African agencies call for action against xenophobic violence
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 South Africa.
In an open letter to the African Commission‚ the 129 CSOs raise concern about the loss of lives‚ injuries 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 affected by the attacks; prosecute the 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‚ inhumane 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 letter refers to statements by South African authorities and government 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 letter said.
The organisations 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 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 nationals 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.