REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE
STATEM ENT BY FODE M. DABOR
THE WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM., RACIAL DISCRIMINATION,
XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED INTOLERANCE
DURBAN - SOUTH AFRICA
31st AUGUST TO 7TH SEPTEMBER, 2001
Madam Chairperson, His
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, on behalf of the President, Government
and people of Sierra Leone, I would like to thank the Government of South Africa
for hosting this conference in this beautiful city of Durban. It is historic
that this conference is taking place in South Africa, a country, which for over
50 years suffered the worst form of racism and racial discrimination called
I would also like to thank
and congratulate the U.N. especially Mr. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General and
Mrs. Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their efforts
in organising and making this conference possible. I know it has not been easy
to organize a conference of this magnitude and nature, which has also been surrounded
by a lot of controversy. Thanks to God, a lot of countries despite their reservations
and differences on certain aspects of the conference have found it-fit to attend.
That is the sprit because this conference gives all of us the opportunity to
talk about this burning issue. We should no longer keep silent about this matter.
Racial discrimination is
a global phenomenon and therefore must be tackled by all of us by big, small,
poor or rich countries. Racial discrimination, xenophobia are serious breaches
of human rights and therefore it is incumbent on all delegates present here
today to come up with ideas as to how to eliminate this evil from all our societies.
We have to be flexible and responsible in our negotiations and not be confrontational.
Madam Chairperson, the Government and people of Sierra Leone, believe that no person shall be discriminated simply because of his colour, race, creed or religion or because he comes from a poor country. We are opposed to all forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia. It is morally wrong and inhuman. We also believe in the principle that all men are equal and must be treated equally.
We have an express provision
in our Constitution dealing with this problem. Chapter III of the 1991 Constitution
deals with the Recognition and Protection of theFundamental Human Rights and
Freedoms of the individual.
Section 27 (1) "Subject
to the provisions of subsection (4), (5) and (7), no law shall make any provision
which is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect."
Section 27 (2) "Subject
to the provisions of subsections (6), (7) and (8), no person shall be treated
in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any law or in the
performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority."
Section 27 (3) "In
this section the expression 'discrimination' means affording different treatment
to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions
by race, tribe, sex, place of origin, political opinions, colour or creed whereby
persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions
to which persons of another such description are not made subject, or are accorded
privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another description."
Every country I believe
has a legislation to deal with this problem but laws alone will not be enough
unless they are complemented by change of attitudes in our various societies.
Asylum seekers, immigrants,
refugees, etc. should not be seen as coming from an evil planet and as job grabbers.
Rather society has to be tolerant and see them as people who are running away
from poverty, hunger civil wars and are only seeking better life and protection.
They have a right not to be killed or be subjected to inhuman treatment. This
is impermissible and we must do everything to discourage such antisocial behaviours.
Racial discrimination is
becoming more and more subtle. In some cases it is very difficult to detect.
It is found in educational institutions, work place, airports, in the grant
of social security facilities, immigration matters, employment etc. We must
develop more sophisticated methods to detect these types of discrimination.
Xenophobia is not only
prevalent in industrialized countries but also, here in Africa. As the economies
of the African countries worsen, we see the traditional African values of the
community, giving way to intolerance and violence. We see Africans accusing
Africans from other countries of stealing their jobs which misconception has
resulted at times in deaths and or serious injuries. What is the point of talking
about an African Union if we as Africans cannot tolerate each other?
The root cause of racial
discrimination today especially against blacks can be traced to the Atlantic
slave trade and colonialism. The slave trade dehumanised the Africans and made
them appear to be of a lesser creature. Africans were conditioned by the colonialists
to believe that their culture is inferior and that what ever is European is
the best. These perceptions still exist today.
They were made to work
on plantations without any reward and were forced to adopt alien names. African
human and natural resources were exploited by the slave traders and colonialists
to develop their countries. Therefore I make bold to say that Europe contributed
immensely to the present underdevelopment in Africa. The world must therefore
accept especially the beneficiaries of the slave trade and colonialism that
grave injustice was done to the African. If that is accepted, then an apology
should be forthcoming. We have to accept this historical fact so as not to make
the same mistake in the future. The perpetrators must show remorse by apologising.
There should be no running away from this issue.
My delegation supports
the call for reparation. We think it is fair and just. However we also believe
that we must be forward looking. We must not allow ourselves to be bogged down
with the question of reparation. Our main objective should be the eradication
of contemporary racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia from all our societies.
In conclusion, my delegation
would like to state that racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia are diseases
which must be fought with all the vigour at our disposal in thesame way as we
are now fighting the Aids pandemic. We must be prepared to have open multi-cultural
societies where every human being lives with respect and dignity, and accept
that it is evil to discriminate against a fellow human being. Our, societies
need to be more tolerant toward each other.
All States must introduce legislation making racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia and related intolerance criminal offences.
One of the causes of conflicts
in Africa today is due to tribalism and ethnicisrn. Some politicians use the
tribal card purely for their selfish end which at times has resulted in serious
consequences as the genocide in Rwanda. Madame President, we must stop the exploitation
of tribalism and ethnicism for political gains.
My delegation also believes
that the media has a great role to play in preventing or discouraging racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Western media should
stop painting a bad picture of Africa. They should be encouraged to report positive
things about Africa.
The international community
must intensify its effort to fight poverty because poverty is one of the causes
of contemporary racist attitudes.
My delegation is cognisant
of the fact that this conference will not end racism, racial discrimination
and xenophobia but it will lay a solid basis for combating them. We have to
establish a mechanism to follow up the deliberations of this conference.
Madam President, I thank