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Policy Submission: Draft National Action Plan; to combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

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Saturday, 07 May 2016, CoRMSA in partnership with Jo’burg Child Welfare through the support from Terre des Hommes (destination Unknown Campaign) held a policy engagement workshop with about 16 children and the youth on the Draft National Action Plan; to combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The purpose of the workshop was get the children and the youth to be involved on the proposed policy by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development  through making their own submission to the proposed policy. CoRMSA believes that it is of an importance to get the young generations to be involved in policy drafting for them to make their meaning and relevant contributions and their voices heard by the National Government. They (Children and Youth) were taken through the background, objective, and purpose of the draft policy and how to make submission to the policy to enable them to have an understanding and make their own meaningful submissions. As a result, they were able to make their contributions especially on racism, xenophobia and how to prevent the two social ills. CoRMSA will be submitting these submissions to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on behalf of the children and the youth.

The policy engagement workshop took place at Thembalethu, Johannesburg.  South Africa. Thembalethu was established in 1994, Thembalethu (isiZulu for ‘our hope’) is the centre situated in Johannesburg’s inner city area, that provides a multi-faceted service to the community. A key aspect is the outreach activities that not only serve to raise awareness for the centre, but also to raise awareness of social challenges such as human trafficking and HIV/AIDS.

Capacity Building: SA Immigration Policies Workshop

 

 

Mpuma 210 May 2016, CoRMSA conducted a capacity building workshop on South African Immigration Policies and Draft National Action Action Plan to combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. This one day workshop focused on creating a broader understanding of what are “immigration laws” and the basic fundamentals involved in immigration laws including refugees’ laws and current policy shift proposal including National Action Plan submission in South Africa. The discussion included the development of an understanding on the role of coalitions (NGOs) in understanding and advocating for the rights of non-nationals within the Republic of South Africa. The workshop also aimed to better equip organizations around Mpumalanga Province to enable them to advise and assist non-nationals who are currently residing in the Republic.

Workshop deliberations focused more on the recent Refugee Act of 1998 and the Immigration Act of 2002 vs the recent Refugee Amendment Bill by the Department of Home Affairs including the challenges faced by asylum seekers, refugees and migrants and how can those challenges be addressed. The workshop also deliberated and engage the proposed Draft National Action Action Plan to combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. This was to afford and  allow a space for Advice Office to make their meaningful and critical submissions to the proposed policy by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The workshop took place at Midway Inn, Hotel. Middelburg. Mpumalanga Province and it was well attended by over eleven (11) Advice Offices in and around the province.  Advice Offices are small, non-profit organisations that offer free legal and human rights information, advice and services.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers Informative and Interactive Workshop.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers Informative and Interactive Workshop

National Human Rights Day 2016 media statement

18 March 2016.

For Immediate release:

“Constitutional Human Rights are For All without Prejudice”

In South Africa, the month of March is recognized as a National Human Rights Month with the 21 March of each year being celebrated as a public holiday in South Africa to commemorate the Sharpeville massacre, which took place on this day in 1960, and to celebrate the human rights based Constitution that took effect for all in South Africa following the 1994 democratic elections.

In early 2015 and again this year, South Africa experienced vast tensions from both racist and xenophobic utterances and attacks. This led in loss of lives, family divisions, displacement, and further divided society in addition to the economic impact this has on our communities. CoRMSA believes that constitutional human rights are for everyone including asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who lives in the republic without prejudice based on nationality and race. One of the rights enshrined in the South African Constitution is the right to human dignity. CoRMSA strongly believes that racism and xenophobic actions takes away the right to dignity and exacerbates divisions, creating a society of “You and Me” or “Them and Us”.

CoRMSA further believes that for South Africa to achieve a well cohesive society free of xenophobia, racism and discrimination, we must restate that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. We must therefore challenge racism and xenophobia and empower our communities to understand that everyone has the right to life: this is not reserved for a particular nationality or race but applies to everyone in our country. The commemoration of this day provides the country with an opportunity to reflect on progress made in the promotion and protection of human rights. This will help in identifying the gaps, areas for improvement and implementable projects to deal with and combat these scourges.

CoRMSA welcomes the release of the draft National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances (NAP) by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for public comments. Fourteen years after South Africa hosted the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, 2001, we finally have an opportunity to input into a draft plan of action to which all government departments and other role players must report on their activities to combat discriminatory behavior of all kinds. We urge all sectors of society to engage with the NAP and send in comments to the Department of Justice before the deadline of 30 June 2016.

Furthermore, CoRMSA strongly shared the believe that all of us civil society organisations, Chapter 9 institutions, government departments, private sector, communities etc. have a responsibility to ensure that our human rights record and history are preserved and strengthened for future generations. We urge civil society to continue to play a central role in protecting and promoting human rights, allowing citizens to hold their government accountable and pushing for the publication of t Hate Crime Legislation to enable the judiciary to criminalise all forms of racism, discrimination and xenophobia. The South African Human Rights Commission must continue to play their role of human right protection and advocate for the upliftment of human rights in the country and supports the publication of the hate crime law.

For further information please contact:

Ms Roshan Dadoo Acting Executive Director – CoRMSA –082 816 2799/011 403 7560 roshan@cormsa.org.za  

Mr. Thifulufheli Sinthumule- National Programme Coordinator – CoRMSA – 078 287 1485/011 403 7560 thifulufheli@cormsa.org.za

 

National Human Rights Month – Children’s Rights are Human Rights Too..

Child Rights 3

Children’s Rights are Human Rights Too…

The South African Constitution of 1996 chapter two the “Bill of Rights” outlined and enshrines many human rights for all children including non-nationals children. Section 28 under the bill of rights specifically expounded the children’s rights including the right to: a name and a nationality from birth, to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment;  basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services;  be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation; be protected from exploitative labour practices; not to be required or permitted to perform work or provide services that  are inappropriate for a person of that child’s age; or place at risk the child’s well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development; not to be detained except as a measure of last resort, in which case, in addition to the rights a child enjoys under sections 12 and 35, the child may be detained only for the shortest appropriate period of time, and has the right to be.

In promoting and enriching the above children’s rights as enshrined in the constitution, the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) in with the Jesuit Refugee Service and Johannesburg Child Welfare through the support from Terre De Hommes (Destination Unknown Campaign) hosted host a roundtable discussion to deliberate on the upliftment of children’s rights and protection of all children in the republic. This roundtable discussion is aimed at promoting childrens’ rights and to highlight the challenges facing non-national children; and the development of an advocacy strategy to address those challenges.

In South Africa, 21 March of each year is recognized as National Human Rights Day. This national day is both a stark reminder of the tragic Sharpeville massacre and a celebration of South Africa’s unique constitution, which gives equal rights to all. The following topics and department were covered during this roundtable discussion:

  • Department of Home AffairsChallenges facing Asylum Seeker and Refugees Children re: Access to documentations.
  • Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation- Mental health needs on refugee and asylum seeker children.
  • Department of Social Development- Dealing with Undocumented or Unaccompanied Minors.
  • Lawyers for Human Rights legal argument on statelessness.
  • Johannesburg Child Welfare – Legal instrument available on children cases.

Civil Society Organizations, Government Department, Chapter 9 Institutions were invited to participate on this roundtable discussion and to provide their expertise to the discussion and outcome.

The discussion took place on Friday 18 March 2016, 10am till 13pm at a Venue: Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg.  Cnr Smit and Nugget Street, Berea. Johannesburg. .  For more information contact: to Mr. Thifulufheli Sinthumule Tel: o11 403 7650. Email: thifulufheli@cormsa.org.za

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