UN experts spoke out about the links between discrimination and slavery at the webinar “Contemporary Slavery & Racial Discrimination: Civil Society Support to Survivors during the Pandemic” organised by the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the Geneva Human Rights Platform and the UK Mission in Geneva, on 2 December. Several experts raised concern over caste discrimination and caste-based occupations as well as the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable groups.
The Special Rapporteur (SR) on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, on Friday, 11 May 2018, concluded her official visit to the UK and issued her end of mission statement. During the visit the Special Rapporteur met with the UK government and Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales representatives. Ms Achiume also met with civil society in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast.
Despite ample evidence that caste-discrimination in UK is a human rights issue, and a submission made by the Dalit Solidarity Network-UK and IDSN detailing the problem, not a single state mentioned caste discrimination at the UN UPR review of the UK. Human rights campaigners are disappointed at the negligence of the international community when it comes to addressing caste in the UK context. DSN-UK have summarised the review on their website.
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’.