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Victim of racism says he will leave NI

Anti-racism campaigners say less victims of racism are reporting incidents.

A victim of racism has told UTV Live Tonight he is considering leaving Northern Ireland because of the campaign of intimidation he has suffered.

Thursday, 10 January 2013
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Originally from Egypt, the man who didn't want to be named, moved from London to Belfast two years ago for a better life with his family.

He said he became a victim of racial harassment and intimidation at his business, as a group of teenage boys verbally attacked him and threw eggs at the property.

"When I phoned the police, I have no response from the police, so I have to close my business early," he said.

"It makes me feel so bad because I am not here to waste my time and I have a family and I need money to feed my family.

"I have always been nice with people and I expect people to be nice back to me. I think, when they do this now, what are they going to do when they grow up?"

He said that his wife has also suffered racist intimidation. He said she was hit as she went into a shop and he believes she was targeted because she was wearing a hijab.

Now, he says that he will not stay in Northern Ireland because of his experiences of racism.

"I never expected a country in Europe to be like this, to be honest," he said. "I don't want my son to grow up here."

His account is revealed as a report due to be published on Friday has found black and minority ethnic people are trebly discriminated against by the system in the region, in terms of victimisation, criminalisation and employment.

The report by the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities has called for a plan to overhaul the criminal justice system, as happened in England following the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

While the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister has coordinated an ethnic monitoring framework across departments, the research demonstrated that there is still a lot to be learned from Macpherson, and from the Scottish model.

Patrick Yu, NICEM Executive Director

"Northern Ireland still lacks a 'blueprint' or plan to rid the criminal justice system of racism, like the Macpherson report in the wake of the murder of Stephen Lawrence provided for England and Wales," Patrick Yu, NICEM Executive Director explained.

"The importance of this is highlighted very clearly through the research, particularly when you look at Scotland, another devolved institution that was not bound by Macpherson, and yet took concrete steps to put the Macpherson learning into practice."

Recent reports show there were only 12 prosecutions out of almost 14,00 hate-related incidents over a period of five years .

One of NICEM's recommendations is to introduce the specific offence of racially aggravated crime.

Barbara Muldoon from the Anti-Racism Network said that legislation needs to overhauled.

"There's a definite difficulty with the legislation, it's ten years since we saw legislation being introduced with the criminal justice order 2004, where these sort of aggravated crimes, the hate elements, within crimes- we were told were going to be punished," she said.

"We have to ask a decade on, where are we?

"We're sick listening to introduction of policies and minority liaison officers, and a whole series of things which looks on the surface as if there is a will to do it," she continued.

"But the reality is that the people that we work with day in and day out who are subject to these types of crimes are telling us that often that the police fail to investigate them, where they do investigate them, they don't seem to take them seriously, and unfortunately less and less people are now willing to come forward to report them."