The Working group of UN Experts on People of African descent spent a week in Belgium and met with representatives of authorities, NGOs and civil societies.
The chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, Michale Balcerzak, said “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,” during his statement.
Professor Ahmed Reid, who is a member of this group, claimed that “there seems to be a wall of silence about colonization.”
“In order for there to be true reconciliation, for the process of decolonization to continue, we believe than an apology from the Belgian state would be a first step” he further added.
The expert group urged Belgian authorities for Belgium to apologize for its colonial past and the atrocities it has committed during that dark part of history. They stated: “The Working Group recommends repairing justice, with a view to closing the dark chapter in history and as a means of reconciliation and healing. We urge the government to issue an apology for the atrocities committed during colonization. ”
The Working Group further welcomed the inauguration of the Patrice Lumumba Square, “as well as an exhibit commemorating Congolese soldiers who fought in World War I, and encourage further, durable commemoration of contributions of people of African descent and the removal of markers of the colonial period.”