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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

South African Human Rights Commission say social media makes fighting racism complicated

15 February 2017

If you spend any amount of time on social media, chances are you’ve seen somebody being racist.

Sometimes it’s subtle, other times it’s blatant and the incidents blow up like it did for Penny Sparrow, Justin van Vuuren, Chris Hart, Velaphi Khumalo and Matthew Theunissen.
Whatever it is, we can all agree that social media sometimes brings out the worst in people.

The South African Human Rights Commission believes the increasing prominence of social media is making the fight against racism complicated.

Beginning on Wednesday, the Commission will host a two day National Investigative Hearing on racial discrimination. Policymakers, researchers and civil society organisations are expected to make submissions.

In a statement, the SAHRC said: “during the 2015/2016 financial year, the Commission received 505 race-related complaints. This is indicative of the fact that despite the significant achievements over the past 23 years of democracy, deep inequalities and unfair discrimination remain a serious concern.”

The commission stated, “[the commission] does not identify ‘social media’ as a specific category in classifying human rights complaints it receives; however, social media is increasingly being cited as a ‘location’ in which race-based equality complaints arise.

“Recent incidents on social media platforms thus illustrate the urgent need for intervention and leadership in confronting discrimination and issues related to the right to equality – and by extension, racism.”

The aim is to understand what constitutes racism as well as who should be held accountable and to what extent in the context of social media.

Source: The South African

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

Braampark Forum 3, 33 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein

011 877 3600 (Switchboard)

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