South Africa: Human Rights NGO Raided at Gunpoint
In response to the raid of the Helen Suzman Foundation by an armed group, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Civil society organizations and journalists have previously made allegations that the state is involved in illegally interfering with their work. This latest raid adds to the suspicion that there is a deliberate attempt by individuals in or sections of the state to prevent civil society groups from exercising their constitutional rights,” said Paul Graham, project director for Southern Africa. “We urge the South African government to conduct a rapid and thorough investigation of this crime.”
On Sunday March 19 the Helen Suzman Foundation, a civil society organization that promotes freedom and human rights in South Africa, was burglarized by a yet unidentified group who stole the organization’s documents and computers.
The raid came three days after the Suzman Foundation and the organization Freedom Under Law submitted a court application calling for the suspension of Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza, head of the South African Police Services Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks. The Helen Suzman Foundation also acted as Amicus Curae in the March 15 court case which found the government had acted unlawfully in refusing to arrest Sudanese President Al Bashir during the African Union summit.
South Africa is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, and Free in Freedom on the Net 2015.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.