CSO Workshop On “Access To Justice and Constitutional Rights For Non-Nationals”

Over the past 3 years, the African Centre for Migration & Society, in collaboration with OXFAM and the European Union, has conducted an innovative multi-sited research project aimed at strengthening access to justice and constitutional rights for non-nationals in South Africa. Motivated by the desire to strengthen democracy and protect human rights for all in South Africa, the research focused on the structural challenges that foreign nationals experience in trying to access both formal and informal justice systems, the prevention of violence against foreign nationals and other outsiders, and the building of social cohesion in diverse local communities.

Africa Unite was invited to join other institutions for this civil society workshop on 24 October 2012.

The main aim of this launch was to bring together civil society organizations, advocacy and migrant groups to assess the following aspects of their advocacy and outreach activities:

  • Definitions and indicators used for social cohesion in outreach activities
  • How to operationalize and measure indicators of social cohesion
  • Early Warning Systems to respond and prevent violence against foreigners and ‘outsiders’
  • Role of civil society in providing access to justice to foreign nationals (Unaccompanied Minors and SGBV in Musina & Somali Migrants Traders)

Below are the abstracts of the various reports that the discussions were based on.

1. ‘Elusive Justice: Somali Traders’ Access To Formal And Informal Justice Mechanisms In The Western Cape’
Somali-run shops have suffered disproportionately from crime that includes robberies, looting, orchestrated arson attacks and murders organised by competing South African traders. This report explores these crimes in the Western Cape and identifies the many obstacles that Somali victims face when they try to access both formal and informal
justice systems. The report also makes number of recommendations aimed at improving access to justice for foreign traders.

2. Preventing xenophobic and other ‘anti-outsider’ violence: The Early Warning Index
Violence against foreign nationals in South Africa, including murder, injuries, threats of mob violence, looting and the destruction of residential property and businesses, did not end with the xenophobic attacks of May 2008. Instead, it has become a regular feature of informal settlements across the country. Attacks on non-nationals continue to be reported resulting in rising cases of murder, injuries, threats of mob violence, looting and the destruction of residential property and businesses, as well as mass displacement. The early warning index identifies risk factors and areas within the country to assist government and civil society institutions in responding to and preventing violence against foreign nationals and other ‘outsiders.’

3. ‘Promoting Social Cohesion and Countering Violence against Foreigners and other ‘Outsiders’: A study of social cohesion interventions in fourteen South African Townships’
Much of the group-on-group and interpersonal violence in South Africa has been concentrated in urban and Peri-urban communities with high levels of diversity, mobility and informal housing. On-going migration flows, both from within South Africa and from across its borders, further increase existing cultural, linguistic, and class diversity.. Based on research conducted in 14 townships across the country, this report identifies strengths and weaknesses of institutions and initiatives related to building social cohesion in these contexts in order to inform and improve future social cohesion interventions and campaigns.

More information on the research can be found at: www.migration.org.za.

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