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Finland shamed on racism in EU study

  • Around 70 percent of people of African descent say they have been stopped by police in Italy (Photo: Alice Latta)

Around a third of people of African descent across a dozen EU states have experienced some form of racist harassment in the past five years.

The findings, out Wednesday (28 November) in a report by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), paints a dire picture for people whose skin colour is not white.

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"Black people in the EU today are still victims of widespread and unacceptable levels of discrimination and harassment simply because of their skin colour," said FRA's director Michael O'Flaherty, in a statement.

He said EU states must put together policies to tackle the racism, noting that "racial discrimination and harassment are commonplace."

The FRA's 80-page report is based on interviews with 6,000 people of African descent across 12 EU states.

Of those 12 EU states, Finland tops the chart in terms of perceived racial harassment, described as offensive comments and gestures.

At least 63 percent of those surveyed in Finland had experienced some form of harassment motivated by racism.

This was followed by Luxembourg at 52 percent and Ireland at 51 percent.

The least amount of racial harassment was registered in Malta at 20 percent, followed by the UK at 21 percent, and Portugal at 23 percent.

Similar listings of EU state rankings were found for those who experienced violence motivated by racism.

The highest rates of violence were recorded in Finland (14 percent), followed by Ireland and Austria at both 13 percent and then Luxembourg at 11 percent.

The lowest rates of violence was found in Portugal at 2 percent and the United Kingdom at 3 percent.

Men in traditional clothing were also twice as likely to get assaulted.

At least one in ten of those acts were committed by a police officer, posing further questions on racial profiling.

In Italy and Austria, people are more likely to get stopped by the police because of their skin colour.

The discrimination also spreads into housing and jobs, condemning many to poverty because of their skin colour.

Some landlords refuse to rent out their homes, while a quarter are discriminated against while at work.

"Many also face precarious living conditions, which can exacerbate social exclusion," notes the report.

The survey covered Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

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