of equal treatment, EU Member States should consider introducing measures to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to racial or ethnic origin, as enabled by Article 5 of the Racial Equality Directive. Such disadvantages could be identified through the systematic analysis of experiences of racial and ethnic discrimination in the areas of life covered by Article 3 of the directive. The analyses should draw on the full range of available data sources, including: population censuses; administrative registers; household and individual surveys; victimisation surveys; attitudinal surveys; complaints data from equality bodies; situation testing; diversity monitoring by employers and service providers; as well as qualitative research strategies, such as case studies, in-depth interviews and expert interviews.
EU Member States should ensure systematic data collection of reliable, valid and comparable equality data, disaggregated by racial and ethnic origin among other protected characteristics, based on self-identification, and in compliance with the principles and safeguards set out under the General Data Protection Regulation. In doing so, Member States should consult with representatives of population groups at risk of racial discrimination.
Labour market participation – not a level playing field
The survey findings on labour market participation are particularly striking, showing that people of African descent are often engaged in low quality employment that does not correspond to their level of education. The paid work rate among those with a tertiary degree is generally lower than that of the general population.
One quarter of respondents of African descent work in elementary occupations (26 %), which usually consist of manual work involving physical effort. Twice as many respondents with tertiary education (9 %) are employed in elementary occupations than members of the general population with that educational level (5 %).
These findings suggest unequal opportunities in labour market participation among persons of African descent, which could point to discrimination. Against this backdrop, it can be noted that the European Pillar of Social Rights is founded on the principles of equal opportunities and access to the labour market, regardless of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief. The third principle under the pillar relates to fostering equal opportunities for under-represented groups.
EU Member States should consider developing specific measures to counter discrimination in access to employment and at work, particularly as regards lower quality of employment among people of African descent. In line with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, such measures could include actions to promote diversity audits in public and private enterprises and the collection of data disaggregated by racial and ethnic origin; actions to strengthen the facilitation of the recognition of educational and training qualifications from non-EU countries; or actions encouraging the recruitment of under-represented groups in the public sector. Social partners should be actively involved in the design and implementation of any such measures.
Skin colour affects access to adequate housing
The survey findings on housing are also particularly remarkable, showing that persons of African descent experience racial discrimination in access to private and public housing to a great extent. Many also face precarious living conditions, which can exacerbate social exclusion.
Many respondents say they were prevented from renting accommodation by a private landlord because of their racial or ethnic origin (14 %). Some experienced this in municipal or social housing (6 %). Respondents face a particular risk of housing exclusion: only 15 % own their dwelling, compared to 70 % of the general population.
Nearly half of the respondents live in overcrowded housing (45 %), compared to 17 % of the general population in the EU. Moreover, one tenth of respondents (12 %) live in conditions of severe housing deprivation. This entails living in overcrowded dwellings with at least one of the following characteristics: a leaking roof; rot in the walls or windows; no bath/shower and no indoor toilet; or the dwelling being too dark.
The majority of respondents (55 %) have a household income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold after social transfers in the country where they live. One in 10 (13 %) have great difficulties in making ends meet.
These findings need to be read against the commitment of the EU and its Member States to combat exclusion, including in housing. It can be noted that the European Pillar of Social Rights foresees access to social housing or housing assistance of good quality for those in need. The pillar’s implementation and Member States’ progress in this regard will be monitored through the Open Method of Coordination in the Social Protection Committee and supported by Union Funds, including the European Fund for Strategic Investments for social housing investments, the European Regional Development Fund for housing infrastructure, and the European Social Fund for social services.
The EU and its Member States should work closely to develop measures to eradicate housing exclusion, in particular where it correlates with experiences of racial discrimination. Drawing upon the full range of applicable Union funds, Member States should develop measures to improve the quality of municipal or social housing, including as regards overcrowding. Developing such measures should be done in close cooperation with local housing authorities.