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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

MEDIA ADVISORY: National Investigative Hearing on Migration, Xenophobia and Social Cohesion

7- 8 February 2018

The South African Human Rights Commission will convene a two-day National Investigative Hearing on Migration, Xenophobia and Social Cohesion from 7-8 February 2018.

Migration has become a prominent issue in South Africa in recent years, particularly following the most recent spate of violence against foreign nationals which spread throughout Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in March 2015 and 2017, leaving several people dead, hundreds injured, and thousands of migrants, primarily of African descent, displaced. Foreign national-owned shops in townships were looted and torched, while foreign nationals were attacked and driven out of local communities. Over 5,000 foreign nationals were reportedly left homeless, with countless livelihoods destroyed. The outbreak of violence, which was largely reflected as a manifestation of xenophobia in the country, triggered international outcry and condemnation. This has led to extensive debates of the effectiveness of the current migration policy and practice in the country, which includes the expressed intention to increase immigration control and to revisit existing laws and international obligations.
The Commission continues to receive ongoing complaints relating to the discrimination, poor treatment and instances of violence committed against foreign nationals across the country. Complaints relating to the right to equality have consistently formed one of the top 5 rights violations at the Commission, and complaints relating to discrimination on the basis of ethnic or social origin have constituted between 7% and 10% of all equality related complaints, constituting a significant portion.

The National Investigative Hearing on Migration, Xenophobia and Social Cohesion is intended to come to some understanding of the state of xenophobia in South Africa; to respond to the concerns of South Africans; to get a better understanding of the underlying causes and manifestations of xenophobia.  The Hearing further intends to assess the effects of xenophobia on non-nationals; to consider the impact of xenophobia on South African society as a whole; and to review measures taken so far to combat xenophobia and assess their effectiveness.

The National Hearing will place particular focus on social integration in communities, legislative and policy conception, access to basic services, as well as the prevalence of xenophobia and related intolerance in the country. The hearing will aim to inter alia examine the challenges facing migrants, local communities, organs of state as well as non-governmental organisations, with a view of creating a deeper understanding of migrants and migration for all persons in the country and, fundamentally, to ensure that the rights of migrants, as a vulnerable and largely marginalised group, are afforded with appropriate respect and protection.

Stakeholders expected to make submissions, include:

•    African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS)
•    African Diaspora Forum
•    Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
•    Department of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs (COGTA)
•    Department of Arts and Culture
•    Department of Basic Education
•    Department of Health Presentation by [TBC]
•    Department of Home Affairs
•    Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
•    Department of Social Development [TBC]
•    Foundation for Human Rights (FHR)
•    Hate Crimes Working Group (HCWG)
•    International Detention Coalition (IDC)
•    International Organization for Migration (IOM)
•    Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)
•    Refugee Rights Unit, University of Cape Town
•    Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town
•    Sonke Gender Justice
•    South African Police Service (SAPS)
•    Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)
•    The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR)

National Investigative Hearing on Migration, Xenophobia and Social Cohesion
Dates:     7-8 February 2018
Venue:     SAHRC Training Centre, 2nd Floor, Braampark Offices, 33 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein
Time:        8.30am – 5.30pm
Media are welcome to attend.  
Media queries: Gail Smith, SAHRC Spokesperson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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