By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has expressed readiness to “take appropriate action” on request by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, asking the commission to “submit a case on the escalating xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other African citizens in the country to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
SERAP is also seeking an effective remedy and reparation for Nigerian victims.
Recall that SERAP had in its letter to Chairperson of the commission, Ms Soyata Maiga last Friday maintained that the xenophobic 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 the individual harm suffered by victims.”
In an email response to SERAP yesterday, Maiga said: “Thank you for your open letter requesting our commission to take action to the court. I have just shared the letter with Ms Jamesina Essie King, the Chair of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, for follow-up and appropriate action.”
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Responding to Maiga’s email, SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “Thank you very much for your email and quick response to our request. We really appreciate your commitment to human rights in Africa, and the indication and assurance that the commission will take action on this very important matter, and address the grave human rights violations of Nigerians in South Africa. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any further information.”
Oluwadare also said: “The fact that a preeminent African human rights body has decided to take action on the matter shows the commission’s willingness to stand up for the human rights of Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa, and to become more responsive to rights holders and victims.”
“This will put massive pressure on the South African authorities and political leaders to uphold the highest standards in the protection of human rights of Nigerians and end their political rhetoric and incitement to hatred, violence and discrimination.”
SERAP had in its letter to the commission dated September 6th, 2019, 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.”
The organization 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.”