Xenophobia: SERAP petitions African Commission

September 8, 2019
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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to act against South Africa, following the xenophobic attacks in that country.

The group in an open letter to Mrs Soyata Maiga, Chairperson of commission, and other members, requesting them: “to urgently submit a case on the escalating xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African citizens in South Africa to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and to seek an effective remedy and reparation for Nigerian victims.”

SERAP said: “these attacks constitute serious violations of the human rights of Nigerians and other African citizens in South Africa.”

The organization also urged the commission to “seek in the case to the African Court, punitive damages and adequate compensation of $10 billion (USD) on behalf of hundreds of Nigerian victims and their families. This amount will sufficiently take into account individual harm suffered by victims.”

In the open letter dated 6 September 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “This is a key moment for the commission to push to protect the human rights of the victims. The commission ought to make it clear to the South African authorities that the victims of the heinous crimes have a right to an effective remedy and reparation, which includes restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.”

The open letter read in part: “If the victims see that a process for ensuring adequate compensation for the crimes committed against them in South Africa is underway, it will also discourage revenge violence and killings and help break the cycle of violence that is now spiralling beyond control in the country.

“If the commission does not pursue a case for compensation for victims, the Nigerian government may compel it to do so before the court. The call for an effective remedy and reparation for the victims of xenophobic attacks and violence is overwhelming, and comes from direct victims and their families, from the Nigerian government and the leadership of Nigeria’s National Assembly.

“Pushing for payment of $10 billion (USD) compensation for Nigerian victims of xenophobic attacks and violence can demonstrate that the days of impunity for these crimes are gone.

“This would also ensure the effective implementation of the commission’s Resolution ACHPR/Res.131 (XXXXIII) and Resolution ACHPR/Res.304 (LVI) as well as its press statements of 2017 and 4 April 2019, which expressed grave concern over xenophobic attacks that took place in 2008, 2015, 2017 and 2019 respectively.

“Every African citizen in South Africa is guaranteed the rights to life and human dignity no matter their nationality or migration status. The commission should call on high-ranking political leaders in South Africa to immediately end public statements, which amount to advocacy of hatred or incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

“The commission should consider the xenophobic attacks as amounting to serious and widespread violations of human rights of Nigerians in South Africa. The lack of accountability and adequate compensation for the xenophobic attacks and violence committed against Nigerians in South Africa for many years has fostered a sense that there are no consequences for violence.”

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