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Racist Slurs Written in Graffiti inside World Bank Offices

June 12, 2009
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GAP Report Detailing Bank Discrimination against Black Employees Released Earlier This Week

(Washington, D.C) – The Government Accountability Project (GAP) has learned from inside sources that over the past two weeks, on at least two occasions, malicious racial slurs directed at black staff were painted on the hallway walls of the World Bank’s Legal Affairs Offices on the 6th floor of the main complex. The messages, written in English as graffiti, are commonly interpreted as ‘hate speech’ in the United States that is intended to frighten and demoralize people of black African heritage.

One of the messages read (GAP has x-ed out the offensive language): “Nxxxxx Go Home.”

“This kind of intimidation is reminiscent of the cross burnings by the KKK in the US,” said Bea Edwards, GAP International Program Director. “It is intended to terrify people and show them that the institution either will not or cannot protect them.”

Although the first incident occurred over one week ago, and concerns were raised with senior Bank management, no official announcement was made, either Bank-wide or externally, condemning the action and explaining what steps will be taken to prevent a recurrence. The silence of the Bank’s senior management about such visible and offensive racist graffiti is seen as evidence that the much-touted ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on racial discrimination lacks commitment and enforcement.

The racist slurs, according to sources, were posted overnight and Bank management had them removed by the following morning.

Two days ago, GAP released a report based on the Bank’s internal analyses, on interviews with staff members, and on 12 years of judicial decisions handed down in discrimination cases by the Bank’s internal court, showing that racial bias has systematically distorted recruitment and promotion practices for decades. The paper shows that staff members of black African descent are under-represented in the professional grade levels at the Bank and that those few who bring formal complaints about hostile treatment to the Administrative Tribunal do not receive relief.

“The World Bank says that it takes charges of racial discrimination very seriously,” said Edwards. “Unfortunately, it does not take action."

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

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