A group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Thursday said it had petitioned the South African Government before the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the current xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in the country.
Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP’s Executive Director, disclosed this in a petition dated April 23, addressed to ICC Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, made available on Thursday.
It said the South African Government had not demonstrated the political will to bring the suspected culprits of the crimes to book under international law.
SERAP, therefore, urged ICC to particularly investigate the allegations of hate-speech by South African Zulu Chief, Zwelithini, which had resulted in the killing of some foreigners in the country.
It urged the ICC to probe the complicity and/or negligence of South Africa’s law enforcement agencies in preventing the xenophobic attacks and killings.
The group noted that international crimes like xenophobic killings were prohibited by the Rome Statute of the ICC and urged the court to bring to justice anyone found to be responsible for the act.
It observed that the speech credited to the Zulu King urging foreigners to leave South Africa apparently instigated hatred and incited violence against non-nationals and so it considered such a speech a “clear violation of the provisions of the Rome Statute.’’
SERAP said: “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 was seriously concerned that crimes against humanity were often accompanied or preceded by the kind of statement made by the Zulu King.
It further said: “Hate-speech by the Zulu King is legally tied to contemporaneous, large-scale violence and inhumane and discriminatory treatment of Nigerians and other African citizens.
“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.
SERAP, therefore, urged ICC to hold that the hate-speech by Zwelithini was tantamount to crime against humanity, which had directly caused the infringement of the rights to life, equality and non-discrimination of the victims of the attacks.