Europe’s shame – deaths linked to racism on the rise


Europe’s shame – deaths linked to racism on the rise

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Written by: IRR News Team, IRR News Team


As concern mounts that the economic downturn will lead to a surge in racism, a report from the IRR suggests that EU states are already pursuing policies which place vulnerable minority communities at risk.

The IRR’s investigation into 105 deaths in the EU in 2007 and 2008 uniquely includes not only deaths due to direct individual acts of racism or the violence of the far-Right, but deaths that occurred through the indirect racism of state institutions in immigration removal centres or after contact with the police.

According to IRR Executive Director, Liz Fekete, the author of the report. ‘I find it ironic that later this month, EU leaders will mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination when so many of the tragic deaths recorded in our report are linked, in one way or another, to the policies EU member states pursue. If vulnerable groups in our society continue to be demonised and stigmatised, then the culture of violence perpetuated by the far-Right will flourish.’

Main findings:

  • The largest number of deaths – a total of fifty-three – are linked to European asylum and immigration policies, particularly target-driven deportation ones. Suicides in immigration detention centres and other venues linked to sub-standard medical care, absence of suicide prevention strategies, length of detention and the sheer level of despair faced by deportees account for the largest number of deaths. However, roughly one quarter of these fifty-three asylum and immigration-related deaths occurred after contact with immigration police as ‘fishing raids’ for ‘illegals’ and identity checks on the streets escalate. (Deaths related to the policing of immigration appear to be increasing year-on-year.)
  • At least thirty-nine deaths are linked to intolerance and hostility towards cultural diversity. At least nine people died, in horrific circumstances, as a result of far-Right violence in Germany, Spain, Italy and Belgium while two fatal arson attacks targeting Roma are still under investigation in Hungary. Random violence, linked to territorialism, gang culture and a hostility towards minorities or anyone deemed different, is also a growing menace in Europe, yet the authorities consistently fail to recognise racism as an aggravating factor in such killings.
  • A further thirteen deaths of members of minority ethnic groups, mostly Roma or those of North African origin, occurred after contact with police forces, outside the immigration sector. Of these thirteen deaths, six occurred in France. One quarter of the total number of cases documented in the IRR’s report occurred after contact, sometimes violent, with Europe’s police forces.

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The report Europe's shame: a report on 105 deaths linked to racism or government migration and asylum policies is an edition of the European Race Bulletin, a journal published by the London-based educational charity, the Institute of Race Relations. Liz Fekete, the report's author is available for interview. For more information or to obtain a copy of the report, contact the Liz Fekete, on 020 7837 0041 or email: liz@irr.org.uk.


The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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