On 28 August 2016, as a part of the regular review process, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) published its concluding observations to the UK. The Committee expressed its concern that ‘several provisions of the Equality Act 2010 have not yet been brought into legal effect, including Section 9(5)(a) on caste-based discrimination’. Once again the UK government is being urged to ‘Invoke Section 9(5)(a) of the Equality Act 2010 without further delay to ensure that caste-based discrimination is explicitly prohibited under law and that victims of this form of discrimination have access to effective remedies, taking into account the Committee’s general recommendation No. 29 (2002) on descent’.
However, this recommendation did not come easy but was a result of persistent lobbying and campaigning by a number of actors. Dalit Solidarity Network UK, International Dalit Solidarity Network, Equality and Human Rights Commission (a national human rights institution in the UK) and other national non-governmental organisations prior to the review submitted their shadow reports, highlighting the need to adopt the secondary legislation, and took part in a number of informal meetings in Geneva.
Moreover, on 11 July, the UK parliament discussed caste-based discrimination and asked the Government on the planned steps to implement anti-caste based discrimination legislation. MPs questioned the delay in invoking the power contained in the Equality Act 2010 to provide for caste to be “an aspect of race”, and following the timetable issued by the UK Government in 2013 for the introduction of such legislation, research and consultation. The UK Government is yet to publish its feasibility study undertaken in 2014.
MP Michael Cashman noted as a concern the [government’s] “casual disregard of the United Nations and our international treaty obligations”. Referring to the recommendation of the CERD review of the UK in 2011, he stated it “could not be clearer: “Put in practice a national strategy to eliminate discrimination against caste, through the immediate adoption of the Equality Law of 2010 that prohibits such discrimination, in conformity with its international human rights obligations, including”, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s, “General Recommendation 29 and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism”’.
IDSN and DSN-UK call on the UK Government to take specific measures, in accordance with the CERD General Recommendation 29, to eliminate this form of discrimination, including adopting a national strategy, undertaking further research, and promoting public awareness of the issue.
CERD review process (DSN-UK news)
The UK Parliamentary debate (DSN-UK news)