Human rights body concerned that racism still a problem in SA
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has formally acknowledged receipt of a petition on racism from the African National Congress (ANC)‚ adding at the same time that it is deeply concerned that 20 years after democracy racism still remains a key issue for the country.
The human rights watchdog said on Friday that one of the leading human rights violations reported to the commission year-on-year were related to inequality‚ which accounted for about 10% of total complaints.
“The Commission is deeply concerned that 20 years after democracy‚ the Commission still receives complaints regarding discrimination on the basis of race. Whilst many efforts have been undertaken in law and policy as well as in the establishment of institutions such as Equality Courts‚ racism still remains a key issue for the country.
“In both 2012/2013 and 2013/14‚ violations related to equality constituted at least 10% of the total number of complaints received by the Commission. Based on our 2013/14 financial year‚ 53% of all equality-related complaints related to racial discrimination alone‚” the SAHRC said.
It noted that in January this year‚ the country had witnessed a heightened focus and debate on racism arising from social media remarks exchanged by individuals. On January 4 the commission released a statement to the public inviting those who felt that their rights had been violated to approach the SAHRC.
It undertook to investigate all cases received.
“Since then‚ the Commission has since over 200 racism-related complaints through all its provincial offices. This excludes other human rights related complaints that the Commission ordinarily receives through its offices located in all nine provinces across the country‚” the commission said. It added that the petition received from the ANC would be one of many complaints that the commission would be reviewing over the next few weeks.
“The outcome of this review will be the release of a set of recommendations for remedial action by government and all other social actors concerned with transforming the culture of our country into a non-racial society‚” the commission said.
It added that on March 14 and 15 March the Commission would be commemorating 20 years of its existence and had chosen to dedicate this important event to the theme of racism.
“This event will create a platform for engagement with government‚ the private sector and civil society to have a constructive dialogue on how to address the scourge of racism in the country. The conference seeks to emerge with a Declaration and Plan of Action for a societal response to this concern. This Declaration will be signed by all stakeholders and released to the public.
“The South African Human Rights Commission appreciates the receipt of this petition which the Commission will be considering as it continues to investigate this matter.”