Civil Society Organisations petition AU over xenophobia
Some civil society organisations have urged the African Union to pressure South African government to ensure that concrete steps are taken to prosecute perpetrators of xenophobia attacks.
The call is contained in a letter which is to be submitted to the African Commission as member states celebrate the annual commemoration of the 1963 founding African Day that falls on May 25.
According to executive director for Institute for Policy Interaction, Rafiq Hajat who is part of the grouping said the petition is from several civil society organisations.
“We, the undersigned organisations, request the African Commission to call upon the government of South Africa to: bring perpetrators of violence against non South African nationals to justice and to facilitate such prosecutions the Department of Justice should set up special courts, as was done during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, to deal with all cases of violence against non-nationals in a bid to ease the burden on the courts,” reads the petition in part.
In addition, the organisations urged the AU to call upon governments of other countries to prevent reprisals against South African nationals in their territories.
The organisations are particularly concerned about the loss of lives, injuries to persons, and damage to private property and the dignity of immigrants, which are a grave violation of their rights protected under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“The right to life, not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and the right to strict equality before the law are not dependent on a person’s status in a country. The status of non-nationals who are victims of the attacks in South Africa is therefore irrelevant,” reads the petition.
The organisations have also called upon the South African government to immediately implement the report findings of the 2008 xenophobia attacks which left 62 dead, 100,000 displaced and hundreds wounded.
Hajat said the barbaric attacks on helpless people seeking a better living in South Africa, is contrary to the spirit of African integration and what the African Union stands for.
The process is coordinated by Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) which operates in Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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