UN Experts Urge Belgium To Recognize Colonial-Era Crimes To Tackle Racism
UN human rights experts on Monday called on Belgium to recognize the scope of the crimes the country committed in the colonial era in order to tackle present-day racism in Belgian society
"The [Belgian] Government should review and ensure that textbooks and educational materials accurately reflect historical facts as they relate to past tragedies and atrocities committed during the colonial era," Chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent Michal Balcerzak said after a group of experts visited Belgium.
He pointed out that a comprehensive action plan to fight racism in Belgium should be adopted by the country's authorities.
"The Government of Belgium needs to adopt a comprehensive national action plan against racism ... We found clear evidence that racial discrimination is endemic in institutions in Belgium. People of African descent face discrimination in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including diversion from mainstream education into vocational schooling, 'downgrading' in employment opportunities and discrimination in the housing market," Balcerzak said.
The working group will present a report on its visit to Belgium, which took place on February 4-11 in the cities of Brussels, Antwerp, Liege, Namur and Charleroi, to the UN Human Rights Council in September.
The Belgian colonial empire included the territories of present-day Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. The Belgian rule in these areas resulted in significant reductions of local populations caused by mass violence, starvation and spread of diseases.