The Hate Crimes Working Group and Peace Action, are concerned about the growing climate of violence in South Africa. The frequent and vicious outbreaks of xenophobic violence, violence against women and violence against the LGBTQI community, to name a few, are threatening the security of all who live in South Africa.
The increasing levels of intolerance and anger, expressed violently, have a devastating impact on those who are most vulnerable and marginalised in society - such as women, children, LGBTQI, foreigners and the destitute. The repeated xenophobic attacks during the past decade against refugees and other non-South Africans are adding to a culture of intolerance and resulting in violence, pain and suffering for victims of this violence. The government has failed to adequately respond to these incidents and do the work necessary to prevent continued incidences of xenophobic violence,
and to create a safe environment for non-South Africans living in South Africa.
Human Rights Day in South Africa, annually celebrated on 21 March, is a day for South Africans to remember the importance of equality and dignity as cornerstone human rights. This is the day when South Africans remember the violence and suffering endured during the Sharpeville Massacre, and should be the time when they pledge to contribute to a society that respects all people and protects the rights, dignity and security of all.
A "hate crime" is usually a violent, prejudice-motivated crime that occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership of a certain social group. Examples of such groups include but are not limited to: ethnicity, gender, language, nationality, physical appearance, religion or sexual orientation. Hate crime violence is not simply physical and psychological exclusion, harassment, verbal abuse and humiliation are equally destructive.
The Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality, security and freedom, as well as highlighting that no person may discriminate against another based on the aforementioned criteria.
Hate Crimes therefore directly violate SA's Constitution and the fundamental rights that belong to all who live in South Africa. It is not simply the responsibility of Government, but also that of every citizen to ensure the constitution is respected. All violations of constitutional rights and human rights should be punished, and efforts must be taken by Government to prevent violations in the first place.
From the HUMAN RIGHTS DAY MESSAGE issued by the Hate Crimes Working Group, which consists of Amnesty International SA, Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), The Gay and Lesbian Network, OUT, Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, Sonke Gender Justice, South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Sweat, Triangle Project, The Women's Legal Centre.
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