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South Africa

    August 13, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs CAT   14 August 2015

    All members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) implicated in the Marikana killings and subsequent cover-up must be suspended immediately pending the outcome of further investigations, said Amnesty International today, ahead of the third anniversary of the unlawful and fatal police shootings of 34 striking miners.

    As a first step, President Zuma must initiate the suspension of the National Commissioner of Police, Riah Phiyega. Three years on, not a single member of the SAPS has been suspended or held to account.

    “With police authorities closing ranks in the face of strong findings against them in the Farlam Commission report, it is vital that President Zuma shows strong leadership and takes action against those right at the top of the police service,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “Anything less will result in the continued lack of accountability for the unlawful killings by police on 16 August 2012 at Marikana. The ongoing denial of justice for the victims and their families is unacceptable.” 

    July 17, 2015

    •Backed by Bono & Edge of U2, John Legend, Peter Gabriel, Sting & Yoko Ono

    • Giant memorial tapestry in honour of Madiba to be unveiled this December

    International travellers passing through Cape Town International Airport will soon be greeted by a giant tapestry in memory of global human rights defender Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International announced today. The organisation, through its Art for Amnesty project, has commissioned acclaimed artist, Peter Sis, to design the giant memorial tapestry honouring Madiba, for unveiling on 10 December 2015, International Human Rights day.

    Measuring over 6 x 3 metres, and woven by Atelier Pinton in Aubusson, France, ‘Flying Madiba’, as it is called, will be displayed in the 'meeters and greeters' area of the international arrivals hall of Cape Town International Airport.  The Mandela tapestry project is a partnership between Art for Amnesty and the Cape Town International Airport and is endorsed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

    The project has been generously backed and funded by Bono & Edge of U2, John Legend, Peter Gabriel, Sting & Yoko Ono.

    June 24, 2015

    By Netsanet Belay, Africa Director, Research and Advocacy at Amnesty International. Follow Netsanet on Twitter @NetsanetDBelay

    As the International Criminal Court (ICC) opens its Assembly of States Parties – the periodic gathering of all the countries who have ratified the Court’s statute – in The Hague today, it does so with a bloody nose.

    The Court was yet again met with contempt this month by South Africa’s failure to cooperate with its arrest warrants for one of its longest running fugitives, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.

    On 15 June, South Africa’s government failed to obey an order from its own high court to prevent al-Bashir from leaving the country. The order had been made while the court decided whether to compel the government to fulfil its international and constitutional obligations to uphold two ICC warrants for the arrest of Sudanese President al-Bashir. The Sudanese leader, who was visiting Johannesburg for an African Union Summit, faces seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as three counts of genocide in Darfur.

    June 15, 2015

    The South African governments shocking failure to heed to its own court order and arrest Bashir is a betrayal to the hundreds of thousands of victims who were killed during the Darfur conflict, Amnesty International said today. 

    The North Gauteng High Court ruled this afternoon that the South African government’s failure to detain Sudan President Omar al-Bashir was inconsistent with the Constitution and that the government should have arrested him upon his arrival in the country pending a formal request from the ICC. 

    However, he was apparently allowed to leave this morning despite an interim order that he be prevented his departure. 

    “South Africa’s role was clear from the day president Omar Al-Bashir touched down in the country – he should have been arrested and handed over to the ICC to face trial for the war crimes he is alleged to have committed,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa. 

    June 13, 2015

    South Africa must immediately arrest Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal (ICC), Amnesty International has said today. Omar Al-Bashir, who is on the wanted list of the court, is reportedly on his way to South Africa to attend the 25th AU Summit currently underway in Johannesburg.

    “Al-Bashir is a fugitive from justice. If the government of President Zuma fails to arrest him, it would have done nothing, save to give succour to a leader who is accused of being complicit in the killing, maiming, torture of hundreds of thousands of people in a conflict that has blighted the lives of millions and destroyed the hopes and aspirations of an entire generation,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

    June 11, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs CAT  12 June 2015

    The African Union (AU) should call on the South African authorities to provide a long-term security guarantee for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers living in the country, Amnesty International and other 12 civil society organizations said today at a side event during the AU summit underway in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

    The 25th Ordinary Session of the AU takes place against the backdrop of continuing xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals living in the country by locals.

    “This is the moment for the AU to put pressure on the South African government to resolve the persistent occurrence of Xenophobia in the country and ensure there is no impunity for the perpetrators. The AU must remind the government of its obligation to protect everyone living in its territory from violent attacks, regardless of their status. Xenophobic attacks must end,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa Region.

    May 14, 2015

    The South African police and Immigration officials must fully and immediately comply with the Court Order of 12 May 2015 to not deport hundreds of refugees and others arrested under operation “Fiela”, Amnesty International-South Africa said today.    

    “The authorities must ensure that all detained persons are enabled to both contact their lawyers and challenge the detention and orders for deportation”, said Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane, Executive Director of Amnesty International-South Africa.

    The repeated violations of the rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants detained after police raids in inner city Johannesburg on 8 May is a matter of grave concern.
    “The court’s ruling instructing the police and immigration officials to act within the law confirms that the rights of those arrested had been violated since the beginning of the operation.”

    “It is outrageous that the police and immigration officials detained all foreigners they encountered, including recognized refugees and asylum-seekers. Such disproportionate acts fuel xenophobia.”

    March 30, 2015

    South African President Jacob Zuma must urgently make public the findings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry into the violence that that led to the killings of 34 striking miners on 16 August 2012 and the violent deaths of 10 other people in the preceding days, Amnesty International said today.

    The Commission is required to submit its final report and findings to the President on 31 March 2015.

    “The surviving victims of the tragic events of Marikana and the families of all those who died have a right to receive justice and reparations for the harm they have suffered,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “President Jacob Zuma must make public the full report as a priority. The South African authorities must also ensure full accountability and the re-establishment of lawful and impartial policing as a matter of urgency.

    Amnesty International has followed the work of the Commission of Inquiry closely from its establishment in late 2012, including attending many of its hearings and providing support in collaboration with others to the victims. 

    October 09, 2014

    Hundreds of pregnant women and girls are dying needlessly in South Africa, partly because they fear their HIV status may be revealed if they access antenatal care services, according to a major report published by Amnesty International today.

    Struggle for Maternal Health: Barriers to Antenatal Care in South Africa, details how fears over patient confidentiality and HIV testing, a lack of information and transport problems are contributing to hundreds of maternal deaths every year by acting as barriers to early antenatal care.

    “It is unacceptable that pregnant women and girls are continuing to die in South Africa because they fear their HIV status will be revealed, or because of a lack of transport or basic health and sexuality education. This cannot continue,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “The South African government must ensure all departments work together to urgently address all the barriers that place the health of pregnant women and girls at risk,” said Salil Shetty.

    August 15, 2014

    Posted at 0001 BST 16 August 2014

    On the second anniversary of the catastrophic events in Marikana, justice for the victims and full accountability are still urgently needed, Amnesty International said today. All those involved in the unlawful decision to use lethal force must be held fully accountable and the disturbing pattern of obstruction of the investigations into the deaths must stop.

    Amnesty International believe that the police, acting on an unlawful decision, used unjustified lethal force against the miners, leaving 34 dead and more than 70 others injured. The police, possibly in collusion with others, also concealed and falsified evidence and attempted to mislead the judicial Commission of Inquiry into the deaths.

    “Two years after the Marikana shootings, the need for full co-operation with the inquiry and accountability for both the unlawful killings and the cover-up of these crimes is as urgent as ever,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    June 12, 2014

    Attacks on Somali-owned shops in and around Mamelodi township over the last six days have cost lives and livelihoods and are part of a disturbing trend of violence against refugees and migrants which the police and government are failing to address, Amnesty International said.

    “Despite repeated calls, the police were slow to respond and failed to adequately deploy patrols to stop the escalation of violence which has so far left one refugee dead, ten others injured and at least 76 shops burnt or looted,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “These attacks are just the latest in a wave of ongoing and widespread violence targeted at refugees and migrants in South Africa. The fact that they were preventable highlights a pattern of inaction on the part of the police and a failure of political will in government to tackle this violence.”

    The violence erupted on 7 June in Mamelodi, a township northeast of Pretoria. But despite the fact that police were informed soon after the violence started, they failed to respond appropriately and rapidly.

    December 05, 2013

    Responding to the sad news of Nelson Mandela’s death, Amnesty International paid tribute today to one of the world’s most visionary leaders in the fight to protect and promote human rights.

    “As a world leader who refused to accept injustice, Nelson Mandela’s courage helped change our entire world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “The death of Nelson Mandela is not just a loss for South Africa. It is a loss for people all over the world who are fighting for freedom, for justice and for an end to discrimination.”  

    "Nelson Mandela's commitment to human rights was epitomized by his unswerving resolve to stamp out racial inequality during apartheid, followed by his vital work in combating HIV/AIDS in South Africa. His legacy across Africa, and the world, will stand for generations."

    October 28, 2013

    Allegations of abuse, including the use of electric shocks, against inmates in a privately run prison in South Africa raise serious questions about the authorities’ real commitment to tackle torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International said.

    “Unfortunately, these recent allegations of abuse against inmates in South Africa’s Mangaung prison are consistent with a long-standing pattern across the country, including disturbing levels of impunity for human rights abuses within South Africa’s prisons,” said Mary Rayner, South Africa researcher at Amnesty International.

    “That the South African authorities have reportedly launched an official investigation into the allegations is positive. The question now is whether they will actually bring those responsible to justice and provide full reparations to victims, as opposed to what has happened too many times in the past.”

    Amnesty International will continue to monitor the follow-up to these investigations.

    “Any investigation into the alleged abuses must be prompt, impartial and independent,” said Mary Rayner.

    August 15, 2013

    The Government of South Africa must ensure that the Commission of Inquiry into the killings at Marikana does not fail to deliver fair access to justice, said Amnesty International today.

    Nearly a year after the large-scale human rights abuses at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, the vital task of achieving accountability for these abuses is incomplete and at risk.

    The Commission of Inquiry, the main official vehicle set up to establish the facts and make recommendations to government, is currently in crisis. 

    “By anyone’s measure, the outcome of the police operation at Marikana was absolutely catastrophic,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Program Director for Africa. 

    “The long-term consequences for the respect and protection of human rights in South Africa will be severe should the authorities fail in taking all necessary steps to achieve accountability for what happened in Marikana on 16 August 2012.”

    Thirty-four striking miners died in Marikana after police opened fire on them. More than 80 other miners sustained serious injuries. 

    June 25, 2013

    Homophobic attacks and harassment across sub-Saharan Africa are becoming more visible, indicating that homophobia is reaching dangerous levels, Amnesty International said today as it launched a comprehensive report documenting the discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) people on the continent.

    Making Love a Crime: Criminalization of same-sex conduct in sub-Saharan Africa looks at how “homosexual acts” are being increasingly criminalized across Africa as a number of governments seek to impose draconian penalties or broaden the scope of existing laws, including by introducing the death penalty.

    “These attacks – sometimes deadly - must be stopped. No one should be beaten or killed because of who they are attracted to or intimately involved with,” said Widney Brown, Amnesty International’s director of Law and Policy.

    “In too many cases these attacks on individuals and groups are being fuelled by key politicians and religious leaders who should be using their position to fight discrimination and promote equality.”

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