Samarbejde mod diskrimination.
En fælles indsats – tak til initiativtagerne.
Mange timers arbejde med skyggerapporten til FNs kontor for menneskerettigheder (OHCR) var det hele værd skriver aktivisterne bag rapporten:
Den vigtigste udvikling til dato er kommet gennem arbejdet med en række ngo ‘er, som dannede en koalition og i fællesskab har skrevet en skygge rapport til FN’ s Kontor for Menneskerettigheder (OHCHR), der påberåber sig diskrimination. FN ‘s Udvalg om økonomiske, sociale og kulturelle rettigheder ( CESCR ) har stiltiende anerkendt gyldigheden af kritikken af ngo’ er (SOS Racisme Danmark, Centret for dansk-muslimske relationer, kvinder i dialog, flygtninge Velkommen, Almen Modstand [fælles modstand], DEMOS og ENAR Danmark) ved at fremsætte en række anbefalinger, der udfordrer de “mange tilbageskridt” foranstaltninger, der er indført af den danske regering, og minder den danske stat om sine forpligtelser i henhold til den internationale konvention om afskaffelse af alle former for racediskrimination (CERD).
Her er det centrale uddrag på engelsk. Vedhæftet er hele rapporten i et link – indtil videre på engelsk.
…”The most significant development to date has come through the work of a number of NGOs, which formed a coalition and jointly authored a shadow report to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) alleging discrimination. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has tacitly acknowledged the validity of the criticisms of the NGOs (SOS Racisme Denmark, the Centre for Danish-Muslim Relations, Women in Dialogue, Refugees Welcome, Almen Modstand [Common Resistance], DEMOS and ENAR Denmark), by making a number of recommendations challenging the ‘numerous retrogressive’ measures introduced by the Danish government and reminding the Danish state of its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
Patiently documenting discrimination
What the NGOs’ report set out to do was to methodically unpick the discrimination, direct or indirect, in the laws outlined above to demonstrate beyond doubt their discriminatory aspect. From start to finish, the ‘ghetto package’ is an example of direct discrimination, they argue, because its entire edifice rests on the targeting of areas as ‘ghettos’ based on the number of ‘non-western’ people residing there, a conceptual starting point which stigmatises already marginalised, racialised minorities. It also draws on Islamophobia, with the ‘burqa ban’ deemed another example of direct discrimination (on the basis of religion), while the mandatory day care package, in addition to being discriminatory, is an attempt at forced assimilation. Double punishment zones are also clear examples of discrimination, the NGOs say, as all citizens should be equal before the law, no matter where they live.
And it seems the United Nations has heard them. Though the conclusions to its sixth periodic review, released in October 2019 by the CESCR, are written in the usual cautious language of UN reports, they do urge the government to adopt a rights-based approach in efforts to address residential segregation. They criticise all the laws comprising the ‘ghetto package’, and ask, amongst other things, that the Danish government removes ‘the definitional element of a “ghetto” with reference to residents from “non-Western” countries’ – with that very term described in no uncertain terms as a ‘discriminator on the basis of ethnic origin and nationality’. The ‘coercive and punitive’ aspects of L38 are all recognised, with an appeal to the Danish government to replace sanctions with ‘meaningful consultation with the concerned communities’ and to give communities the support they need to ‘facilitate integration’.
Concepts and frameworks
Throughout the NGOs’ submission, they had argued that it was not just the discriminatory outcomes that should be under the spotlight, but the ‘us’ (westerners) and ‘them’ (non-westerners) framework which makes use of concepts that, even if not overtly racist, institutionalise discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and nationality into the very structures of the state.
A central concept of the ‘ghetto package’ is the labelling of areas as ‘vulnerable’ or ‘ghettos’ on the basis of the number of ‘non-western’ people there. This stigmatisation started in 2002 when Statistics Denmark (DST) introduced the term. Since then, all immigration statistics produced by DST utilise this term. But what does it mean? For DST, ‘western’ includes not just the 28 members of the EU countries and associated countries (the EEA), but also four Anglo-Saxon countries – the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – which, in geographical terms, are not located in the west, as the term would suggest, but merely share the characteristic of having majority white populations. Thus ‘non-western countries’, it would seem, amount to the rest of the world – so a total of 156 countries with very different characteristics are lumped into one overarching category, whose only common characteristic seems to be that the majority of the population in these countries are not white!
‘Parallel society’ and ‘ghetto’ as stigmatising notions
Building on Statistics Denmark’s discriminatory categorisation, the government went on to introduce the concept of the ‘parallel society’. First used in the 2018 government report Parallelsamfund Danmark (Parallel Societies in Denmark), it described the growth of dangerous parallel societies where citizens practise a culture with different – and threatening – religious and other values from those of the majority. Today, this negative concept of the ‘parallel society’ has come to stigmatise those who live in the so-called ‘ghettos’ as living within ‘ethnic cultural or cultural-religious’ homogeneous segregated enclaves where there is almost complete everyday civil, societal and economic segregation. It is a picture not recognised by those who live there!
Ending up with ‘social cleansing’
Denmark has a big not-for-profit housing sector run by housing associations, which has been a thorn in the side of neoliberals who believe the ‘market’ should take over this sector. Shamefully, the Social Democrats have gone along with the attack on the not-for-profit housing sector. Racism is being used to promote market interests. For the attempt to drastically reduce the number of housing associations could not have happened without mobilising fears about their ‘non-western’ residents. This is seen starkly in the debate preceding the introduction of the law, when the government stated that ‘residents in the non-profit housing sector differ significantly from residents in the general housing market by … having more than 20 percent residents of ”non-western” backgrounds … It is necessary to change the resident composition of the housing estates … It is here in particular that many residents – often immigrants from “non-Western” countries and descendants of immigrants – live in isolated enclaves and do not adapt to Danish norms and values to a sufficient extent.’
 In February 2019, the government introduced into law a ‘paradigm shift’ in refugee policy, ‘rooting out integration from the Law of Integration and shifting the focus to the return or repatriation of people of “non-Western background, whether foreign nationals or Danish citizens, with even UN settlement refugees afforded “temporary status” from now on’.
More information in the Coalition Shadow Report.”