‘Institutional racism’ in North
‘Institutional racism’ in North

Prominent human rights lawyer Imran Khan has said there is institutional culpability in the failure to deal with racism in the north of Ireland.

Mr Khan was speaking following a number of racist attacks in the North of the weekend.

Those who verbally abuse, firebomb and assault others must be arrested, prosecuted and sentenced, Mr Khan said.

I hope the warnings will be heeded. If not there will be blood on the hands of those in government in Northern Ireland, he said.

Mr Khan was attending the launch of a report The Next Stephen Lawrence? Racist Violence and Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland which described that the norths criminal justice system as being in a pre-Lawrence situation.

The outcry over the Stephen Lawrence case, in which the racist murder of a young black man in 1993 failed to be investigated by London police, led to reforms of systematic racism in the police and other stater institutions in England.

Human rights campaigner Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen, joined Mr Khan in Belfast for the launch.

The report from the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM), identified racism in the criminal justice system and asked how it should be addressed.

The report was written by Dr Robbie McVeigh and details the stories of 162 victims and survivors of racist violence across the North.

Racist violence has been growing at an escalating rate in the North in recent years, not just against blacks and Asians, but almost anyone considered an outsider. While most of the attacks have been connected with loyalists, incidents have also been reported in nationalist areas.

On Saturday a Latvian was taken to hospital with serious eye injuries after being attacked in a racially motivated assault in Lisburn, County Antrim.

On Sunday, an oil tanker outside the home of Polish people in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim

Two houses in Dunmurry, just outside Belfast where Lithuanians were staying, were attacked on Monday night, while a Lithuanian man was also assaulted in Castledawson, County Derry.

Dr McVeigh said: The scale of the violence is frightening enough but the failure of different elements in criminal justice to deal effectively with that violence is just as problematic.

It is, we believe, unambiguous evidence of institutional racism right across the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland.

Mr Khan said in the past victims of race crime would never go to a lawyer.

Now people expect justice from the law. But you also need a criminal justice system that is prepared to acknowledge and address institutional racism.

From the evidence of this report, you havent got that yet in Northern Ireland. I think the lessons of [the Lawrence Inquiry] should be implemented here in full, he said.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News