New York- US (PANA) -- UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, rac ial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Mr.
Githu Muigai, said r a cism and xenophobia had remained "an immense challenge".
Muigai, a Kenyan national, made the statement when he presented two reports to t he UN General Assembly in New York Tuesday.
"The individual subjected to stop and searches, interrogations or arrests, solel y because of his or her perceived religious or ethnic background, the migrant, t h e refugee or asylum-seeker, who faces daily discrimination due to his or her sta t us as a non-citizen; all these people unfortunately demonstrate the validity of m y statement," he said.
On the question of incitement to racial or religious hatred, he stressed that, " vigorously interrogating and criticizing religious doctrines and their teachings is thoroughly legitimate and constitutes a significant part of the exercise of t h e right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
" The expert, however, expressed concern about acts of violence, discrimination ag ainst individuals on the basis of their religion or belief; attacks on religious sites; religious and ethnic profiling and negative stereotyping of religions, th e ir followers, sacred persons and symbols.
He called for a focus on how to effectively combat advocacy of racial or religio us hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, a dding that: "It is vital to anchor the debate and subsequent action, in the rele v ant existing international legal framework.
" The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about the "deeply marked tendencie s to characterize migration as a problem and threat to social cohesion.
"Migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, regardless of their migration status, ar e entitled to have all their human rights protected by the state where they live without discrimination," Muigai said.
He urged states to ensure that, "migration policies are at all times consistent with international human rights instruments.
" Noting that no state is immune to extremist political parties, movements and gro ups, Muigai warned that racism might lead to genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleans i ng and crimes against humanity.
"Relying on the dehumanization of the other, hate speech may indeed become an ef fective tool in times of conflict to incite people to commit acts of violence, i n cluding killings, against specific individuals or groups of individuals.
" He called on UN member states to be vigilant against extremist groups, stressing "countering extremist political parties, movements and groups requires a solid l egal framework.
"As such, states must ensure that their legislation fully incorporates the provi sions of article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all For m s of Racial Discrimination.
"The article requires states to condemn and outlaw organizations and activities that promote or incite racial discrimination,'' the rapporteur stated.
He noted, however, that fighting racism requires more than the enactment of anti -discrimination laws, noting that "overcoming racism also requires addressing pu b lic and private attitudes, which justify and perpetuate racism at all levels and in all areas of life.
" Muigai further stressed the potential of sport as a means to combat racism and d iscrimination.