Xenophobia: SERAP Makes Demand From African Commission
File image courtesy: MUJAHID SAFODIEN VIA GETTY IMAGES

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) says it has asked the African Commission to seek an effective remedy and reparation for Nigerians attacked by South Africans in the renewed xenophobic attacks.

SERAP on Sunday said it sent an open letter to Soyata Maiga, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the commission’s members.

Advertise With Us

It said it asked 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’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation 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.”

It also said, “For the sake of the victims, the commission should move swiftly on the matter to prevent further harm to Nigerians and other foreign nationals in the country. Unlike for individuals and NGOs, the African Court Protocol does not require Nigeria to have made the declaration under Article 34(6) for the commission to submit a case on behalf of the Nigerian victims before the Court.”

The organisation’s letter also read that “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.

“Pursuing the case before the African Court and seeking adequate compensation in the sum of $10 billion (USD) would help to ensure justice to the victims and deter South African authorities and high-ranking public officials who incite hatred, violence and discrimination.

“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.”

Buhari’s Special Envoy Returns From South Africa

Ambassador Ahmed Abubakar, the special envoy sent to South Africa by President Muhammadu Buhari over the renewed xenophobic attacks, has returned to Nigeria.

Concise News reports that Abubakar met with South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in the wake of the attacks Nigerians and other foreigners in the former apartheid country.

Why Nigeria Won’t Break Diplomatic Relations With South Africa – Onyeama

Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, had on Friday told federal lawmakers that the country was not thinking about breaking diplomatic relations with South Africa because it would not be in the interest of Nigerians living there.

Onyeama made this known when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Diaspora in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

“We are not thinking to the stage of diplomatic ties called off. There are various options. We are not by any means at a stage where we are breaking diplomatic relations with South Africa,” Onyeama told newsmen.

Attacks on Nigerians, other foreigners in South Africa

There has been tension between the two countries over renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa.

Assets belonging to Nigerians in South Africa have been targeted, triggering retaliatory attacks against South Africa-linked businesses in parts of Lagos, Ibadan, and the capital – Abuja.

On Tuesday, September 3, Onyeama summoned the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, over the attacks, before President Muhammadu Buhari sent an envoy to the country over the issue.

But the Nigerian government has since cautioned its citizens to stop such attacks.

The minister also dismissed reports that Nigerians have been killed in South Africa.

“We know for a fact that no Nigerian life has been lost so we are extremely concerned now to ensure that there will be adequate compensation for property that have been damaged,” he said.

“It has been happening for far too long, it’s becoming almost endemic, so with the distinguished senators, are helping with some of the options that we may have to ensure that this will be the last time we will ever be meeting to talk about Nigerians attacked in South Africa and to take definitive measures.”