/ 24 July 2008

Amnesty berates SA over treatment of refugees

South Africa has violated its obligations under international law in its treatment of refugees at the Glenanda displacement camp, Amnesty International charged on Wednesday.

It called for a full investigation into police using ”excessive force” against refugees.

The organisation condemned the way officials had ”denied access to adequate food” to those who failed to go through the registration process at Glenanda.

”This constitutes a violation of South Africa’s obligations under international law,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

In terms of a government arrangement, residents at the camp who could not produce documents were invited to register their details in exchange for being allowed to stay in the country for six months.

Some residents feared that this would cancel existing agreements with the Department of Home Affairs that secured their right to be in the country.

Amnesty called on the government to uphold its human rights obligations and not forcibly return asylum-seekers and others in need of international protection to the countries they had fled.

Amnesty International condemned the forced removal by police of more than 700 people from the Glenanda camp.

The organisation said the removals placed those affected at imminent risk of expulsion from South Africa.

This followed an incident at the Glenanda site on July 17 in which the police used excessive force against residents, injuring 23 people who were shot at close range with rubber bullets, Amnesty International said.

It called for a full investigation into this incident. — Sapa