February 18, 2005

Pre-World Cup evictions violate rights, says report

Planned evictions aimed at sprucing up Johannesburg before it hosts the 2010 World Cup could leave thousands homeless and worsen a human rights problem in Africa's richest country, a report has shown. Accordingly, authorities in South Africa's commercial hub plan to remove 25.000 people from dilapidated buildings in poverty-stricken inner city areas ahead of the soccer tournament. But the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) said in a report released plans to remove squatters and tenants without providing alternative housing were illegal and constituted "blatant human rights violations". "The City sees informal settlements and inner city slums as blights to be eliminated, in its quest to package Johannesburg as an 'African World Class City'," said the report. "This results in human rights violations and further suffering for large numbers of people who are already locked in a desperate struggle for survival." No-one at the Johannesburg City Council was immediately available for comment.

According to COHRE, the plans amount to gentrification and effectively meant kicking squatters and paying tenants onto the streets without consultation - a breach of international law. "I would have thought that in a place like South Africa, with a history of evicting people from their homes and homelands under apartheid, that they might find a better way of achieving their objectives," COHRE director Scott Leckie stated. According to him, the latest eviction plan still needed formal approval but that it was only a matter of time before evictions began. (Cohre, Geneva)


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