131 Civil Society Organizations have ahead of the 25th Session of the Assembly of the African Union, scheduled to take place on Sunday 14 and Monday 15th June 2015 written to the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Dr. Nkosana Dlamini Zuma, expressing deep concern over the resurgence of xenophobic violence in South Africa.
They termed as irrelevant, a statement allegedly made by South Africa President Jacob Zuma during a Freedom Day event in April 2015, where he is said to have said a Mozambican national Emmanuel who was reportedly killed during xenophobic attacks was an “illegal immigrant using a false name.”
The Republic of South Africa, has in the first half of 2015 featured prominently on the global media headlines following a spate of xenophobic attacks against migrants and refugees predominantly from other African countries.
In the open letter dated 10th June and presented to the AU Chair on the occasion of the AU Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg, June 2015, the Civil Society Organizations say the immigration status of foreign nationals who are victims of the attacks in South Africa is immaterial and that South Africa has an obligation to protect all persons within its borders.
They have called on the AU, as the body responsible for the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa to intervene by compelling the Republic of South Africa to promote and protect human and peoples' rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.
“We urge the AU to call upon the South African government to take concrete steps to end these attacks, prosecute perpetrators and protect migrants and refugees living in their territory from violations of their human rights, including the right to life.” Read the letter
The Civil Society Organizations say they are particularly concerned about the loss of lives, injuries to persons, damage to private property and the infringement of dignity of migrants and refugees living in South Africa, noting that the right to life should not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Between 2000 and March 2008, at least 67 people died in what were identified as xenophobic attacks in South Africa. In May 2008, a series of rapid large-scale attacks left 62 people dead and over 600 injured. Twenty-one of those killed were South African citizens, apparently because they were perceived as foreigners. The attacks were linked to xenophobia, and have continued to occur every year since 2009.
A nationwide spike in xenophobic attacks against migrants and refugees occurred in January and again in April 2015, resulting in at least seven verified deaths and at least 5,000 migrants and refugees displaced.
Read the Joint statement to the AU on Xenophobia HERE