Non-Danish ethnicities ineligible for traineeships in companies

Concerning M. E (represented by counsel, Ms. Line Bøgsted) vs Denmark for violation of articles 2, 5 and 6.

The petitioner was a carpenter student at Copenhagen Technical School at the time of the events. As part of the study programme, students were offered the possibility of doing traineeships in private companies. On 8 September 2003, the petitioner accidentally saw a note in a teacher’s hands, where the words “not P” appeared next to the name of a potential employer applying for trainees to work in his company. When asked about the meaning of that note, the teacher explained to him that the P stood for “perkere” (“Pakis”) and that it meant that the employer in question had instructed the school not to send Pakistani or Turkish students for training in that company. The petitioner filed a written complaint with the school management board. He claims that, ever since his complaint was filed, he has been treated badly by school staff and students. He contends that the frustration experienced as a result of the discriminatory treatment received at the school led to his dropping the course and becoming depressive.

A civil claim was filed in the City Court of Copenhagen and then to the High Court of Eastern Denmark.The school argued that the complainant had not experienced reprisals as a consequence of his complaint, but that he simply was not qualified enough to be sent for training. The High Court decided that it had not been proved that the complainant had been subjected to discrimination or had experienced reprisals as a consequence of his complaint and confirmed the judgement of the City Court. Thus a complaint was sent to CERD.

The Committee observes that the uncontroversial fact that one of the teachers at the school admitted having accepted an employer’s application containing the note “not P” next to his name and knowing that this meant that students of non-Danish ethnic origin were not to be sent to that company for traineeship is in itself enough to ascertain the existence of discrimination towards all non-ethnic Danish students, including the petitioner. The school’s allegation that the rejection of the petitioner’s application for traineeship was based on his academic records does not exclude that he would have been denied the opportunity of training in that company in any case on the basis of his ethnic origin.  Indeed, irrespective of his academic records, his chances in applying for an internship were more limited than other students because of his ethnicity. This constitutes, in the Committee’s view, an act of racial discrimination and a violation of the petitioner’s right to enjoyment of his right to education and training

24. March 2020

CERD 40/2007
  • Decision: 8. August 2007
  • Comm: Race