The House of the Lords in the United Kingdom has condemned Irish airline, Ryanair which forced South African passport holders to do a 15-question general knowledge quiz in Afrikaans before they could board their flights either to or from London.
The low cost airline faced a lot of backlash and criticism over the test which it said is an “additional safety assessment “. A number of South African passport holders were up in arms following this and some took to social media to express their frustration.
Rynair’s Afrikaans quiz has triggered accusations of racial discrimination, as Afrikaans is only the third most-spoken language in the country and was often forced on black South Africans during the apartheid era.
Ryanair said it had a responsibility to ensure that passengers are correctly documented for travel to their destination in terms of UK laws.
The low-cost airline said due to the recent increase in passengers attempting to travel on fraudulent South African passports, their handling agents may request passengers travelling on a South African passport, and who are flagged during procedural security profiling, to complete a simple questionnaire, as an additional safety assessment to confirm whether they are correctly documented before travel.
According to the Daily Mail, Baroness Chakrabarti, former director of Liberty and former Labour Shadow Attorney General said using Afrikaans to verify citizenship is as ignorant as it is insulting and discriminatory.
She reportedly asked the Government to ‘explore all potential regulatory options to persuade Ryanair to the cause of common sense and decency.’
Transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton also said it was not UK policy to demand a language test and agreed that Ryanair’s actions were ‘morally dubious and surely not appropriate’.
She reportedly said that the Government had been in touch with Ryanair but received no response, and that the Civil Aviation Authority had also been in contact with the airline to investigate the matter.