JFBA - JFBA Statement Regarding the Draft Declaration and Plan of Action for the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR)
August 24, 2001
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), formed in 1949, is an independent organization of professionals consisting of 52 regional bar associations in Japan and Japanese attorneys, and non-governmental organizations, which in 1999 was accredited to consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
As part of its human rights activities, JFBA submitted its report to the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the occasion of the first review by the Committee of the Japanese government's report regarding the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination based on our own study of the problems under the Convention in Japan.
The fact that, in Japan, as in many other countries, serious issues remain, such as discrimination based on descent, discrimination against certain indigenous people and aliens, trafficking in persons, racial and ethnic discrimination, and that efforts to tackle with these problems must be reinforced have been recognized anew. Also, it must be noted that there are growing concerns about an increasing exclusive movement against migrant workers and their families under the economic globalization of economy, and propaganda to incite racial discrimination on the Internet. These matters must be addressed promptly as common issues all States are faced to.
Under these circumstances we consider it both timely and significant that the United Nations is advancing its activities in this sphere by proclaiming the First-Third Decades to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, and convening the World Conference to discuss this vital subject, gathering representatives of Governments, international organizations and NGOs. The declaration and programme of action to be adopted during the Conference will set guidelines for the UN and Governments in taking specific measures to resolve the problems of racism and racial discrimination. We strongly support the Conference and the adoption of its declaration and programme of action.
Hoping that the declaration and programme of action to be adopted at this Conference will prove effective as guidelines for dealing with racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and other problems related to intolerance, we hereby make the following suggestions in the four areas among all issues:
1. Measures at the national level and national legislation against racial discrimination
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should compile information such as the status of national legislation against discrimination, the contents of such laws and regulations if existing, examples of enforcement of and court decisions based on such laws, the realities of applying those laws, etc. in each country, build a database and provide it to Governments and NGOs.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should follow up on examples of use and application by States of the UN Model Legislation after its draft was finalized and give further consideration to its contents.
2. Measures at the international level and to reinforce CERD activities
As a means aimed at the reinforcement of information exchange and dissemination, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should establish a system to collect information from States, build an electronic database to provide collected information.
To reinforce the functions of treaty bodies: Firstly, an improved system to follow up the review of reports should be established and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination should keep contact to State parties and monitoring even after the review of reports is concluded in such ways including by maintaining communication with and by sending a special rapporteur to State parties.
Secondly, as being practiced in case of the Convention on the Rights of Child, cooperation with international organizations such as UNICEF, ILO, WHO, etc. should be considered as a way to facilitate to implement the recommendations issued by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in areas of education, children, labor, health and hygiene.
Thirdly, members of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination should include migrants, representatives of minority groups as well as indigenous populations, in addition to experts in the related issues concerning discrimination, NGO activists, etc, in order to make sure that the Committee is composed of widely varied members including persons whose rights are guaranteed by the treaty, professionals in the related fields, NGO activists, et al.
3. Discriminative expression on the Internet
Regulation of the expressions intended to promote racial discrimination on the Internet should be considered with consideration for human rights as freedom of expression and secrecy of communication. As part of efforts in this regard, such specific actions should be pursued as drafting a plan of action by the UN and Member States, developing and spreading ways for receivers to take independent actions, and educational activities by the UN, Member States and NGOs through the Internet
4. Redress of discrimination against migrant (illegal) workers
Governments should take positive measures to remove factors that obstruct the rights of foreign workers having no legal status of residence, such as fully informing them regarding the application of provisions of laws concerning labor standards, the roles of the agencies enforcing labor standards, providing training for those professionals including administrative officials and attorneys who are in a position to be consulted so that they can furnish appropriate advice, and developing a legal aid system to facilitate legal access.
Governments should find ways to secure the rights to life for foreign workers and their children who do not have residential status according to the persons in question and their emergence, even though it may not necessarily fall within the existing social security system, rather than immediately deny them such fundamentals as medical aid on the ground of lacking a residential status. For children in particular measures necessary for their proper medical care ought to be taken.
Governments should take steps to legalize the residence of foreign workers and their families who reside without residential status under certain conditions, such as when their stay is substantially prolonged and it is deemed they have settled in the regions where they live.
- Japan Federation of Bar Associations ( JFBA )
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