NEWS RELEASE: MORE THAN 100 AFRICAN ORGANISATIONS CALL ON THE AFRICAN COMMISSION TO HOLD SOUTH AFRICA TO TASK OVER XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS

Salc : Staff Writer

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and over 100 other civil society organisations (CSOs) throughout the African continent today called upon the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to intervene in relation to the xenophobic attacks taking place in the Republic of South Africa.

In an open letter addressed to the African Commission, the 129 CSOs raise concern about the about the loss of lives, injuries to persons, and damage to private property and the dignity of non-nationals living in South Africa. They call on the African Commission, as the body responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in the region, to condemn the violation of human rights in the country. They further request the Commission to call upon the South African government to take concrete steps to protect foreign nationals in the country; provide humanitarian assistance to those internally displaced due to the attacks; prosecute perpetrators of acts of violence; and publicly condemn unequivocally comments by persons in positions of authority and influence which may amount to incitement to violence.

“The rights to life and not to be tortured or treated in a cruel, inhuman or degrading manner are absolute rights which can never be compromised.” said Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director of SALC. “There can be no justification for violating these rights. The immigration status of foreign -nationals who are victims of the attacks in South Africa is therefore irrelevant.”

The open letter by the CSOs refers to statements by South African authorities and governments of other countries to assist those leaving the country. “While those who wish to leave should be assisted to do so, the solution to the violence should not be to repatriate all foreign nationals, but to ensure an environment in the country in which their rights are protected. Furthermore, the acts of those carrying out attacks against foreign nationals should not be rewarded by assisting them to achieve their objective of ridding South Africa of foreign-nationals.” The statement says.

The more than 100 African civil society organisations, united against xenophobia, include recommendations in their statement and request the African Commission to remind South Africa of the recommendations prepared by the South African Human Rights Commission following the xenophobic attacks in 2008. They ask the Commission to insist that South Africa implement these recommendations as a matter of urgency.

The letter concludes by calling on governments of other countries to ensure South African national in their territories are protected against reprisals.

SALC also sent a letter to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) calling on it to take a strong stance against the xenophobic attack.

To read the open letter to the African Commission click here

To read the letter to SADC click here

Read the open letter to the African Commission in Portuguese/Ler em Português

Further Info: Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, SALC Executive Director; +27 (0)10 596 8538 (o); kaajalr@salc.org.za

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre is a regional NGO based in Johannesburg which has been working towards strengthening human rights and promoting of the Rule of Law in Southern Africa since 2005. www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org

SALC 2005-2015:10 years of strengthening human rights in Southern Africa