racial discrimination
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In this article, Ruchika Daga discusses how to file Racial Discrimination complaints if you are an Indian living abroad.

Who is an NRI?

A Non Resident Indian (NRI) is an Indian citizen or Foreign National whose origin is Indian but his/her residence is outside India for purposes of employment, carrying on business or training purposes or any as would indicate an intention to stay outside India for a period which is not certain as per India’s Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA). An individual will also be considered as NRI if his/her stay in India is less than 182 days during the preceding financial year.

What is Racial Discrimination?

Racial discrimination is a belief of superiority of one race over another, which often gives rise to discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity. Today, in the dynamic society the term “racism” does not easily fall under a single definition. Racial discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably, or not given the equal opportunities, as others in a similar situation, because of their race, the country where they were born, their ethnic origin or their skin colour.

  • The racially offensive material on the internet, including e-forums, blogs, social networking sites and video sharing sites.
  • The racially offensive comments or images in a newspaper, magazine or other publication such as a leaflet or flyer.
  • The racially offensive speeches at a public rally.
  • The racially abusive comments in a public place, such as a shop, workplace, park, on public transport or at school.
  • The racially abusive comments at sporting events by players, spectators, coaches or officials.

Provisions of Human Rights Treaties

Human right Treaty is an agreement between two or more states made to protect the interest of the community in every state. A person can complain about the human right violation and claim for his/her right in an international arena is the main aim of human rights treaties. There are three major procedures For bringing complaints of violations of the human rights treaties

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

CERD is the body of experts who monitor the implementation of the. All States parties are under obligation to submit reports to the Committee at regular intervals on how the rights are going to be or are implemented. States must report initially one year after giving assent to the Convention and then every two years. The Committee scrutinizes or examine each and every report and addresses its concerns and give recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.

CERD considers various individual petitions alleging the violation of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination by state parties who have made the necessary declaration under article 14 of the Convention.

Who can file a complaint?

Anyone can file a complaint with a Committee against a State:

  • If he/she is party to the treaty in question providing for the rights which have allegedly been violated.
  • Complaints can also be lodged by third parties on behalf of individuals, provided they have given their written consent. In some cases, a third party may bring a case without any consent of the person whose right has been violated, for example, where a person is in jail and does not have access to the outside world or is a victim of an enforced disappearance. In such cases, the complainant should clearly state why such consent cannot be provided.

Procedure for filing a complaint against racial discrimination

There are different procedures and laws in every country to protect the human rights violation. Racial discrimination on Indians living in abroad is very common in most of the countries but every country has there own way to tackle the issue and have a different process to complain about the same.

How should an Indian living in Australia file a complaint against Racial Discrimination

You may want to deal with the situation yourself by raising it directly with the person or people involved. And If contacting directly does not resolve the situation, or you do not feel comfortable directly contacting, you can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission. One can also take help of a solicitor, advocate or trade union to make a complaint on one’s behalf.

It is free of cost anything to make a complaint to the Commission. The complaint needs to be lodged in writing. There is a complaint form available that you can fill in and post or fax to the commission or you can lodge a complaint online at the website itself. If you are not able to put your complaint in writing, the commission can help you with that.

Criteria set for a valid complaint is that it must be reasonably arguable that the events you want to complain about are unlawful discrimination and you must provide sufficient details about your allegations which will include what happened, when and where it happened and who was involved in it. A complaint can be made in any language. If you need a translator or interpreter, the Commission can also arrange that for the complainant. Any course of action is likely to be complicated and may involve court action.

The Racial Discrimination Act, 1975 (RDA)

Racial Discrimination Act is a law passed by the Whitlam government in 1975 to make sure everyone in Australia was treated equally and given the equal opportunities – irrespective of their background. This act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his or her race, colour, national origin or ethnic origin, or immigrant status.

The RDA protects people from racial discrimination in many areas of public life, which includes employment, education, renting or buying a house or unit, and accessing public places. The RDA also makes racial hatred unlawful.

What happens after a complaint has been filed?

When the Human Rights Commission receives a complaint about something that is covered by the Racial Discrimination Act, the President of the Commission can investigate and inquire about the complaint filed and try to solve the problem or violation by conciliation.

The Commission is different from a court as it does not have a right to determine that discrimination has happened or not. The Commission’s role is to hear both sides of the story and help those involved in the issue to resolve the complaint. The staff of the Commission may contact you to get further and detailed information about the complaint filed.

Generally, the Commission will inform the person or organisation the complaint is against (the respondent) about the complaint and give them a copy sheet of the complaint. The Commission may ask the respondent for specific information or a detailed response to your complaint.

Wherever possible, the Commission will invite you to participate or might involve you in the conciliation process. Conciliation is an informal process that allows you and the respondent to talk and discuss the issues and try to find different ways to resolve the complaint.

If the complaint is not resolved by the commision or is discontinued for some other reason, you can file your complaint with the Federal Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court.

The offence of racial discrimination is punishable by a term of imprisonment along with fine.

How to prove racial discrimination in the United States

In the United States, racial discrimination is very common in workplaces. It is considered illegal to discriminate in employment practices on the basis of race. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) is a statute that outlaws discriminatory practices. If you think you are being discriminated against on the basis of race during recruiting, hiring, or promotion, you can take certain actions to prove your case.

  • Starting by identifying the boundaries of racial discrimination.
  • Then gathering pieces of evidence by determining what to look for, by contacting witnesses, collecting necessary documents.
  • By filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which can be done in person or by email.
  • And finally going to the court, filing a lawsuit, by offering direct evidence, and by making the case prima facie.

Civil Rights Act, 1957

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first federal civil rights legislation passed by the United States Congress since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The aim of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was to show the support of federal government for racial equality following the Supreme Court’s 1954 judgement of Brown. Opposition to the legislation, including the longest one-person filibuster in history, resulted in limited immediate impact, but the Act paved the way for a series of more effective civil rights bills in the 1960s.

How to file a complaint?

Civil rights department enforces civil rights laws in US in different contexts.

Housing Discrimination

People who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination may file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] or file their own lawsuit in federal or state court. You must file the complaint with HUD within one year of the incident you believe to be housing discrimination. The time period specified under the civil rights laws is two years to file your own lawsuit in federal court.

Credit Discrimination

Individuals who believe that they have been the victims of housing discrimination regarding credit, such as the denial of a mortgage, may file a complaint with HUD. Individual complaints of discrimination in credit that are not housing-related are handled by the agencies who regulate the individual creditor.

Discrimination in Public Accommodation

Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination in public accommodations, such as a restaurant or hotel, may contact the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. You may file your own lawsuit in federal court or state court and may have some rights under other federal laws, state laws, or local ordinance. You should consult with your local or state civil rights enforcement agency.

Discrimination in Religious Land Use

Individuals or entities who believe that they have been victims of discrimination against religious assemblies and institutions may contact the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. Individuals may also file a lawsuit in federal court.

Racial discrimination in the UK

The Race Relations Act, 1965

The Race Relation Act,1965 was the first law in the United Kingdom to keep a check on racial discrimination. The Act makes discrimination illegal on the “grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins” in public places. It also prompted the formulation of The Race Relations Board (in 1966), to consider complaints under the Act. Between 1965 and 1968, a number of groups (and the Board itself) mounted another organized campaign to extend and strengthen the anti-discrimination provisions.

Race Relations Board

The main purpose of this board was to assess and resolve individual cases of racial discrimination. Committees were set up across England, Wales and Scotland to receive and investigate complaints. The Board only had the power to conciliate in complaints made under sections of the Act relating to discrimination in places of public resort and regarding disposal of tenancies. This report found that most of the complaints made to committees had taken place in public houses and that often resolutions were found when they had satisfactory assurance against any future racial discrimination from the respondent. The Board’s duties continued and expanded in 1968, in accordance with a new Race Relations Act.  

How to file a complaint against racism in Canada

Canadian Human Rights Act, 1977

Canadian Human rights act is an act passed by the parliament of Canada which aims at ensuring giving equal opportunities to the victims of discrimination on the basis of their race, caste, sex, age, disability and religious belief. Human Rights Commission was established under this act.

Complaint to enquire into the claims for discrimination. Before a case can be brought to the Canadian tribunal it has to go through several stages of investigation by the commission. After the completion of the process if the parties are not satisfied they can move to the tribunal to settle the case.

Canadian human rights commision

Any person or group having reasonable grounds for believing that a person is engaging or has engaged in a discriminatory practice may file with the Commission a complaint in a form acceptable to the Commission.

Filing a complaint

Step 1: The complaint should be filed within one year of the act or treatment. Though the Commission does make exceptions.

Step 2: Fee is not required to file a complaint under the commission also one can file the case on behalf of others with their consent.

Step 3: The commission will contact the complainant within twenty days of receiving the complaint. If your complaint is accepted by the commission it will send a notice to the respondent about the same.

Step 4: If there is any kind of query regarding the complaint one may contact the commission at.

Step 5: One has to fill the complaint form for lodging a complaint under the commission in the end of the form one will be asked to give the authority to the Commission to collect your personal information. The Commission will make sure that the information is protected under the Privacy Act.


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  1. Dear Sir,

    Mrs. Prerna Deshmukh from Melbourne, Australia is involved in a act of Child abuse.
    My daughter – Advika (04yrs & 06 months old) was burned with Steel Tongs (Used for preparation of food) by my wife, Mona Sagne under advice by Prerna Deshmukh (Mona’s elder sister). This act took place at my residence in Navi Mumbai, India.
    This incidence took place in October III week of 2016 in day time (13:15 Hrs IST).

    I even contact her husband, Mr. Hemant Deshmukh ( +61 418208701) and he accepted this crime but could not take any action against her wife as he was afraid of losing australian citizenship.
    You can verify her tele contact communications to India. Intention of the act was to terrorize small child.

    I also contacted Mr. Michael Strongman / Senior Constable 29960, Victoria Police and shared all details with reference to the incidence. However, i did not get justice.

    Subsequently, on 02-Apr-17 (Sun) @ 10:42 IST, I had received a phone call from Mr. Janardan Wakade (+91 8108808767), father of Mrs. Prerna Deshmukh threatening me to withdraw complaint against his daughter (Prerna). He has specifically warned me of dire consequences.
    I have also approached “Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse” in Australia and they have responded that the matter of Prerna Deshmukh would be handled by Victoria Police.

    Again on 07-June-17, Mona Sagne fircibly put 100gms salt in my daughters mouth for creating discipline in my 05 years kid.
    Post this incidence, prerna called from australia to confirm the act.

    Request you to kindly cancel the citizenship of Prerna Deshmukh and deport her to India for further police investigation.
    She is not only shame for a Indian origin but also a threat to Australian country.

    Please help me, this is a fight for my minor daughter. I want justice.


    Abhishek Sagne
    +91 9930205208
    Navi Mumbai, India