FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Elizabeth Nelson – nicem.org.uk
077 307 47 861
028 9023 8645
The report from the Ministerial Advisory Group on Shared Education was launched today.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11 December 2012
The Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) today celebrated the opening of their new North West Regional Office, based in Derry/Londonderry.
NICEM North West office has a Development Officer dedicated to building the capacity of minority ethnic communities in the region and supporting communities to develop sustainable community groups, which will provide leadership and greater participation in decision-making mechanisms. The office will also offer advice on issues like welfare rights and immigration, and support to victims of race related hate crime.
“It is crucial that minority ethnic communities are empowered to become their own advocates on issues of importance to them, and have their voices heard at the highest levels of decision-making,” said NICEM’s Executive Director, Patrick Yu.
“The establishment of regional offices allows us to work more closely with communities to better understand and communicate local issues to decision makers.”
As part of NICEM’s Strategic Advocacy Project, the North West Office will also assist communities to carry out community-based action research on issues they identify as important – providing a strong evidence base from which policy recommendations will be made.
NICEM will work to ensure all government agencies and BME stakeholders are meeting their obligations regarding race legislation and will work to monitor performance throughout Northern Ireland as the project is implemented.
The North West Office will be open Mondays and Tuesdays from 9:00 – 16:30, Thursdays 9:00 – 17:00 and Fridays 9:00 – 16:00. The advice clinic is open on Wednesdays from 13:00 – 20:00.
NOTES TO EDITORS
NICEM’s vision is of a society where equality and diversity are respected, valued and embraced, a society free from all forms of racism, sectarianism, discrimination and social exclusion; where human rights are guaranteed. NICEM works in partnership, to bring about social change through partnership and alliance building, and to achieve equality of outcome and full participation in society.
The Strategic Advocacy Project aims to identify and address issues of socioeconomic disadvantage and systemic discrimination through a targeted programme of advocacy and lobbying focusing upon human rights and equality. The ultimate goal is to guarantee actual access to rights and the equality of result for BME communities in Northern Ireland.
For interviews and further information, contact Aggie Luczak on +44(0)2871372235 or Elizabeth Nelson on 07730747861
The report analyses responses to combating human trafficking in Northern Ireland
5 October 2011
NICEM supports UNISON in striking for the rights of the most vulnerable
This afternoon, NICEM will join UNISON on the picket line of the Belfast City Hospital in support of their strike against budget cuts in health and education. These cuts will dramatically affect the most vulnerable in our society, including minority ethnic communities.
Join us at the City Hospital from 2pm to 4pm, meet us and get answers to your questions!
NICEM Press Release: Hate Crime policy a step in the right direction but safeguards still needed. Patrick Yu, NICEM's Executive Director speaks at launch PPS's Hate Crime Policy
NICEM Press Release
1 July 2011
Hate Crime policy a step in the right direction but safeguards still needed. Patrick Yu, NICEM's Executive Director speaks at launch PPS's Hate Crime Policy
Patrick Yu, NICEM's Executive Director, was invited by the Public Prosecution Service to say a few words at the launch of their Hate Crime Policy on Thursday 30 June:
"Thank you to the Public Prosecution Service for inviting me to say a few words at today’s official launch of their Hate Crime Policy. NICEM and other groups representing vulnerable people in Northern Irleand have shared interest and stakes in this report. First of all I would like to congratulate the PPS, in particular the staff team who made this happen today.
Hate crime has always had a significant impact and more devastating consequences than other types of crime. By nature, it is committed not merely against the immediate victim or their property but against the victim’s group or community. Eventually hate crime raises the feeling of insecurity against other groups or communities. As a consequence, hate crime has revived old, or may generate new bias, prejudices and negative stereotypings of others. It also creates cycles of mistrust and tension within a society which is not a Shared Society or embraces a Shared Future in NI.
Notably, the Northern Ireland’s legal system does not include a specific statutory offence on hate crime. We only have the option of “offence aggravated by hostility” if hate elements (race, religion, sectarianism, homophobia and disability) are proved in court; only then can the judge impose an additional sentence based on the aggravating elements. But we do have a lower level of offence on abusive language, behaviour and intimidation on the grounds of gender and race under the Public Order (NI) Order 1987: the so-called “Stalking Law”, which now also extends to all the above grounds in the 2004 Order.
I am also delighted to see the breakdown of the prosecution case on hate crime, which means that the monitoring data system performs in PPS on par with England and Wales. It will be helpful, too, if the breakdown of these cases included a breakdown of category for the offence.
We published “The Next Stephen Lawrence? : Racist Violence and Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland” Research Report in June 2006, which documented the experiences of victims in the criminal justice system, in particular in the PSNI. The research report is based on NICEM’s casework consisting of over 200 victims of racist attacks between 2003-2006. Recently we have initiated a major piece of research to review the Criminal Justice Agencies in NI and the changes that have occurred following the Criminal Justice Inspectorate Report in 2007. Our report will combine an analysis of the data gathered from our casework from July 2006 to June 2011 (5 year- period). We do hope that it will be published by the end of this year. This evidence-based research informs us on what needs to be changed in terms of policy and practice.
The Criminal Justice Inspectorate published its first “Hate Crime in Northern Ireland” thematic inspection report in January 2007. A number of recommendations have been made directly to the PPS, including prominently marked on files, to bring the attention of the courts on hate crime and encourage them to develop their own Hate Crime Policy in line with those of other agencies. It is, indeed, a long process but now the new policy can guide the staff of the PPS in dealing with hate crime robustly and effectively.
The new policy adopted the definition of hate crime as recommended in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report: the PPS and other Criminal Justice Agencies are now singing from the same hymn sheet to combat hate crime, which is the most important part of the policy. The Lawrence Report’s definition is the perception-based test of the victims in order to ensure the early identification of an offence as a hate crime and to allow investigators and prosecutors to take appropriate action. The new policy is now also in line with the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales and uses the same standards in dealing with hate crime.
We are also pleased to see that the new policy which ends the previous policy, states: “not to give reason if no prosecution has been made”. We understand the legacy of the past but it should not be used as a blanket exemption. This is the foundation of the rule of law and the due process. It is also a basic human right: the right for a fair trial as a victim.
At the same time we also have the following concerns despite a standardised policy. The first one is related to plea-bargaining under the Code for Prosecutors. The policy clearly states that: “plea bargaining has no place in the practice or procedures of the Prosecution Service”. But at the same time the PPS will accept offers from the defence to plead guilty to lesser offences as long as it is consistent with the evidence and information available at the time and meets legal requirements. We need to have a safeguard mechanism if the latter takes place, such as the review of the case from a Senior Director; ideally we would prefer to have an independent panel to review these hate crime cases. Once the decision has been made, the victims must be informed immediately and have a meeting to explain the decision. We should treat plea-bargaining as a serious matter. Otherwise there is no justice for the victims.
Secondly regarding unduly lenient sentencing, I recall our Sharma case in which the victims had no right to be informed if they were not satisfied with the unduly lenient sentencing. The 28 days rule (not working days) will disadvantage the victims as no one informs them of their rights. Now it has changed as a result of the pre-sentencing Victims Impact Report. As a practical matter, the victims should be automatically informed by the PPS and/or the Courts Service with a standard letter highlighting their rights once sentencing has been passed.
Recently the European Commission has put forward a package of law, in the form of a Directive and a Regulation, to establish a minimum standard of rights, protection and support to victim of crime across the European Union. I attended a conference early this month on this piece of legislation, organised by the EU Agency: Academy of European Law in Trier. The DG Justice Commissioner, Ms. Vivian Reding, presented her vision and the details of this important piece of legislation across the EU. But you may not aware that the British government has opted-out of all criminal justice law in the EU, but keeps the right to opt-in. Since criminal justice is now under devolved powers, we should ask our Justice Minister to act in the best interests of Northern Ireland, and to opt-in the proposed Directive and Regulation in order to set the standard of rights, protection and support to victims of crimes, and in particular to support hate crime services, which are under-developed in Northern Ireland as no resources are available to these vulnerable groups.
Last but not least, education and training on this new policy for all the public prosecutors and supporting staff is essential. I recall our tailor-made training for the PPS as part of the process to develop this policy a few years back. Policy and practice can only work if staff know about the standards that govern their work. They will sing from the same hymn sheet in order to have uniformity in standards to deal with hate crime.
I shall remind you of the use of the Lawrence Report’s definition of “Institutional Racism” as an awareness-raising aspect of the training. It is worthwhile to read the definition again as it empowers public servants, and as this definition can also extend to other vulnerable groups:
“The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”
Today the PPS, through this new Hate Crime Policy, will no doubt work in partnership with vulnerable groups to provide professional services serving everyone in Northern Ireland.
Thank you very much and have the best of days."
Note: The Next Stephen Lawrence Report is available for downloading via http://nicem.org.uk/elibrary/publication/the-next-stephen-lawrence
NICEM Press release : Northern Ireland risks wasting vital brain power as BME pupils are not getting a fair deal in education. Launch of NICEM's education report.
NICEM Press Release
Thursday 30 June 2011
Northern Ireland risks wasting vital brain power as BME pupils are not getting a fair deal in education.
NICEM launches its new report on racial equality in secondary education today at the Indian Community Centre in Belfast (5.30pm-7pm). Key findings include:
* BME pupils are more than twice as likely as white pupils to leave school without a GCSE.
* 42% of 16 year old BME students have been racially bullied in school.
* Newcomer pupils are massively underrepresented in grammar schools (13.7% v 42.5%).
NICEM’s research, based on interviews with BME pupils and parents as well as teachers, makes a range of recommendations to improve educational equality for BME pupils.
Eoin Rooney (author of the report and Research Officer at NICEM) said: “The school population has changed dramatically in recent years – around 60 different first languages are spoken in Northern Ireland’s schools. Despite some progress the education sector relies too much on the good will and professionalism of those at the frontline. The Department of Education needs to more actively support schools and hold them accountable for their service to minority ethnic pupils”.
You are warmly invited to the launch of our report on
Promoting Racial Equality in Northern Ireland’s Post-Primary Schools
Date: Thursday 30th June
Time: 5.30 pm to 6.45 pm
Venue: Indian Community Centre (86 Clifton Street, Belfast BT13 1AB)
NICEM is hosting a brief seminar to mark the launch of its report on racial equality in post-primary schools. While Northern Ireland has long had a small number of minority ethnic communities, recent trends in immigration have created a much more diverse society and school population. So how have post-primary schools adapted, what are the challenges ahead and what needs to be done? Five speakers will share their views on this issue.
Economic Downturn could bring the Polish Community in Northern Ireland on the brink of poverty.
Following a series of racially motivated incidents in South Belfast, the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities has been assisting the victims.