Date: Oct 30, 2019

SOUTH AFRICA: Police must exercise restraint when dealing with protestors

Amnesty International is calling on the South African police to exercise restraint when dealing with protestors.

Referring to the standoff between the police and foreign nationals in Cape Town today, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said: “The use of rubber bullets and stun grenades was unnecessary and clearly exacerbated the situation. In addition, we are concerned that these methods were used while there were children present, and that this may have caused trauma and injury to them. The authorities are the duty bearers and must urgently find alternative, and safer, ways of dealing with crowds.

“Furthermore, it is critical that the South African authorities and the UNHCR work urgently to resolve the situation in Cape Town, as well as in Pretoria, in order to keep people safe and to protect their human rights.”

Amnesty International released a report yesterday highlighting the challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa.

“The current asylum management process system is failing everyone and standoffs like today’s are a direct consequence of this. In persisting with a broken system, the government leaves those trying to claim asylum undocumented and vulnerable to harassment, arrest and detention,” said Shenilla Mohamed.

“They cannot work, they cannot access education or healthcare. They are living in limbo and they are desperate.

“Until and unless these issues are resolved South Africa will continue to see outbreaks of violence, xenophobia and attacks involving foreign nationals. We need to find proper and lasting solutions to this issue and ensure that the human rights of all are protected.”

Background

Foreign nationals have been camping outside the UNHCR offices in Cape Town and Pretoria for three weeks and are asking to be resettled outside of South Africa claiming that they do not feel safe here.

Amnesty International South Africa released a report – Living in Limbo: Rights of Asylum Seekers Denied – yesterday. The report highlights the failures of the system and the human consequences of these failures.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 11 283 6000 (office) or +27 (0)64 890 9224 (mobile); mienke.steytler@amnesty.org.za