Monthly Archives: March 2021

Comments Off on Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) Calls South Africa to end the killings of individuals and citizens participating in assemblies and ensure realisation of their right to life, through enabling environment as constitutionally guaranteed

The Right to Freedom of Assembly, Demonstration, Picket and Petition is a public participatory mechanism, guaranteed in Section 17 of South Africa’s Constitution. HURISA is outraged by the inconsistent management of law and order by Public Order Policing within the South African Police Services (SAPS), particularly, in dispersing protesters in gatherings.  The random firing of stunt grenades to people in protests is not a new phenomenon in South Africa. It persistent in the past and even in a democratic dispensational environment.

Before 1994 demonstrations were prohibited in South Africa. While Regulations of Gathering Act passed in 1993 is the first legislative regime to recognise the people’s right to expression of frustrations, through gatherings. However, the Act contain certain provisions that restrict number of people participating in a gathering to 15. It also requires advance notification of a gathering less than 15 and to obtain authorisation for a gathering intending to have more than 15 participants. The RGA has brought little change to the aspired freedom enabling citizens to express their frustration and demand change through government attention to their pressing needs. Most peaceful protests in South Africa often turn violent mainly to among others, POP enforcement of restrictive legislative provisions. However, HURISA has noted double standards in managing certain political protests convened for big crowds that POP seem to manage well without undue violence or protesters being forced to disperse. This is witnessed even during this difficult era of the pandemic, where health protocols are blatantly breached. Understandably, convenors of these kind of protests notify municipalities in advance.

HURISA is perplexed by this inconsistence and see history in repetition where, gatherings, assemblies, protests were prohibited during the dark apartheid era. This unequal and discriminatory practice resulted terribly with the Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960, left over 68 people murdered and 189 injured across the country.

As we observe the 61st Anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre a review of impact of Human Rights Month observed over 27 years and how to deliver the suppressed rights during the past laws. How do we justify respect of human rights in commemoration of Human Rights Month, when foundation of our democracy is constantly undermined, especially in the unfair treatment of the poor and historically marginalised with impunity?

South Africa is a State Party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which observe its 40th Anniversary of adoption on 28 June 2021. South Africa has also contributed immensely towards adoption and entry into force of the African Union Charter on Elections, Democracy and Governance, which promotes consolidation of democracy, human rights, and public participation. The African Charter safeguard the people’s right to freedom of assembly under Article 11. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in 2017, encouraging Member States to develop progressive legislative frameworks aligned to promotion and protection of right to assembly.

HURISA is calling the Government to review restrictive provisions contained in the RGA as handed by the progressive Constitutional Court Judgement in 2018 and do the following:

  • Protect the individual and citizens right to life in the country, by ending the brutal killings of individual and citizens, ensuring their attainment of the right to freedom of assembly, the right to picket and present petitions through development of progressive legislative framework founded on human rights-based approaches, harmonising the constitutional dispensation and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly.
  • Compliance with the AU Charter on Elections, Democracy and Government, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights by ensuring creation of enabling environment for public participation, freedom of expression and assembly without fear of reprisals.
  • Utilise the Human Rights Month to honour the sacrifices of our heroes and herons for their bravery in fighting against brutal regime that constantly fired guns to most of the people protesting against impunity and human rights violations.
  • Sensitise law enforcement, including SAPS, POP, Municipal Police from local provincial to national level and stakeholders involved in public order management with national, regional, and international human rights mechanisms promoting freedom of assembly.
  • Promote education and safeguarded right to life as non derogable in the Constitution and create enabling environment for individuals and citizen participation in democracy, decision making processes without fear of reprisals, arbitrary arrests, extra judicial killings for demanding implementation of constitutional rights.
  • Ensure IPID and any other national institution investigating impunity, brutality and misconduct of officials conduct their constitutional and legislative mandate independently without fear, favour, and prejudice.
  • Arrest, prosecute the suspects of human rights violations of individuals and citizens exercising rights to freedom of assembly and ensure victims and survivors of these violations are adequately compensated from enduring these heinous atrocities.

 
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Category: Media statement

WE SAY NO TO XENOPHOBIA

Comments Off on WE SAY NO TO XENOPHOBIA

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) Condemns in the strongest term the Xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans manifested in sporadic assaults, looting and petrol bombing of their shops. It is disheartening that these horrific attacks coincide with the Human Rights Month that South Africa commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre that devastated the country on 21 March 1960. This massacre left over 69 people murdered and 180 wounded by lethal weapons police used to disperse a peaceful gathering against the repressive and discriminatory pass laws. It is also an important occasion to observe the 40th Anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which is the apex human rights mechanism promoting the people’s rights in Africa.

Xenophobic attacks, harassment, violence against fellow Africans is not a new phenomenon in South Africa and has become a routine with the aim of ousting African people from the country. Fellow Africans are blamed for economic insecurity, unemployment, crimes, spreading diseases and for government failures to deliver basic services. This has escalated in violence, looting, malicious damage to businesses and shops owned by refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers.

The first outbreak of xenophobic attacks that killed over 68 people and caused displacement of thousands of African fellows in May 2008, started in Alexander, and spread in other part of the province. This was also instigated by gangsters parading in the streets carrying guns, machetes, sjamboks, and bottles hunting, in townships to brutalize, burn, stone, rape, loot and kill fellow Africans with strong accent. The rioting was accompanied by protesters calling on foreigners to leave. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights adopted Resolution 131 condemning these attacks and the Commission sought to conduct a fact funding mission into the killings of migrants in South Africa.

After this incident thousands of foreigners returned to their homes, while others went to find refuge at police stations, churches, or community centres.  Since then, the Commission has been seized with South Africa xenophobic situation and condemned the attacks in Resolution 304 adopted in 2015. Subsequently, the Commission issued statements from 2018 and 2019 calling South Africa to comply with its regional and international obligations to protect the lives, rights and properties of refugees, migrants, asylum seekers in South Africa.  However, xenophobic aggression has erupted repeatedly and exacerbated by certain sentiments expressed by politicians promoting hatred for all foreigners to leave South Africa and go back to their countries. This often happen during election period as campaigning season for local government election unfolds and this is used to cover up failures in rendering basic service delivery in communities.

With COVID-19 that gripped the world causing an increase in inequality. The attack instigated on Monday, 8 March 2021 by a group of around 10 men claiming to be Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) in Victoria Street Durban CBD, which has since been rejected by the MKMVA leadership has left migrants, refugees, asylum seekers devastated and in fear of their lives. They witnessed their fellow family members subjected to violence, inhumane and degrading treatment through beatings of shop owners and petrol bombed of their businesses. Furthermore, two fellow African men sustained serious injuries and were taken to hospital for medical attention. Some were brutalized by the police while trying to disperse people with rubber bullets.

Xenophobia is a contradiction of constitution promises to human dignity and non-racialism. In March 2019, the government launched the National Action Plan to combat xenophobia, racism, discrimination and prejudice marking an important step towards addressing the widespread human rights abuses arising from xenophobic and discrimination that continue to plague South Africa. However, there is lack of accountability because few suspects have been prosecuted of the past crimes committed by perpetrators from 2008 till present on vulnerable migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Although the goal of the NAP is to improve the protection of foreigners and their access to justice. Law enforcement officials have been accused of responding with indifference and using counterfeit goods raids as a cover for xenophobic harassment and attacks.  Another barrier that has added to the vulnerability of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in accessing justice is the inability to obtain and renew documentation.

This month we reflect back on all sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of human rights, human dignity, democracy in South Africa. We should respect the inherent basic rights and freedoms belonging to every individual in the world from birth until death and not deprive anyone from their rights to life regardless of where they come from, what they believe or choose to live their life.

As we commemorate the Human Rights Month and the 40th Anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, we call for:

  • Unity, dignity, non-violent society based on equality and human dignity.
  • South Africa to promote and protects rights of all people in this country including refugees’ migrants, asylum seekers and as stipulated in the African Charter.
  • South Africa to condemn the continuous perpetration of these heinous crimes including murder, assault, looting of goods, destruction of business of people with impunity and ensure all suspects are apprehended, prosecuted, and receive harsh convictions and sentences.
  • The Government should ensure all involved in instigation of this crime to stop. All politicians in the leading party including opposition to conduct themselves responsibly in respecting the country’s commitment to human rights and play positive roles in the society to end all forms of violence, discrimination, and marginalisation of refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, who are black people from the soil of African continent.
  • SAHRC to conduct investigations into these crimes that continue unfolding in South Africa especially pre- elections. Such crimes are inhuman and degrading and conflict with efforts to build a human rights culture in the society and accountability.
  • The Government must do everything in its power to prevent violent experienced during the 2016 Local Government Elections. There is no reason for South Africa to degenerate into bloodshed of people based on difference of nationality.
  • The Government has adopted and launched a National Action Plan on Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Over and above this is the strong democratic institutions hailed as progressive and capable to root impunity, violence and injustice. The Government should monitor the implementation of the NAP and the establishment of an accountability mechanism.
  • The government should find measures to improve the documentation of asylum seekers, migrants, and refugees to enable them to access basic services and justice. Particularly, comply and implement the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee problems in Africa and the Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons.
  • Well trained police officers with zero tolerance on xenophobia is needed.
  • South African government should comply with resolution 131 & 304 passed by the African Commission by investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the attacks and to institute further measures to ensure the protection of foreign migrants in South Africa and their property.
  • South Africa to comply with its obligation under Articles 3 and 4 of the Maputo Protocol to take appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence, including against women of foreign nationalities, particularly nationals of other African countries.

 

For more information contact:

Cathy E Kodiemoka

0725450083

cathy@hurisa.org.za

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Category: Uncategorized

Comments Off on The Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) joins voices from all corners of the world to commemorate International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March globally. The global UN Women theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in the COVID-19 world “the theme is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights and commemorates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women in shaping the history of their countries and community. This theme also aligns with the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, “women in public life, equal participation in decision making and the flagship Generation Equality Campaign, which calls for women’s rights in decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care work and domestic work, and end all forms of violence against women and girls, and health-care services that respond to their needs.

Despite ordinary women unveiling their capacities and being at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis as healthcare workers, women human rights defenders, woman activists, care givers, community organisers, innovators and scientists still face challenges in being part of leadership and decision making. Men outpace women in leadership roles across every sector in the world  from corporate, non-profit, government, education, medicine, military and religion due to gender based stereotypes influenced by the cultural value dimensions and structural barriers. In South Africa there is enabling legislation such as Chapter 2 of the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa that recognizes the enjoyment of equal human rights for all. However women continue to experience gender based discrimination because of the patriarchal society that wrongly portray men as the only ones who are able to lead and this has limited their ability to exercise their rights and freedoms. As the COVID-19 global gripped the world, it soon became clear that COVID-19 exacerbated the existing vulnerabilities of women, LGBTIQ+ women, displaced migrants, refugee, people with disabilities and elderly person. The crisis highlighted the increase risk in:

  • Gender-based violence and femicide
  • Unemployment
  • Greater burden of domestic and care work
  • Reduced financial independence and future prospects
  • Frontline health workforce
  • Reduced access to health services and exclusion from potential COVID-19 treatments.
  • Police brutality
  • Harmful cultural practices

In light of these disturbing atrocities, we are able to hold unto hope that change can be achieved by electing more women in national and global policy spaces. Include more female voices at every table where decisions are being made to create a government that is gender responsive in achieving gender equality. In South Africa we acknowledge Phumzile Mlambo – Ngcuka who was the first Deputy President of South Africa from 2005-2008. In the UN Women statement, she emphasised the need for women’s representation that reflect all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations without being intimidated into silence and submissions. Another example that has been set for young black women was the inauguration of the first (1st) Black, South Asian American and first woman vice president Kamala Harris. This it to say we have come a long way to give up now, I quote Shirley Chisholm the first Black US Congresswoman once said:” if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”  It is time to encourage young women and girls to not limit themselves but to claim their space in leadership and decision-making positions. We call for young feminists across the world to embrace the unlimited possibilities that this life may bring.

This year on International Women’s Day we choose to challenge systematic barriers and inequality. We choose to challenge poverty. We choose to challenge unemployment. What do you choose to challenge?

Cathy E Kodiemoka

0725450083

HURISA’s details

Telephone: +27 11 4921103, Mobile: +27 72 358 8611,

Website: www.hurisa.org.za, Email: info@hurisa.org.za

 
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Category: Media statement