Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The individual complaint to the CERD:

  • may be brought by any individual who claims that his/ her rights under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination have been violated (e.g. by an administrative decision or the court judgement).
  • must be brought in person or by a plenipotentiary acting on behalf of the complainant (if it is impossible because the person stays currently in detention, the complaint may be brought by his/ her family on behalf of the complainant).
  • may be lodged after all domestic remedies have been exhausted, unless it appears that such remedies would be ineffective or unreasonably prolonged

The complaint must be related to the infringement on the rights that has taken place after 2nd December, 1998, i.e. the date of the ratification of the Convention by Poland (unless the infringement was initiated by other events before this date, or the consequences of these events constitute the infringement).

Moreover, the complaint cannot be anonymous (although the data may be disclosed on request). It will not be considered admissible if the same matter is pending before or has been the subject of a decision by another international procedure, for example at the European Tribunal on Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The complaint should be sent by post to the following address. It need not take any particular form, yet it is recommended to use the model complaint form (to be found below). It is also recommended to ask a lawyer for assistance or address one of the NGOs providing legal aid.

Similarly to the complaints procedure in Strasbourg, complaints to this Committee must be submitted within six months of the final decision by a national authority in your case (since all domestic remedies had been exhausted).

Example
G., a citizen of Afghanistan, is trying for a long time to register the Association of Afghani Residents in Poland – unfortunately, with no success. In the court he encounters obstacles concerning registration and is being called to complete missing information. G. suspects that the court does not want to register his Association on the basis of his and other members’ nationality. Formal problems he deals with seem to be just a pretext for the court. The result is prolongation of the procedure.

If the above conditions are met, G. may lodge a complaint in the CERD against the infringement on the article 5, letter d, item IX of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms off Racial Discrimination, i.e. the prohibition of discrimination in exercising the right to assembly and association.

Article 5 of the Convention states: “In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and 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 following rights:
(.)
(d) other civil rights, in particular:
(.)
(ix) the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

The address of the Committee:

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Palais Wilson
52 Rue des Pacquis
1211 Geneva, Switzerland
fax: (+41)(22) 917-9022
e-mail: tb-petitions.hchr@unog.ch

The application form can be found here.