28 March 2014
Statement of South Africa Forum on International Solidarity (SAFIS) for immediate release
SAFIS is responding to South Africa’s proposed amendments to the Draft Resolution on the protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protest, currently under consideration at the Twenty Fifth (25) Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council under agenda item 3.
SAFIS is raising serious concerns with South Africa’s complete disregard of the country’s Constitutional foundation and guaranteed rights promoting and protecting the right to peaceful assembly and demonstration. These amendments are in absolute contradiction of the spirit and purport of the Constitution which brought to end the repressive regime of apartheid. The country is making great strides in ensuring gatherings of collectives are treated as rights and not as mere privileges as was during the dark periods of apartheid. The month of March is dedicated to commemoration of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre which left 69 people brutally killed and 109 injured. We are concerned that South Africa would violate observing this critical period by engaging in actions that have the potential to infringe the right to freedom of assembly.
The civil society continues engaging the government to increase its protective mechanism on the ground to out root the culture of police brutality and impunity where it acts seriously to ensure its horrific history of human rights abuses is not further tarnished. Since 2008 the country has been inundated with over 1200 service delivery protests per month which ended bringing the country human rights records to disrepute and haunted by the Marikana Massacre, AndriesTetane and other innocent citizens whose human rights continue to be violated by law enforcers. South Africa should use its domestic human rights dispensation to guard against violation of this right nationally, regionally and globally by states parties and encourage the states to fulfill their responsibility to protect citizens by facilitation of g conducive environments for assemblies. SAFIS calls the Minister of DIRCO, her Excellency Maite Nkoana- Mashabane to urge the South African officials in Geneva to withdraw all the 5 amendments and to support the resolution as tabled. SAFIS has the following concerns about the amendments:
- The amendments would substitute a call for the development of concrete guidelines for facilitation and protection of peaceful protests based on good practice which will assist States to promote and protect human rights in the context of peaceful assembly, with further regional consultations on the management of assembles
- The adding of a reference to the UN General Assembly Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, whose provisions are not clearly related to the protection of protesters’ of human rights, would portray protests as not being driven by local constituencies
- Proposed language regarding the possible threat of protests to the stability of the State, is both inconsistent with existing international human rights law and open to subjective interpretation, therefore undermining the protection of protesters’ human rights
- Proposed additional language on the responsibilities of protesters are worded to deflect from the responsibility of States to protect individuals from human rights violations
- The amendments also suggest language that confuses the message that international human rights standards ought to underpin national legislation and policies
By SAFIS Contact: 27 11 333 1730
South Africa Forum on International Solidarity (SAFIS) is a broad-based platform that brings together individuals, civil society organisations; labour, interfaith base organisations, youth and women formations around a common goal of supporting other people’s struggles for human rights and justice across the world.
Legal Resources Centre
Marianne Buenaventura Goldman