The Department of Justice has released its National Action Plan (NAP) to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in South Africa.
The NAP has been developed through a comprehensive consultation process involving government, the Chapter Nine institutions and civil society, and is informed by general principles of universality, interdependence and indivisibility of human rights, participation and inclusion, progressive realisation, accountability, equality and non-discrimination, the department said.
As part of the report, the Department of Justice also announced a number of measures that it plans to introduce to combat these issues in the country – including a so-called ‘racism database’, which will track racism patterns in the country, what drives racism, and the perpetuation of racial discrimination by the mass media.
Some of these proposed measures are detailed below.
The Department of Justice plans to establish a baseline study to determine levels of racism, xenophobia, discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, racial incidents, inter-racial relations and perceptions of national identity.
As part of this process is will also consolidate reports on current laws, policies, programmes, needs and human and institutional resources necessary for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, homophobia and related intolerance.
This information will be fed into a virtual data repository from various sources with disaggregated statistical data to identify:
- Patterns of racism;
- Obstacles to the elimination of racism and discrimination that should be overcome, paying special attention to contemporary and emerging forms of racial discrimination;
- Access to justice for victims of racial discrimination;
- Knowledge about the prohibition of racial discrimination among the general population and among potential victims;
- The perpetuation of racial discrimination by the mass media (including television, radio, Internet, newspapers and magazines);
- The availability and accessibility of key human rights documents and other materials safeguarding equality and non-discrimination in national and local languages as well as in simplified form.
Rapid response mechanism
The Department of Justice also plans to establish a Rapid Response Mechanism to collate incidents of racist and xenophobic offences/hate crimes that are reported to the SAPS and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on the number of cases prosecuted, as well as on the reasons for non-prosecution and the outcome of cases prosecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority.
“This will include awareness campaigns that encourage and inform the public of reporting incidents of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerances to the relevant authorities,” the report states.
In addressing the topic of land, the Department of Justice plans to make the following changes in line with legislative frameworks and parliamentary processes:
- Engage in national dialogues on land;
- Develop a policy document which prioritises the redistribution of vacant, unused and under-utilised state land;
- Ensure effective programmes to increase training and support measures that will ensure the success of beneficiaries of land reform;
- Increasing security of tenure and enhancing security for farm dwellers.
Other measures which the Department of Justice plans to introduce include:
- An investigation into the nature, causes and manifestations of racism and discrimination in both public and private spheres;
- Implementing the national minimum wage and ensure its monitoring and enforcement by the Department of Labour;
- Developing a more effective programme to ensure access to, and ownership of, financial institutions by Black persons, youth and women;
- Advancing transformation in the tourism sector;
- Monitoring progress in the implementation of employment equity policies;
- Ensuring the development and infusion of anti-racism and equality promotion lessons in the early childhood development and school curriculum;
- Put mechanisms in place to ensure that nonnationals receive the services to which they are constitutionally entitled;
- Popularising national symbols and struggle icons;
- Making the National Schools Moot Court competition part of the curriculum.