Malta — Anti-Racism Strategy (2021–2023)
The Government recently launched and began implementing the Anti-Racism Strategy 2021-2023, Malta’s first national action plan against racism and xenophobia. The Strategy was adopted by Cabinet on Wednesday 28 July 2021, launched publicly on Thursday 30 September 2021, and presented to stakeholders in a conference on Friday 15 October 2021. This comprehensive Strategy aims to confront and eliminate racism in all its forms, individual, systemic, and societal and to stimulate and support intercultural inclusion.
The document incorporates into its 22 measures invaluable ideas received during the 2020 public consultation, in which respondents gave suggestions on various issues such as research, law enforcement, education, employment and housing. These measures make anti-racism and anti-discrimination both individual and collective responsibilities across all sectors of society – Government and the public sector, democratic and political institutions, the media, but also the private sector, civil society, and the general population. Outreach and awareness-raising activities will take place throughout and across all levels of society, particularly the grassroots.
This Strategy is in line with the EU’s Anti-Racism Action Plan 2020-2025, and its first Progress Report will be issued by the Directorate in Q4 2022.
The Anti-Racism Strategy has two goals: confronting and eliminating racism in all its forms, individual, systemic and societal and stimulating and supporting intercultural inclusion.
It was built around four principles: equality, diversity, interaction and participation.
The approach of the Strategy is two-fold. On the one hand, the Anti-Racism Strategy endorses the intersectional approach to tackling discrimination, it embraces the diversity within minority groups and addresses the needs of those groups at intersections between different grounds for discrimination. On the other hand, it adopts a comprehensive and systematic approach to anti-racism and promoting intercultural inclusion, by involving a wide range of stakeholders across society, including Maltese residents themselves, and acting in all policy fields and areas.
The Strategy is divided in four objectives:
- Establish an infrastructure to drive and sustain commitment to and engagement with the goals and objectives of the Strategy.
- Achieve planned and systematic approaches to confronting racism and advancing intercultural inclusion across all policy fields and all sectors.
- Promote and advance informed public and political discourse characterised by the principles of intercultural inclusion.
- Tackle all forms of discrimination experienced by minority groups.
Infrastructure and Commitment
The measures found under Objective One institutionalise the approach to implementing the Anti-Racism Strategy:
Measure 2 supports the whole-of-Government approach by providing for the creation of a high-level Inter-Ministerial Committee including the equality body to ensure mainstreaming of anti-racism and intercultural inclusion across all policy fields and public services.
Measure 3 embodies the whole-of-society approach by creating the Anti-Racism Platform. The Platform is an infrastructure composed of representatives from minority groups, civil society organisations, international organisations, local councils, academics and social partners; it is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Strategy and formulating recommendations, when necessary, to ensure the objectives are reached.
Measure 4 provides for a research programme that will serve as a baseline study concerning the experience of members of minority groups with hate speech on the grounds of race and/or ethnicity in Malta. This baseline will enable evaluation of the progress made in the field in the years to come.
The Human Rights Directorate is responsible for annual reporting on the implementation of the Anti-Racism Strategy.
Confronting Racism and Advancing Intercultural Inclusion
Measures 6 to 12 aim at ensuring the mainstreaming of anti-racism and intercultural inclusion across all policy fields in the public sector but also in the private sector. Measure 6 entrusts each Ministry, supported by the equality body and HRD with the adoption of intra-ministerial anti-racism action plans to confront racism and achieve intercultural inclusion across the board. These plans are to include measures establishing a framework for dialogue and cooperation with civil society as well as providing for training of public officers. Measures 7 to 10 and 12 identify priority Ministries in this regard: MEDS, MSA, MFH, MFE and MHSE.
Measure 11, as part of the whole-of-society approach, plans for the adoption of a national anti-racism and intercultural pact among social partners. The Pact aims at defining institutional competence for anti-racism and intercultural inclusion in recruitment and employment in the private sector. Recruitment and employment in the public service and public sector are also key points in the whole-of-Government approach.
Public and Political Discourse
The Anti-Racism Strategy mentions three main forms of racism: individual, societal and structural. Whilst the latter is tackled by the measures for confronting racism and advancing intercultural inclusion, individual and societal racism must be tackled at grass-root level, with the collaboration of those who shape the public and political debate. These measures do not aim at eliminating disagreement, which characterises healthy democracy, but at ensuring that individuals and relevant stakeholders hold an informed discourse when speaking on sensitive topics.
Measures 13 to 15 address the use of racist language and negative stereotyping by the media and political parties. The aim is for each category of actors to adopt a pact to reach a zero-tolerance policy towards racist language and negative stereotyping, as well as to receive training on the matter.
Measures 16 and 17 aim at tackling individual racism more specifically through a nation-wide awareness-raising campaign promoting anti-racism and intercultural inclusion (measure 17) but also through the development of a national Anti-Rumour Strategy, a first in Europe! This strategy will identify rumours common in Malta, how they form and spread, before training anti-rumour agents to prevent them from spreading further among society.
The last objective of the Anti-Racism Strategy contains measures tackling specific forms of discrimination, but also measures that aim at improving reporting and processing of incidents of discrimination.
Measure 19 addresses housing discrimination through raising awareness of their rights and obligations among tenants, whilst measure 21 deals with illegal online hate speech, with the aim to adopt a code of conduct to guide volunteer IT platforms in review and remove content when necessary.
Measures 18, 20 and 22 respectively address reporting of cases of discrimination, collection and processing of data related to them in order to improve the State’s response to these cases, and enhanced regard for anti-racism and intercultural inclusion in policymaking with a view to prevent further structural racism.