Seeing black and right

Despite the launch of an action plan against racism, the Equality Commission this year got €20,000 less funds from the government. CAROLINE MUSCAT on why Malta’s anti-racism efforts are just destined to fail.

Omar is still trying to figure out why he ended up on the street wearing only a pair of boxer shorts and a vest, with his mouth bleeding and unable to walk properly because of a swollen left leg.

He was not at a bar, drunk and causing trouble. He was sitting peacefully inside his home on a Sunday afternoon last month before his landlord arrived at his apartment in Zabbar and demanded money.

The landlord became consumed by a fit of rage after Omar refused to pay the amount of money demanded for water and electricity consumption without first seeing the bill. 

“I only asked to see the bill. He started shouting and went into the bathroom and the bedroom, throwing things around. Then he called someone downstairs who came running,” Omar says.

The two men pushed Omar towards the door. He was repeatedly punched in the face and then pushed down a flight of stairs. His left leg got twisted beneath him and started to swell.

His Maltese girlfriend and her brother, also in the apartment, were left untouched. Omar has been living in Malta for five years, but his skin colour is still an invitation for abuse and harassment.

He is not an exception.

Malta features as one of the ‘top ten’ Member States experiencing the highest levels of racial discrimination, according to the EU Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) published last year.

The same report shows racist violence is quite common in Malta and a serious threat to Africans in the country, where the majority have experienced verbal or physical harassment ranging from avoidance or sniggering, to serious mutilation and even death.

Omar is one of the few who dared file a report based on his medical certificate with the police and the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE). 

“I just want justice,” he says.  It was also fear that drove him to file the reports. “If I had hurt him, I would definitely be in jail”.

Does he feel the system works against him? “Yes, in terms of racism.”

Racial violence is a real cause for concern, but official statistics tell a different story. The NCPE received a total of only three complaints on racial discrimination last year.

The EU-MIDIS report shows that over half the racially motivated incidents of physical assault were not reported to the police. The major reason is a lack of confidence in law enforcement authorities.            

The same report ranks Malta as the Member State with the highest number of occurrences where police show disrespect in encounters with Africans.

Police recruits receive a one-hour session on racial equality as part of their training. This is deemed too short to have any positive long-term results, says the European Network Against Racism.

Malta has the lowest public support in the EU for monitoring procedures that minimise racial discrimination, even though the majority believes it is increasing. Those working against racial discrimination are therefore struggling against all odds.

Katrine Camilleri, Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), says her biggest concern is that, “racism is not identified, it’s not called by its name, it’s not addressed at practically any level, and maybe this is why so many people experience acts varying from disparaging comments to outright hostility, or even violence”.

In her experience, very often people complain that when they do approach institutions for support against abuse suffered they feel they are not taken seriously or they find the remedies ineffective.

“They don’t see any results. On the one hand, that puts people off reporting and, on the other hand, if there’s no accountability it creates a sense that everything is permissible,” she says.

The state of affairs is typical of other problems in the country where laws are enacted but implementation is poor. In this case, Malta has brought national legislation in line with the Racial Equality Directive and criminal law provisions relating to racism were amended. Yet, despite the high incidence of racial violence, only four people have been charged in court for racist crimes in 10 years. Only one person was found guilty of racial hatred.

Neil Falzon, Director of human rights NGO Aditus, says the legal remedies available are ineffective. As a human rights lawyer, he emphasises the difficulty of convincing those whose rights have been violated to seek redress in a system that is failing to deliver justice:

“The list of infringements of the Racial Equality Directive that we can come up with is huge. We do our best to advocate but you need someone who really wants to take a case to court and be willing to wait years until a judgment is given. How effective can a judgment be when the violation occurred five years ago?”

Social Policy Minister Dolores Christina states in the NCPE’s annual report that “equal opportunities are a cornerstone of government’s policy”. In her two-page statement, only one paragraph towards the end is dedicated to racial equality where she says, “more needs to be done to increase awareness to achieve our goal of a more inclusive and tolerant society”.

To that end, the National Action Plan against Racism and Xenophobia (NAPARX) was launched last year. It is an ambitious plan with a three-year deadline, but progress is limited so far as the NCPE is “considering” the initiatives outlined.

As a government-funded Equality Body, the NCPE has vast responsibilities that include research, reporting, raising awareness, training, and investigating complaints on the myriad forms that discrimination can take in relation to gender and race.

The budget allocated by government last year for NCPE operations was just over €281,000 - less than the annual expenditure of even small local NGOs. Despite the launch of NAPARX, the estimated budget for the NCPE this year is €20,000 less than last year.

European Commission funds support the implementation of anti-discrimination projects such as ‘Think Equal’, which launched a study to identify the nature and extent of racial discrimination and the flaws in existing policies and structures. The findings will still require a comprehensive approach to implement changes.

It is a massive challenge. In the present scenario, where racism is increasing, where the authorities are not sufficiently empowered to address it, where legal remedies are ineffective, and where political rhetoric is not backed by adequate funds, NAPARX seems destined to fail.

That may not be such a big deal in political terms since action against racial discrimination and violence does not enjoy public support. There is widespread belief that if the ‘blacks’ do not like it, they should leave. .

It is a contagious attitude that is increasingly manifesting itself in violence and abuse against individuals for no other reason that the colour of their skin. This is happening in a country that boasts of the hospitality, friendliness and generosity of its people.

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Everybody says there is this race problem. Everybody says this race problem will be solved when the third world pours into every white country and only into White countries. The Netherlands and Belgium are more crowded than Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this race problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and “assimilating” with them. Everybody says the final solution to this race problem is for every White country and only White countries to "assimilate," i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites. What if I said there was this race problem and this race problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into every Black country and only into Black countries? How long would it take anyone to realize I'm not talking about a race problem. I am talking about the final solution to the Black problem? And how long would it take any sane Black man to notice this and what kind of psycho Black man wouldn't object to this? But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the White race, liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews. They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white. Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.
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Why is racism increasing? Aren't these people well educated and highly skilled labor who are bound to enrich our society? If this resource is so precious then why aren't these people sought for in Europe? . I condemn every action of violence but lets face the facts. Unlike what certain NGOs say, these people are not needed in our country, they have no future here and keeping them here is pure cruelty. We should allow them to go were they want while financing initiatives IN AFRICA to create jobs THERE (and not to some fat cat in Europe). That's the way forward