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ECRI Annual Report 2021: Adverse impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable groups, racism in policing, intimidation of LGBTI people

Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has issued its Annual Report in which it defines the main trends in 2021 and presents multiple activities led by ECRI in the previous year.

According to the report, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increased digitalisation of services, including the education and healthcare sectors. Thereby, it further marginalised groups of people not able to use digital technologies. Numerous Covid-related restrictions imposed on schools had a negative impact on children, especially those who have already faced some difficulties in getting access to education, for example, migrant children or Roma. Lack of suitable space or equipment as well as problems with the Internet connection made it challenging or even impossible for some to follow online learning. According to the report, the majority of Council of Europe member states didn’t manage to provide any additional help.

Another matter which ECRI refers to in the report is racism in policing. As it states, it has been an issue in several countries, especially in the context of enforcing pandemic-related restrictions, such as curfews and lockdowns. The ECRI report focuses in particular on racial profiling in stop-and-search activities, the use of racist language and excessive use of force against individuals.

Covid-19 had an impact also on LGBTI people. Those still dependent on and residing with their parents were often exposed to disrespect and intimidation. Psychological counselling was restricted. Many states enforced their anti-LGBTI attitudes leading to political rhetoric against a perceived “LGBTI-ideology” or a “gender ideology”. Violations and attacks became even more visible with the adoption of the laws specifically targeting LGBTI people and their rights.