UN Rights Chief to States: Target Hate Speech and Hate Crimes

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Pierre Albouy
High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Pierre Albouy

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an annual reminder to us all to do more to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, hate speech, and hate crimes, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today.

But 21 March needs to be more than a reminder, he said, adding that people of African descent continue to be victims of racist hate crimes and racism in all areas of life. Anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head from the US to Europe to the Middle East and beyond.

According to Zeid, muslim women wearing headscarves face increasing verbal, and even physical, abuse in a number of countries. In Latin America, indigenous peoples continue to endure stigmatization, including in the media.

The dangers of demonising particular groups are evident across the world. Xenophobic riots and violence targeting immigrants have recently flared again in South Africa.

In South Sudan, polarised ethnic identities – stoked by hate speech – have brought the country to the brink of all-out ethnic war. In Myanmar, according to Zeid, the Rohingya Muslim community, long denigrated as “illegal immigrants,” have suffered appalling violations.

The UN has launched several initiatives to fight racism and xenophobia, including “Together which promotes respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants,Let’s Fight Racism” and the International Decade for People of African Descent.

The UN Human Rights Office, is asking people around the world including various governments to”Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today”. And, around the world, that is exactly what many people are doing. Taking a stand against discrimination, no matter where it happens, Zeid informed.

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Rakesh Raman