JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa has taken positive steps in responding to violence against Â lesbians and gays Â but concerns remain Â on about the treatment of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers by government officials from various departments.
In a Human Rights report Â released today, the watchdog that although facilities such as Â healthcare are constitutionally guaranteed for everyone living in SA, many asylum seekers Â are being denied access or unaware that they are entitled to the facility.
“Its Department of Justice and Constitutional Development launched a public campaign which includes a national intervention strategy to address anti-LGBT violence and strengthen institutional responses to LGBT hate crimes, violence, and discrimination.”
The report also cites the Â use of excessive force by law enforcement agencies such as the police in dealing with foreigners.
“On June 19, 2014 security officials and police used excessive force to control a crowd of foreign nationals who were attempting to renew their permits at Marabastad reception office in Pretoria. Security officials and police attacked the unarmed crowd with whips and pepper spray,” reads the report Â adding that there were illegal detentions Â at Â Lindela Repatriation Centre .
“The (High) court found that the actions of the Department of Home Affairs and the minister in detaining migrants for over 120 days at Lindela were unlawful and unconstitutional. The High Court declared that individuals detained there had been inhumanely treated, and that officials had failed to follow fair and legal procedure by detaining individuals for longer than 30 days without the necessary warrant of a magistrate permitting extended detention.”
Although the report does not cover the recent Â 2015 Soweto lootings of Â foreign owned Â shops , it talks Â of incidents of violence against foreigner in 2014.
“Continued incidents of violence against foreign nationals and looting of foreign-owned shops in 2014 highlighted the governmentâ€™s inability to address the root causes of xenophobia. In June 2014, bands of local youths attacked Somali shopkeepers in Mamelodi East, Pretoria. Two Somalis were killed and around 100 men, women, and children fled their shops and homes. No one was held accountable for the attacks,” says the report.
The report also Â criticises SA’s foreign policy Â describing it as inconsistent.
SA, which has mediated in the Zimbabwean political crisis, has been said to
South Africaâ€™s inconsistent foreign policy once again came to the fore in 2014. taken decisions that contradict its human rights principles.
While Â it was quick to deal with political crisis in Lesotho, the report cites Â its repeated denial of Â the Dalai Lama a visa to the country, three times in five years .
It also criticises SA’s reluctance to investigate human rights abuses in Zimbabwe after a landmark judgement, Â by the South African Constitutional Court that the South African Police Service must investigate crimes against humanity in Zimbabwe in 2007. Â – www.zimsinsa.com