Experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Commend Luxembourg for Introducing Universal Health Care, Ask About Lack of Data and Online Hate Speech
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined eighteenth to twentieth periodic report of Luxembourg, with Committee Experts commending the introduction of universal health care and raising questions about the lack of data and measures to prevent online hate speech.
A Committee Expert congratulated Luxembourg for adopting legislation on universal health care. What statistics had prompted the State to adopt universal health care? How did the law improve access to health care? Did the State use artificial intelligence to profile foreign nationals and improve their access to health?
Ibrahima Guisse, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Luxembourg, noted that there was a lack of data, and as a result racism was not visible. What measures had been implemented to strengthen data collection? Did the law on data protection include ethnic indicators? Mr. Guisse also noted that there had been an increase in racial hatred in the media and online, particularly in attacks on refugees and asylum seekers. He asked what measures were in place to prevent racial discrimination online, and what penalties were applied to offenders?
Bakari Sidiki Diaby, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Luxembourg, added that video streaming platforms did not appear to be covered in the law prohibiting hate speech in the media. Could the State party introduce a law that prohibited hate speech in all forms of media?
Introducing the report, Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, addressed the data gap, saying that it had previously been difficult to assess the magnitude of the phenomenon of racism since no data on this subject had been available. To fill this information gap, a national survey was commissioned in 2020 to study the phenomenon of racism in Luxembourg, and a coherent strategy to combat racial discrimination at the national level was developed.
Anne Goedert, Goodwill Ambassador for Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg and head of the delegation, said that a study by the Government on the phenomenon of racism in Luxembourg had highlighted that there were struggles to apply the law in practice, and that there were few convictions for discrimination, due to a low number of complaints of discrimination. There were barriers to submitting complaints, such as cost, a lack of evidence and fear of reprisals. The study also showed that structural racism in Luxembourg was widespread in a number of key areas of society, such as access to housing, job search, education and on social networks.
The delegation said that Luxembourg was aware of the problem of the lack of data, however, the State had learned lessons from the 2020 national study on racism. Racism remained a problem in Luxembourg. The Nazi occupation, the delegation explained, was one reason why the State had historically avoided collecting data on ethnicity.
On the issue of hate speech in the media, the delegation said that broadcasting services were regulated by a law to ensure respect and protection of dignity. No broadcast could contain content that discriminated against a certain group, and journalists were required to make efforts to fight discriminatory comments related to media content, and to respect the fundamental rights of human beings in the content that they produced.
Rhéa Ziadé of the Consultative Commission for Human Rights of Luxembourg welcomed the implementation of universal health care coverage, but expressed regret about the three-month residence requirement. She said that this raised questions about the practical implementation of this new system and its adequacy. She also noted that the State had an obligation to act against broadcasts and online media inciting racial hatred or violence. An amendment to the Law on Electronic Media was necessary to effectively combat discrimination in the media.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Guisse congratulated the Luxembourg delegation for its detailed responses and report. The institutional, political and multicultural dynamics of States were important factors to analyse for the Committee, and the large delegation had helped the Committee to do just that.
Ms. Goedert, in concluding remarks, thanked the Committee for the lively discussion. She said that the challenges that Luxembourg faced included COVID-19, hate speech, human trafficking, and migrants’ and asylum seekers’ access to the labour market and housing. The State’s goal was to create a just and inclusive society, and it would continue to work on resolving its issues and implementing the recommendations of the Committee.
Verene Albertha Shepherd, Committee Chair, thanked the delegation for its detailed replies and report, thanked the Country Rapporteurs for leading the dialogue, and thanked all Committee members for their questions.
The delegation of Luxembourg consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs; the National Reception Office; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Family Affairs and Integration; the Ministry of National Education, Childhood and Youth; and the Permanent Mission of Luxembourg to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Luxembourg after the end of its one hundred and sixth session on 29 April. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage.
The Committee will next meet in public on Wednesday, 20 April at 3 p.m. to start its consideration of the combined twelfth and thirteenth periodic report of Estonia (CERD/C/EST/12-13).
The Committee has before it the combined eighteenth to twentieth periodic report of Luxembourg (CERD/C/LUX/18-20).
Presentation of Report
JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, said Luxembourg’s report was the result of a national consultation conducted within the framework of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights, as well as consultations with civil society.
Luxembourg, before becoming a country of immigration, was for a long time a country of emigration. Initially a rural country, Luxembourg had become highly industrialised and had subsequently experienced a boom in the service sector. Out of a total population of nearly 635,000 inhabitants, more than 47 per cent were foreign nationals, representing more than 170 different nationalities. Of the 450,000 jobs in Luxembourg, more than 200,000 were occupied by cross-border workers. About 70 per cent of the country's workforce was made up of immigrant or cross-border workers.
Luxembourg was aware of the considerable contribution of migratory flows to its economic development. These flows were a challenge, but also an essential source of cultural and economic enrichment. Since the 1980s, Luxembourg had experienced significant population growth, mainly due to immigration. Despite its multicultural identity, racism was present within the society. It had previously been difficult to assess the magnitude of the phenomenon since no data on this subject had been available. In July 2020, to fill this information gap, a national survey was commissioned to study the phenomenon of racism in Luxembourg, and a coherent strategy to combat racial discrimination at the national level was developed. The results of this study were published last month.
ANNE GOEDERT, Goodwill Ambassador for Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg and head of the delegation, said that in recent years, Luxembourg had continued to strengthen its legal framework and general policies aimed at eliminating racial discrimination. The State’s efforts included introducing a law regarding the reception of applicants for international protection and temporary protection, which was designed to prevent discrimination. It had also introduced a law that facilitated access to Luxembourg nationality to combat discrimination against non-citizens.
In 2018, the Government of Luxembourg had adopted a new National Action Plan for Integration and the Fight against Discrimination. The Action Plan provided a general, strategic and sustainable framework for the reception of applicants for international protection and the integration of non-Luxembourg nationals. It included measures for fighting discrimination and promoting diversity and equal opportunity.
As part of this Action Plan, a vast awareness campaign was set up under the title "I can vote" during the 2017 municipal elections. This campaign had led to a significant increase in the voter registration of foreigners and raised awareness among key actors of the importance of foreigners' political participation.
In response to a massive influx of applicants for international protection from 2015, the State had substantially increased the resources and staff of the former National Office for Integration. Through its “pathway to integration” initiative, the Luxembourg Government aided the integration of applicants for international protection.
The Centre for Equal Treatment aimed to promote, analyse and monitor equal treatment between all persons, without discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic origin, sex, religion or belief. The Government planned to involve the Centre for Equal Treatment more closely in decision-making on combatting discrimination, having conferred more powers to it and increased its budget and human resources in July 2020.
In 2019, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights published a report entitled "Being Black in the European Union", which highlighted that the problems related to racial discrimination were more serious than previously estimated in Luxembourg. In response, the Chamber of Deputies adopted in July 2020 a motion inviting the Luxembourg Government to prepare a study on the phenomenon of racism in Luxembourg. This study had four objectives: to draw up an inventory of the mechanisms and instruments in place, their knowledge and their use; to establish and stabilise the data collection methodology; to identify "risk groups" and discriminatory areas, situations and contexts; and to formulate policy recommendations.
The study highlighted that there were struggles to apply the law in practice, and that there were few convictions for discrimination, due to a low number of complaints of discrimination. There were barriers to submitting complaints, such as cost, a lack of evidence and fear of reprisals. The study also showed that structural racism in Luxembourg was widespread in a number of key areas of society, such as access to housing, job search, education and on social networks. The main grounds of discrimination identified were lack of knowledge of the Luxemburgish language, skin colour, distinctive cultural signs, and stereotypes. On the basis of the study, policy recommendations were made. The recommendations aimed in particular to raise awareness and improve knowledge of the phenomenon by adopting a sectoral approach, particularly in key areas of housing, employment and education. The study also recommended strengthening legal aid systems, including strengthening the Centre for Equal Treatment, and developing easily accessible structures for victims of racial discrimination. The Luxembourg Government intended to draw inspiration from the results and recommendations made in this study to develop new awareness-raising campaigns and new projects within the framework of the National Action Plan on Integration.
RHÉA ZIADÉ, Consultative Commission for Human Rights of Luxembourg, said it was regrettable that the State party distinguished between Luxembourg and non-Luxembourg citizens in the legislative framework on equal treatment, ignoring the recommendations of several national and international bodies. The Commission also expressed regret that the Equal Treatment Act 2006 did not give skin colour and descent as grounds for discrimination.
There was a lack of information regarding ethnicity in Luxembourg; the Commission called on the State to improve ethnicity statistics. The Centre for Equal Treatment had few financial and human resources; the Commission called for it to be given the power to take legal action, to intervene in judicial and administrative proceedings, to conduct investigations, to assist in the compilation of ethnic statistics, and to monitor national anti-discrimination and anti-racist measures.
The National Plan of Action on Integration did not combat discrimination and gave little information on the implementation of planned measures, in particular deadlines, the budget, and monitoring procedures. The Commission called for improvements to be made on these issues.
There were gaps in the Labour Code regarding protections of foreign citizens’ right to work. It was also difficult for foreign citizens to obtain housing, and there had been cases of discrimination against refugees. The Commission welcomed the implementation of universal health care coverage, but expressed regret about the three-month residence requirement. This raised questions about the practical implementation of this new system and its adequacy.
Finally, Ms. Zadié said that the State had an obligation to act against broadcasts and online media inciting racial hatred or violence. An amendment to the Law on Electronic Media was necessary to effectively combat discrimination in the media.
Questions from Committee Experts
IBRAHIMA GUISSE, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Luxembourg, said the very high-level composition of the delegation testified to the importance that the State party attached to the dialogue with the Committee. Luxembourg was experiencing significant population growth, mainly due to immigration, and like any country of immigration, it faced challenges related to the protection of groups covered by the Convention. The Luxembourg in Figures document provided some information, but there was a lack of data, and racism was not visible. What measures had been implemented to strengthen data collection? Did the law on data protection include ethnic indicators? What measures were in place to support non-nationals in obtaining housing?
Would the State party incorporate all grounds for discrimination, including those mentioned by the Convention, in the Criminal and Labour Codes? What measures were being taken to ensure the development of groups protected by the Convention? The State was planning to take affirmative action measures and ensure equal treatment of women and men. Mr. Guisse called for more information on awareness campaigns being carried out related to racial discrimination.
What measures were in place to recognise racial discrimination as an aggravating circumstance, and to ban all organizations inciting racial hatred?
There had been an increase of racial hatred in the media and online, particularly attacking refugees and asylum seekers. Mr. Guisse commended measures in place to prevent racial abuse online and requested information about penalties in such cases.
BAKARI SIDIKI DIABY, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Luxembourg, said 43 per cent of complaints made about discrimination concerned the colour of skin. Over 40 per cent of Luxembourg’s citizens believed that racial discrimination had increased in recent years. There were also barriers to making complaints about discrimination, with legal fees being costly. What judicial remedies were available for financially disadvantaged people? Had the State party taken measures to establish an independent body to tackle racial discrimination?
Were there non-judicial alternatives that allowed victims of discrimination to exercise their rights? What did the State party plan to do to strengthen the Centre for Equal Treatment and give it the power to obtain legal documents?
Would the State party create a comprehensive national plan for fighting racial discrimination? Mr. Diaby asked for information and statistics on complaints of racial discrimination given to the police, and the steps taken to deal with those complaints.
Another Committee Expert called for more current information about the implementation of the Convention in judgements handed down by the courts. The Committee had recommended several times that Luxembourg allow the Centre for Equal Treatment to take part in legal proceedings. Why had this recommendation not yet been acted upon?
One Committee Expert said that the training of Luxembourg’s police officers encompassed human rights training and asked whether training regarding racial discrimination was included.
The Expert expressed appreciation for the disaggregated data on complaints regarding racial discrimination that had been provided, but asked the delegation to clarify what were the nationalities of “third country” complainants.
Another Committee Expert said a number of reports of racial discrimination made to police were not followed up. Why had such complaints not been followed up? Had complainants been informed?
A Committee Expert said that it was difficult to understand the State’s distinction between immigrants and “seekers of international protection”. The Expert noted that there was promotion of diversity though initiatives such as the Diversity Award. What did this award consist of?
The Expert noted that “foreigners” were allowed to participate in communal elections but asked for more information about the definition of “foreigner” in this case.
Another Committee Expert asked whether there had been any significant changes in refugee influxes since 2018, the last year in which data was provided. Had there been an influx in Ukrainian asylum seekers recently, and how had the State responded to influxes?
Responses from the Delegation
The delegation said that statistics on nationality and country of birth were not divided according to the ethnic make-up of the population and said that Luxembourg would welcome the Committee’s advice on this issue. The most recent data from the 2021 Census was being processed and would be forwarded to the Committee.
In the justice and police sectors, there were no detailed statistics regarding grounds for discrimination, but there was a legal framework on discrimination within the Criminal Code identifying 17 prohibited grounds for discrimination. In 2019, there were 55 complaints of discrimination under the Criminal Code and in 2020 there were 92 complaints.
The delegation said that there was no definition of race or ethnicity within Luxembourg’s laws. However, the Criminal Code had been amended to add distinctions regarding discrimination based on ethnicity in 2018. There had also been a law implemented in 2020 that strengthened the Centre for Equal Treatment. Further, there was a law concerning discrimination in the media. There had also been indirect progress to prohibiting discrimination through including the provisions of the Istanbul Convention on Domestic Violence in domestic law. The European Convention on Human Rights was very often cited in domestic court proceedings. Judges bore in mind the hierarchy of international laws when applying domestic law, following the provisions of the Criminal Code.
A bill had been drafted that defined aggravating circumstances related to discrimination. Luxembourg was also active regarding reporting of hate crime, and a draft law on hate crime was being prepared. There were also several laws related to hate speech, such as a law prohibiting speech that incited racial hatred.
The delegation introduced flagship cases regarding racial discrimination. In one 2015 case related to discrimination against refugees on a social network, a judge had referenced the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the Convention. The judge handed down a fine to the accused, who admitted guilt, of 1,000 euros. The intention of this sentence was to combat racial discrimination in all its forms. In another case of discrimination of Syrian refugees on social media, the accused pled not guilty, but this plea was overturned, and the accused was issued a fine of 2,000 euros. In one case of discrimination through social media, the judge referenced the Convention and issued a fine and a six-month jail term. In yet another case, a person disseminating discriminatory messages from a youth hostel was expelled from that hostel. Further, in a case of terrorist propaganda published in the media, a jail sentence was suspended, and the offender was placed on a de-radicalisation programme, one of the measures the State had put in place to discourage racial discrimination.
There was an online platform implemented by the State that sought to promote the positive use of information technology and prevent online discrimination. Hate speech could be reported via the platform anonymously, and these complaints were submitted directly to the police. Further, there was an online platform supporting victims of racial discrimination and providing de-radicalising education for offenders.
The Police Act had been overhauled in 2018, with a General Police Inspectorate established separately from the police force. Reports of discrimination from the police could be made to this body via a dedicated online platform.
There was training for police officers and people in legal professions in human rights and the United Nations Conventions. The Government had also taken measures to improve the protection of rights in the context of discrimination. There was a draft law with specific provisions on management of personal data in judicial proceedings. There was also a draft law on police files. These laws had been drafted to protect personal data.
In Luxembourg law, there was a very broad definition of “victim”. Victims could make complaints directly to police or online. Once proceedings began, victims were provided with information in multiple languages on their rights and procedural guarantees, such as their right to utilise victims’ services. Judicial assistance had also been reformed. Victims had access to a lawyer on a sliding scale of resources, as well as other legal aid.
There were various State partners and stakeholders involved in upholding diversity in business.
Luxembourg was aware of the problem of the lack of data, however, the State had learned lessons from the study. Racism remained a problem in Luxembourg. The Nazi occupation was one example of why the State had historically avoided collecting data on ethnicity.
Questions from Committee Experts
IBRAHIMA GUISSE, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Luxembourg, thanked the delegation for its answers, and the additional information to be provided in writing. The Expert noted that there were visible statistics related to people from European States, but a lack of visibility in statistics on non-European persons. How would the State address this?
The Expert also asked if the State would address legislation that distinguished between Luxembourg and non-Luxembourg citizens regarding equal treatment.
BAKARI SIDIKI DIABY, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Luxembourg, said that the State was not making the most of the potential of the Centre on Equal Treatment. What measures were in place to support the enaction of its recommendations?
Responses from the Delegation
The delegation said that the Inter-Ministerial Committee consulted with civil society. The State party would work with the Centre on Equal Treatment regarding the recommendations of the Committee.
Questions from Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked whether there was a system for applying for citizenship in Luxembourg.
Another Committee Expert asked whether the case law mentioned referred to specific rights that had been violated. How did criminal law take stock of structural discrimination, and ensure awareness of this discrimination?
One Committee Expert congratulated the delegation on its excellent answers. The Expert asked how many police officers had been trained under the new training programme, and how did it improve on the previous programme?
A Committee Expert said that there were 55 discrimination offenses reported and fewer than 10 convictions per year. What were the number of complaints lodged and prosecutions concerning hate crimes?
The Expert also asked whether international conventions were directly implemented into domestic law, or whether it was a dualist system.
A Committee Expert asked whether judicial rulings on hate crimes and discrimination were final rulings? If courts handed down differing rulings, that did not solve the problem. Rulings needed to be final.
Was there proper coordination between the bodies working to protect human rights? Was there a coordinating body?
Responses from the Delegation
The Nationality Act of 2017 specified the process for obtaining Luxembourg citizenship.
In Luxembourg’s Criminal Code, there were 17 prohibited grounds of discrimination, as well as prohibitions of hate speech. Judges took into consideration intent and material evidence.
When police services were reformed, a training course on human rights was established that was taught by legal professors.
Rulings did not always refer to the exact clauses of the Criminal Code on which they were based.
There were no statistics on hate crimes, as the law on hate crimes was still being drafted.
There was a recent ruling concerning a human rights activist who had been publicly slandered online. The case was brought before the court and the offender prosecuted. This case acted as a deterrent regarding such discrimination.
There was a one-stop shop for human rights that oversaw the various human rights bodies as part of its mandate. The various institutes had clearly defined mandates and worked together as necessary. The most important point was establishing the first port of call for victims of discrimination.
Questions from Committee Experts
IBRAHIMA GUISSE, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Luxembourg, said that the Convention called for the prohibition of racial profiling. What measures were in place in Luxembourg to prohibit racial profiling, especially by the police? What disciplinary measures were in place for police that engaged in this practice?
Noting that the National Action Plan did not address discrimination, he asked how the State party assessed integration and the impact of integration policies. Were policies reviewed periodically?
Mr. Guisse said that in secondary school education, a higher number of non-nationals dropped out of education in comparison to nationals. What measures were in place to support the education of non-nationals? How did the State assess the knowledge of migrant children when they did not have access to language education?
The Rapporteur noted that 75 per cent of unskilled jobs were filled by migrants, and that the poverty level was six times higher for non-nationals. What measures were in place to support non-nationals’ access to the labour market?
He congratulated Luxembourg for reducing the processing period for asylum applications from nine to six months. What measures were in place to support access to the labour market for asylum seekers?
What measures were being taken to protect vulnerable groups from the pandemic, and related stigmatisation? What was the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable groups?
BAKARI SIDIKI DIABY, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Luxembourg, said that the accommodation provided for applicants for international protection fell short in terms of hygiene and living space, and applicants were transferred from one centre to another. Such applicants faced difficulties regarding access to social housing, and were frequently evicted from housing. Have support measures for accessing housing and integration made an impact on such problems?
Mr. Diaby also called for information on why the “Combatting Discrimination” chapter was removed from the National Action Plan. What was the number of applications for asylum, and what were the grounds for rejecting such applications? Were people fleeing wars being accepted?
Luxembourg law allowed for the administrative detention of children as a last resort. What measures were being taken to stop the administrative detention of the children of asylum seekers?
The Co-Rapporteur regretted that the National Action Plan on Human Trafficking had not been updated in 2020 as planned. When would this plan be updated, and what new measures would be introduced? Better data on trafficking would allow for more effective measures. What measures were being taken to improve data on trafficking, and to identify victims and provide them with appropriate support?
There was no specific legislation on statelessness. What measures were being taken to determine the status of stateless persons? Did stateless persons have access to Luxembourg nationality?
Video streaming platforms did not appear to be covered in the law prohibiting hate speech in the media. Could the State party introduce a law that prohibited hate speech in all forms of media?
IBRAHIMA GUISSE, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Luxembourg, asked what measures were being taken to prevent discrimination against people of African descent? Fifty-seven per cent of persons of African descent felt that they were discriminated against based on the colour of their skin, according to the 2020 national survey on racism. What activities were being planned regarding the “Decade for People of African Decent”?
What measures were in place to prevent racial discrimination in school syllabuses? What measures were being taken to educate children about colonial slavery and its consequences?
Another Committee Expert said that compulsory education in Luxembourg was from four to 16. What was the enrolment ratio for foreigners, particularly in higher education? The teacher to student ratio was very good, at one to eight, but the drop-out rate was high for a developed country. What was the reason for this?
One Committee Expert congratulated Luxembourg for adopting legislation on universal health care. What statistics had prompted the State to adopt universal health care? How did the law improve access to health care? Did the State use artificial intelligence to profile foreign nationals and improve their access to health?
Another Committee Expert asked what the delegation referred to when they used the term “structural, systemic discrimination”?
Responses from the Delegation
The delegation said that Luxembourg law set out that foreign citizens who had resided in Luxembourg for five years could stand in elections. A draft bill was being prepared that reduced the required residency period.
Courts could directly apply international conventions in Luxembourg, and judges did so.
The police system was overhauled in 2018, with the introduction of two new laws that amended the police act. The Police Inspectorate General oversaw the operations of the police. This body ensured that values were respected within the police force and investigated any issues.
The national health care service was available to all regardless of origin, status or nationality. There was a three-month waiting period. Every bill was paid for by the national health care service. Access to health care was exactly the same regardless of nationality.
The National Reception Agency was responsible for all aspects of reception, including housing, clothing and access to health services. The number of beds provided for applicants for international protection had doubled in the past year, from 2,000 to over 4,000. This was implemented to deal with the influx in refugees from Ukraine. Staff had also been increased significantly and 19 additional accommodation facilities were also established to ensure that people were received in a dignified manner. Luxembourg had been stretched even before the Ukraine crisis, but huge investments had been made together with partners such as the Red Cross and Caritas. As soon as new accommodation facilities were available, older facilities were closed to ensure that quality accommodation was provided. Luxembourg followed the recommendations of the European Agency on Asylum regarding the accommodation facilities that it provided.
A tool for detecting the vulnerability of applicants had been developed, as well as an empowerment tool for asylum seekers. There was also a “cash for food” programme. The State was investing in data management tools. People were only transferred when they lived in a dilapidated centre or when their family expanded. The Government had been working to ensure that kitchens were available in all accommodation units.
The Government had also launched an awareness campaign on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccinations in five languages aimed at refugees and asylum seekers. Isolated rooms were provided within accommodation for people who tested positive, and quarantine facilities were provided for new arrivals. Disinfectant and masks were made available at accommodation facilities, and vaccination campaigns were also undertaken. Benefits were paid directly to bank accounts to reduce contact.
Housing was an issue in Luxembourg and a major cause of emigration. The housing crisis affected both nationals and non-nationals. The criteria for approving and rejecting protection applications was determined by the Geneva Convention. People who did not meet the criteria given in the Geneva Convention were not granted protection status. There were 5,000 people from Ukraine who had applied for temporary protection status, and 100 people were being processed per day. Third country nationals coming from outside the European Union could apply for a residency permit.
The Government was considering the proposal to ban the temporary detention of minors. It tended to avoid the detention of minors, providing alternative housing when possible. Women, families and vulnerable persons were no longer housed in reception centres.
Stateless persons had access to nationality if they had resided in Luxembourg for five years or more. Children born in Luxembourg to stateless persons received the nationality of Luxembourg upon birth. In future, a process to recognise statelessness would be implemented.
Several measures had been adopted to prevent human trafficking. Interpretation was provided for victims of human trafficking in courts. There was also a law on human trafficking that strengthened punishments for offenders. Residency permits provided to victims of trafficking could be renewed for six months at a time. The Red Cross and Caritas also provided support for victims. A campaign provided information to potential victims in various languages. Investigations of forced labour and other forms of trafficking were carried out by the police. Support was provided to victims throughout criminal proceedings.
The current integration approach was more generalist, and did not discriminate based on race or ethnicity. The National Action Plan did not include discrimination, but it focused on integration. The Accompanied Integration Programme aimed to support integration into Luxembourg society through language courses and training courses on life in Luxembourg. Languages courses were provided. There were qualitative and quantitative indicators that were used to assess the impact of support programmes.
A study on racism held in 2022 took stock of discrimination against persons of different groups in various sectors. Books had been distributed to schools that raised the issue of racial discrimination. There were also training programmes for school staff regarding racism.
All children had a right to education regardless of status. Schools had been kept open for as long as possible during the pandemic. Even when schools had been closed, contact was maintained. Parents and families were provided with information in various languages. There were plans to increase the age of compulsory education to 18. Children aged between 16 and 18 were the most likely to drop out of school, so the State was working on measures to encourage alternative pathways to school education for such persons. Classes in different languages were provided to help children from different linguistic backgrounds. Textbooks and school meals would be made free as of next year, as would non-formal extracurricular activities. Mediation services were launched in 2018 to ensure that children with special needs and migrant children were kept in school. Basic teacher training included a number of subjects that raised awareness about social, cultural and language differences amongst children and families.
Broadcasting services were regulated by a law to ensure respect and protection of dignity. No broadcast could contain content that discriminated against a certain group. Journalists were required to make efforts to fight discriminatory comments related to media content, and to respect the fundamental rights of human beings in the content that they produced.
Questions from Committee Experts
IBRAHIMA GUISSE, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Luxembourg, asked whether equality was being considered in the Constitutional review.
BAKARI SIDIKI DIABY, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Luxembourg, asked how the State assessed migrant children’s knowledge of French and German before entering formal education. Did the State plan to increase classes in French in primary education?
The delegation said that there was no formal assessment of migrant children’s language skills before entering primary education, but classes were designed to provide appropriate language training to migrant children. The aim of schools was to provide migrant children with close contact to local children. All educators needed to undergo training on multilingual education and on developing students’ education skills. Classes promoted Luxemburgish and French, but also children’s mother tongues needed to be used in language education. It was important to ensure contact with French during preschool education. Teachers assessed children’s language skills, and provided follow-up support to children who required it. Teaching in French was not provided at primary school level, but there was a project providing education on reading and writing in French.
An activist fighting for women’s rights and the rights of people of African descent had become a victim of a racist and sexist attack online. This activist had received support from the State and civil society. This was one example of Luxembourg’s drive to protect human rights defenders from racism and sexism.
Questions from Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked whether police qualified victims of human trafficking and provided protections. Was there another body that could intervene to identify victims?
Women were discriminated against worldwide. Did the health care system have provisions related to reproductive rights?
Another Committee Expert said that since monism prevailed in Luxembourg, the Convention and its provisions must also prevail. Did its provisions have the same hierarchy as national provisions that combatted discrimination? What happened when there were differences between international conventions and national legislation? Were there provisions in national legislation regarding this issue?
A Committee Expert noted that awareness campaigns related to the COVID-19 pandemic were carried out in 10 languages. What was the criteria for choosing these languages, and what support was provided to people who did not speak those languages?
Responses from the Delegation
The delegation said that after the three-month waiting period, all health care services were available to migrant women. There was no discrimination at this level. An information system on reproductive health was also in place, and this provided support to migrant women who sought it.
The Government had established COVID-19 prevention and vaccination campaigns. These campaigns were prepared in various languages based on the number of speakers of each of the languages in Luxembourg. All persons had equal access to vaccinations, and well-educated staff and interpreters were able to provide support in languages in which material was not prepared.
The police handled the identification of victims in trafficking cases. There was a victim protection unit within the police that handled this.
Luxembourg had provisions under which laws were approved before being adopted. The Constitutional Council was responsible for interpreting the conformity of national laws to international conventions.
IBRAHIMA GUISSE, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Luxembourg, thanked the delegation and congratulated it for its detailed responses and report. The institutional, political and multicultural dynamics of States were important factors to analyse for the Committee, and the large delegation had helped the Committee to do just that.
ANNE GOEDERT, Goodwill Ambassador for Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg and head of the delegation , thanked the Committee for the lively discussion. Luxembourg was committed to contributing to the functioning of the Committee. The challenges that Luxembourg faced included COVID-19, hate speech, and human trafficking. The State was aware of its responsibility to respect all persons in vulnerable situations, including migrants and refugees. Luxembourg also needed to address issues concerning access to the labour market and housing. She expressed hope that the dialogue had helped to increase the Committee’s understanding regarding the situation in Luxembourg. The State’s goal was to create a just and inclusive society. Luxembourg would continue to work on resolving its issues and implementing the recommendations of the Committee.
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