The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Thursday dragged South Africa before the International Criminal Court (ICC) over xenophobic attack on Nigerians and other foreigners living in the country.
The Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, disclosed this in a petition dated April 23, which he addressed to the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government on Wednesday invited the South African High Commissioner in Nigeria, Lulu Louis –Mnguni, over the xenophobia attacks on Nigerians and other blacks residing in the country.
The attacks, which started last week, followed the hate-speech by the Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini, that non- indigenes should vacate their country, accusing them of taking up employment opportunities meant for South African nationals.
SERAP, in its statement, said Bensounda should investigate the allegations of hate-speech by Zwelithini, which had resulted in the killing of some Nigerians and other African citizens.
It requested her to probe the complicity and negligence of the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent these crimes against other countries’ civilian population residing in South Africa.
The group also urged her to bring to justice anyone who was found to be responsible for these international crimes prohibited under the Rome Statute of the ICC.
SERAP said that it considered the use of speech by the Zulu King to promote hatred or incite violence against non-nationals such as Nigerians, particularly in the media, as a clear violation of the provisions of the statute.
“Grave statements by political leaders and prominent people that express discrimination and cause violence against non-nationals cannot be justified under any law.”
“This hate-speech generated fear and hatred that created the conditions for violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens.”
“SERAP believes that this has given rise to individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” the group said.
It argued that the statement by the Zulu King amounted to a harmful form of expression which incited or otherwise promoted hatred, discrimination, violence and intolerance.
SERAP said: “We are seriously concerned that crimes against humanity are often accompanied or preceded by the kind of statement made by the Zulu King.”
“Once the climate of violence has been created, direct and public incitement to crimes builds on it, exacerbating the situation by further heating up passions and directing South Africans’ hatred toward non-nationals such as Nigerians.”
“Hate-speech by King Zulu is legally tied to contemporaneous, large-scale violence and inhumane and discriminatory treatment of Nigerians and other African citizens.”
According to the group, the hate-speech by the king amounts to crime against humanity and has directly contributed to an infringement of the rights to life, equality and non-discrimination of Nigerians and other African citizens.
It said that the South African Government had not demonstrated the political will to bring those suspected to be responsible for crimes under international law to justice.