The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), yesterday dragged South Africa before the International Criminal Court (ICC) over xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners living in the country.
This is contained in a petition dated April 23, which was addressed to the ICC Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda by the Executive Director of SERAP, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni.
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.
“Grave statements by political leaders and prominent people that express discrimination and cause violence against non-nationals cannot be justified under any law,” SRAP said.
“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.
The human rights group 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.
“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.”
SERAP argued 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.