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Story by Ben-Ackah-Mensah

Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality at the press conference

Africans living in the United Kingdom have been urged to utilize the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) to seek redress to racism or race related issues. 

The chair of the commission for racial equality, Trevor Phillips, stressed the importance for peoples of all races in the UK to equally take advantage of the services of his commission. He reiterated this call recently when he briefed journalists from ethnic minority communities on a race convention scheduled for November 27-28 in London, as part of the activities to mark the thirtieth anniversary of both the CRE and the Race Relations Act. Explaining some of the achievements of CRE over the past thirty years, he noted that Africans in particular have made very little use of the services provided by the commission either because they are unaware of the CRE or do not know they can access its help. He said, “A lot of people, especially in the African community, do not know they can get a redress to racial issues [from the CRE]. That is a worry! This is what people need to know about.” 

Trevor Phillips explained that it is the work of the commission to eliminate racial discrimination and promote equality of opportunities for all people of all races. CRE also work to encourage or improve relations between people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. 

It also monitors the way the Race Relations Act works and recommends ways in which it can be improved to benefit every one living in the country. 

In doing its work the Commission for Racial Equality is bound by law to consider all applications for assistance in cases of alleged discrimination. And this include discrimination against Africans as well as other people, whether black, white, Asian and all. The CRE can provide legal advice and assistance to people who think they have been genuinely discriminated against. 

The powers vested in the CRE under the Race Relations Act enable it to investigate companies or organisations where there is evidence of possible discrimination and require them to make changes to their policies and practices. Thus, Africans who have suffered racial discriminations – religious or otherwise -, harassment, abuse and violence at the work place, in homes, schools, hospital or even publicly can apply to seek redress through the CRE. 

As part of thirtieth anniversary celebrations a two-day convention has been organised to serve as a public platform on which issues of race and religion are discussed. 

Mr. Phillips said that in this country race is the number issue now and that there is the need to move it into reality. He explained, “It is the big issue now at the centre of public debate and that in order to keep the race agenda alive there should be conventions like this where people meet to openly discuss and challenge issues. 

The two-day conference which organisers claim is the first and biggest of its kind in Europe is dubbed Race Convention 2006 and will be a yearly showcase to publicly discuss race related issues. 

This year’s speakers are drawn from a selection of personalities from all races in politics, academia, business, trade unions, the arts and religion. 

The commission for Racial Equality was set up under the 1976 Race Relations Act. Although, it receives a grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government it works independently of the government. Its works covers all the areas where people are protected against discrimination under the Race Relations Act. 

The act applies in England, Wales and Scotland. For how to make complaints to the CRE or apply for a redress visit www.cre.gov.uk or call the London and South –East office line on 0207 939 0000.


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