International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The diversity of today’s societies forces us to deal with an ever-widening and complex multicultural horizon, which opens up a huge range of opportunities, but also challenges. Given the natural tendency to live with those who are similar, it is necessary to combat the cultural and racial prejudice that generates distrust of the one who is different.

Celebrating today’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, it should be recognized that individual attitudes of denial and confrontation with each other based on prejudices and unfounded racial prejudices exist, and should not be forgotten. 

Over its decades of existence, the Ombudsman has not received complaints against the public administrations due to racial discrimination. If this were a systemic and deep problem of the Portuguese administration, possibly the Ombudsman would have indications, and it does not.

The recent results of the Second Survey on Migrants and Minorities conducted by the FRA – European Agency for Fundamental Rights, however, call for a frustratingly persistent reality. Seventeen years after the adoption of EU laws prohibiting discrimination, immigrants, immigrants’ descendants and ethnic minority groups continue to be discriminated against. Nearly one-third of respondents in this study answered that in the last five years they have been discriminated against because of their ethnic background when seeking work.

The results obtained in Portugal are somewhat paradoxical: in comparison to other European states, it is in our country that Afro-descendants feel less discriminated against, but it is also in our country where the Roma community feels the most discrimination, especially women.

It is therefore appropriate to mark this event, instituted by the United Nations Organization in 1969, in memory of the Sharpeville Massacre, held in Johannesburg on March 21, 1960, calling for tolerance and openness of all individuals and public authorities, demonstrating our discontent and solidarity for those who are still victims of racism these days.