Xenophobic attacks: Falana writes Zuma, threatens legal action

Chukwudi Akasike and Ramon Oladimeji

A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has written to the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, urging him to order immediate investigation into continued xenophobic attacks in his country with the aim of fishing out and punishing the perpetrators.

Also, few days after the Niger Delta militants gave a month ultimatum to South African companies to leave Nigeria, the agitators have warned Nigerians to stay away from such companies for their safety.

Falana, in his letter to Zuma dated March 9, said it was regrettable that though xenophobic attacks had been going on in South Africa since 2008, authorities in the country had failed to take any definite step to stop it.

He argued that it was this failure of the South African Government that had emboldened the perpetrators of the xenophobic attacks to continue to kill foreigners and destroy their properties.

The lawyer argued that the failure of the South African Government to check the xenophobic attacks was a direct violation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, particularly Article 12 on the right to movement.

Falana, however, threatened to take legal action against the South African Government at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights if Zuma did nothing to stop xenophobic attacks in his country.

He said, “We believe that it is the failure of your government to bring perpetrators to justice and protect the victims of the xenophobic attacks that has resulted in a vicious cycle of attacks and impunity.

“These xenophobic attacks and violence are not only human rights violations but also criminal acts, and the persistent failure to proactively address the problems is a serious affront to the rule of law, and directly breaches your government’s international human rights obligations including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, particularly Article 12 on the right to movement.

“We therefore urge you to move swiftly to address the debilitating situation by identifying and arresting the perpetrators and bringing them to justice promptly.

“We also urge you to publicly commit to providing access to justice and effective remedy to victims. Effectively prosecuting the perpetrators and providing reparations to victims would serve as a deterrent to future attacks.

“We also urge you to put measures in place to proactively protect non-nationals including Nigerians living in South Africa.”

Three militant groups – Niger Delta Watchdogs, the Niger Delta Volunteers, and Niger Delta Strike Force – had on February 28, 2017, asked South African firms to leave the country within a month following the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

The coalition of militant groups said it would blow up more than 18 investments in Nigeria owned by South Africans if they failed to leave the West African country.

However, a new militant group in the oil-rich region, known as the Niger Delta Warrior, has expressed its support for the three groups.

A statement made available to one of our correspondents on Thursday via electronic mail and signed by Gen. Henry Etete, indicated that nothing would stop them from attacking firms like MTN, Shoprite, Multi Choice and Escom.

“…Nothing will stop us from attacking MTN, Shoprite, MultiChoice, Escom and others. We want to warn innocent Nigerians patronising these people to tread with caution as we cannot guarantee their safety,” the statement read.

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Source: Punch

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