The Socio-Economic rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the hate speech of the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini which led to the killings of foreign nationals in South Africa.
According to Adetokunbo Mumuni, the executive director of SERAP, the NGO ‘considers the use of speech by the Zulu King to promote hatred and /or incite violence against non- nationals such as Nigerians, particularly in the media as a clear violation of the provisions of the Rome statute of International Criminal Court.
Grave statements by political leaders and prominent people that express discrimination and cause violence against non-nationals cannot be justified under the law. This hate speech generated fear and hatred that created the conditions for violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens. SERAP believes that this has given rise to individual criminal reasonability under the Rome statute of the ICC. The statement of the Zulu King contributed to a climate of fear, demonization and dehumanisation of Nigerians and other African citizens, thus violating their human dignity through humiliation and expulsion from the human community.
In the Mugesera case, the Canadian Supreme Court held that hate speech may constitute persecution, even if it does not result in the commission of acts of violence. In arriving at this conclusion, the court considered that a link was demonstrated between the speech at the issue and the widespread or systematic jurisprudence generally establishes that hate speech not urging an audience to commit imminent violence can constitute persecution.
The government does not have the political will to bring those suspected to be responsible for crimes under international law to justice. Given the complicity /negligence by the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent the violence, killing and discrimination, it is unlikely that the government will take any serious action to bring perpetrators to justice.
‘It is disingenuous to accuse everyone who calls for restructuring as trying to break up the county. History tells us that that kind of cheap blackmail will not work as long as the underlying reasons for the agitations persist.’
‘The biggest challenge seems to be that we seem to be allowing moderate voices on this issue to be drowned out by the reckless utterances of a few rabble rousers on all sides who may be tools in the hands of those who do not wish this country well. These are some of the people who arrogate to themselves the toga of spokespersons of our diverse groups.’
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