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Are there any problems concerning the implementation of national legislation prohibiting discrimination?

Key Area:
Anti-discrimination Legislation & Implementation
Discrimination, Equality
20/12/2011 - 13:53
Short Answer

Yes, partly.

Qualitative Info

While generally welcoming the introduction of the AGG, several international monitoring and/or human rights bodies have criticised certain elements of Germany’s anti-discrimination legislations and, more precisely selected AGG provisions. CERD (2008), ECRI (2009) and the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism (UN General Assembly 2010) all critically pinpointed article 19 (3) AGG which exempts landlords from the non-discrimination if the differential treatment aims at creating and maintaining ‘stable social structures regarding inhabitants and balanced settlement structures, as well as balanced economic, social and cultural conditions’. The CERD (2008: 4), for example, underscored the ‘possible negative effects in terms of indirect discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin’ in the access to housing.
In addition, ECRI pointed out in its fourth country report on Germany to the short timeframe of two months during which victims of discrimination have to formally initiate a complain (art. 15 (4) and 21 (5) AGG); moreover ECRI criticised that the Act does not explicitly ban discrimination due to one’s nationality and language and that the severely limited protection against discrimination that results from the fact that ‘public (state-funded) schools are not [subject to the provisions of the AGG]’ due to the prime responsibility of the federal states (Bundesländer) (ECRI 2009: 23).
The UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Muigai, critically commented on the limited human and financial resources at the disposal of the equality agency FADA and, ‘more importantly, the limited mandate of the Agency to carry out investigations and its inability to initiate legal proceedings, or provide legal support to victims’ (UN General Assembly 2010: 17).

In October 2009, the EU Commission argued in its reasoned opinion on Germany’s implementation of the directive 2000/43 that
(1) dismissals are not covered by the law on protection against ethnic discrimination,
(2) protection against victimisation is expressively only guaranteed in the context of employment but should clearly also apply outside employment and
(3) that a claim for sanctions on grounds of discrimination in employment is excluded if the employer is not personally liable for the non-compliance (EC 2009). The German government’s response to these critical points was recognized by the Commission and the legal proceedings against Germany were formally closed in October 2010 (EC 2010).



  • European Commission (EC) (2010), Equality: European Commission closes cases against Germany on anti-discrimination rules, Press release IP/10/1429, 28.10.2010.
  • European Commission (EC) (2010), Race equality rules: cases closed for Finland and Estonia; reasoned opinions to Germany and Netherlands, Press release IP/09/1617, 29.10.2009.
  • European Commission on Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) (2009), Fourth Country Report on Germany – fourth monitoring cycle.
  • United Nations General Assembly/Human Rights Council (2010) Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances, Githu Muigai. Mission to Germany. UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) (2008), Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 9 of the Convention: International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Germany, CERD/C/DEU/CO/18, 22.09.2008.
Groups affected/interested Migrants, Refugees, Roma & Travelers, Muslims, Ethnic minorities, Religious minorities, Linguistic minorities, Asylum seekers, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, Persons with disability
Type (R/D)
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Policing - law enforcement, Anti-discrimination, Anti-racism
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