Speech by Ms Katri Linna,

Deputy Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination in Sweden

Madame chair,

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak before the plenary of this conference. I am taking the floor on behalf of the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination of Sweden.

First let me say that I wholeheartedly share the views expressed by Dr Barney Pityana of the South African Commission on Human Rights speaking earlier today on behalf of National Institutions on Human Rights. It is obvious that discrimination based on race, colour, national and ethnic origin takes place in every country, unfortunately also in mine.

In addition I would like to add a couple of points.

Two years ago, we adopted comprehensive laws in Sweden meant to combat discrimination based on race and religion as well as gender, sexual orientation, and disability. The laws protect job seekers and employees, and so far, we have good experiences of their efficiency. We have also found that it is absolutely necessary to protect not only against direct discrimination but also against indirect discrimination. However, legislation is not enough. It is also necessary for those affected to have an independent specialized body to go to; a body that can ensure that legislation is properly implemented and can help individuals to obtain access to justice. For example in our case the Ombudsman can take action in court on behalf of the complainant and at no cost for that person.

The Ombudsman will meet the independent specialized bodies of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland next month. At that meeting we will discuss the creation of a regional Forum for further cooperation, inter alia to share best practices, and with a view to follow-up the outcome of the World Conference here in Durban. The Ombudsman as well as her Nordic counterparts hopes very much that the Programme of Action that finally is adopted is practical and down to earth. This is necessary for it to be a tool to prevent racial discrimination from occurring, to protect individuals in all member states of the UN against racial discrimination and to offer adequate remedies if discrimination should occur.

I thank you Madame Chair.