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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Thifulufheli Sinthumule- National Programme Coordinator – CoRMSA – 078 287 1485/011 403 7560 email@example.com
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 Affairs – Challenges 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
On International Migrants Day, CoRMSA celebrates the contributions that asylum seekers, refugees and migrants continue to make to the socio-economic life of South Africa. We call on South Africa and all UN state parties to honour the commitments they made earlier this year in adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in which they “recognize the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development”.
However this year in particular we mourn the deaths of those that have been victims of xenophobic violence and perilous journeys around the world. The SDGs further commit member states to “cooperate internationally to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration involving full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants regardless of migration status, of refugees and of displaced persons. Such cooperation should also strengthen the resilience of communities hosting refugees, particularly in developing countries.”
CoRMSA recommits to holding government accountable to its obligations, and to working with host and migrant communities so that 2016 is a year of solidarity and common purpose as we collectively mobilise for equal rights and justice for all!
For more information contact: Roshan Dadoo, Director, CoRMSA: 082 816 2799
10 December 2015, In observing the International Human Rights Day, Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) in partnership with the City Of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality (Migration Unit), ProBono.org and Legal Aid South Africa (Alexandra Office) embarked on an outdoor interactive and human rights educational information sharing activity with the actual communities in Diepsloot Township. The activity took place at the Diepsloot Mall. This activity was for organisations to directly interact with beneficiaries in their communities on issues relating to the protection and access to human rights holistically. There two information stall at the mall both filled with educational information materials. Over 300 South African Constitutions together other educational information materials such as access to health care, education and social grants, HIV/AIDS, gender based violence etc were distributed to over 300 community members who visited our stalls. Majority of community members who visited our two stalls informed us that it the first time in their lives to have a copy of the constitution in their hands. They also shared with us that having copy of the constitution in their possession will help them and their families to read and understand their rights and limitations and how other spheres of government operate including the chapter institutions. What was also appealing was that out of over 300 people who visited our stall majority of those were young generation and women. This shows a greater willingness from the youth and women to be empowered and capacitated about their rights. This kind of an activity should be carried to other townships and rural areas in the republic. The South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development should take the constitution to the people as there is a great need. By so doing, the South African Constitution will become their human rights reference booklet.
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day. Every year this day has a theme and this year’s theme is “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary. The year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear – which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago.
For more information visit http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/HRDay2014/Pages/HRD2014.aspx