Public confidence in government’s willingness to tackle human rights violations has eroded - report

Public confidence in the government’s willingness to tackle human rights violations‚ corruption and disrespect for the rule of law in South Africa has eroded.

This is the conclusion of global NGO Human Rights Watch in its almost 700-page annual report detailing the violations of human rights of more than 90 countries across the globe.

It launched the report with a news release warning of the rise of global populism in which leaders who are xenophobic or against free global trade are elected by marginalised communities.

The news release singles out US President Donald Trump with Human Rights Watch CEO Kenneth Roth saying: “Trump and various politicians in Europe seek power through appeals to racism‚ xenophobia‚ misogyny‚ and nativism. They all claim that the public accepts violations of human rights as supposedly necessary to secure jobs‚ avoid cultural change‚ or prevent terrorist attacks. In fact‚ disregard for human rights offers the likeliest route to tyranny.”

In the report South Africa is criticised for a wide range of issues including the fact no-one has yet been held accountable for xenophobic violence that flared up between March and May 2015.

“Authorities neither thoroughly investigated nor successfully prosecuted those involved in the attacks‚” the report said.

It also notes that King Goodwill Zwelithini never met with foreigners after he was ordered to by the SA Human Rights Commission last year. This was following his comments urging foreigners to pack their bags and go home in 2015.

“During 2016‚ South Africa missed key opportunities to consistently place respect for human rights at the centre of its foreign policy practice‚” says the report

It slammed the fact that South Africa did nothing to support protestors in Zimbabwe and instead Secretary General of the ruling African National Congress Gwede Mantashe called antigovernment protestors “sponsored elements seeking regime change”.

The report notes human right abuses in many African countries‚ including Zimbabwe‚ Mozambique and Ethiopia.

In Zimbabwe:

Journalists are subject to arbitrary arrests‚ harassment‚ and intimidation when reporting on protests.

The report notes that after anti-government protests in July‚ more than 140 people‚ not even involved in protests‚ were arrested and detained on what it calls false public violence charges.

In Mozambique:

The report notes the country has one of highest rates of child marriage in the world with half of all girls marrying before age 18.

It notes that since 2014‚ more than 100 Albinos have disappeared as they face murder and kidnapping due to the use of the body parts in witchcraft.

Since October 2015‚ at least 10‚000 people have fled to neighbouring Malawi and Zimbabwe because of abuses committed by the army and RENAMO fighters‚ who protest against government.

In Ethiopia:

The report noted that the June protests against government led to more than 500 demonstrators in the region of Oromia being killed and tens of thousands of activists arrested with many still behind bars.

Back in South Africa‚ Human Rights Watch also noted that about half-a-million children with special educational needs struggle to get a free education and are turned away from no-fee schools.

Marlise Van Vuuren‚ administrator for NGO deafblind‚ that works with adults who are deaf and blind‚ aid she knew of families that were forced to relocate to Worcester in the Western Cape in order to access high quality schools for deaf or blind people.

Member of the same NGO‚ Phillip Dobson‚also said it is difficult to educate a child with sight and hearing problems as schools have limited resources to accommodate them.

 TMG Digital/The Times