Sixty-fifth session (2005) General recommendation XXXI on the prevention of racial discrimination in the administration and functioning of the criminal justice system The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Recalling the definition of racial discrimination set out in article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Recalling the provisions of article 5 (a) of the Convention, under which States parties have an obligation to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the right to equal treatment before the tribunals and all other organs administering justice, Recalling that article 6 of the Convention requires States parties to assure to everyone within their jurisdiction effective protection and remedies, through the competent national tribunals and other State institutions, against any acts of racial discrimination, as well as the right to seek from such tribunals just and adequate reparation or satisfaction for any damage suffered as a result of such discrimination, Referring to paragraph 25 of the declaration adopted by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, which expressed “profound repudiation of the racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance that persist in some States in the functioning of the penal system and in the application of the law, as well as in the actions and attitudes of institutions and individuals responsible for law enforcement, especially where this has contributed to certain groups being overrepresented among persons under detention or imprisoned”, Referring to the work of the Commission on Human Rights and of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (see E/CN.4/Sub.2/2005/7) concerning discrimination in the criminal justice system, Bearing in mind the reports of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Referring to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, in particular article 16, which stipulates that “[a] refugee shall have free access to the courts of law on the territory of all Contracting States”, Bearing in mind the observations relating to the functioning of the system of justice made in the Committee’s conclusions concerning reports submitted by States parties and in general recommendations XXVII (2000) on discrimination against Roma, XXIX (2002) on discrimination based on descent and XXX (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, Convinced that, even though the system of justice may be regarded as impartial and not affected by racism, racial discrimination or xenophobia, when racial or ethnic discrimination does exist in the administration and functioning of the system of justice, it constitutes a particularly serious violation of the rule of law, the principle of equality before the law, the principle of fair trial and the right to an independent and impartial tribunal, through its direct effect on persons belonging to groups which it is the very role of justice to protect, 1

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