At the United Nations Regional Meeting on the International Decade for People of African Descent today and tomorrow, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) calls on European Union Member States to finally take action to combat Afrophobia – the specific racism people of African descent face – in their respective countries.
There are an estimated 15 million people of African descent and Black Europeans in Europe and they are particularly affected by racism and discrimination in employment, education, housing, and other areas. In the United Kingdom, applicants with an African sounding surname need to send twice as many job applications as those with a White British sounding name to get an interview. Black people are also particularly exposed to racist violence, as well as discriminatory policing and ethnic profiling. In Sweden, 17% of hate crimes targeted Black people in 2014 (1,075 in total). In Paris, France, people perceived as ‘Black’ were overall six times more likely to be stopped by police than White people.
In addition, 2017 has seen numerous cases of police violence against Black people. Rashan Charles died in July after being restrained by the police in the UK. In February, Theo Luhaka endured a violent arrest including sexual abuse at the hands of the police in France. In Germany, new evidence has emerged in the case of Oury Jalloh, a man who burned alive in custody in January 2005, contradicting police accounts that he set himself on fire in the police cell. For all of these cases the authorities placed the blame on the victims, who have still not seen justice.
EU migration policies are also having consequences on people of African descent. The European Union agreement with Libya is for instance resulting in trapping migrants in asylum processing centres in Libya, despite knowledge of the ongoing enslavement and torture of Black people in Libya.
Despite these persistent levels of Afrophobia, European Union Member States are failing to recognise and address this specific form of racism. Three years since the launch of the Decade in 2015, only a handful of EU countries have taken measures to ensure full participation and equal rights for people of African descent or marked the Decade in any way.
ENAR is calling EU Member States to adopt national action plans against racism which include specific measures to combat Afrophobia. These should include effective policies to address racist violence and structural racism experienced by people of African descent in all areas of public life; as well as the collection of equality data on race and ethnicity based on self-identification.
ENAR Chair Amel Yacef said: “Given the scale of racism and discrimination faced by Black people in Europe, it is shocking that so little has been done so far to end this situation. As United Nations members, EU Member States have committed to ensuring Black people enjoy rights to equal treatment and non-discrimination. We are still waiting to see that commitment materialise into concrete action before the end of the Decade in 2024.”