Magazine article UN Chronicle

Secretary-General, Special Committee against Apartheid State Views on New Pass Laws

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Secretary-General, Special Committee against Apartheid State Views on New Pass Laws

Article excerpt

Secretary-General, Special Committee against Apartheid state views on new pass laws

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar on 23 April cited as an "encouraging development' the removal of South Africa's pass laws, "which had been cause of great suffering and injustice to the South African black population in the past'. If that could be followed by the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners and detainees, as well as the total elimination of the remaining apartheid laws and practices, "considerable progress would have been made towards complying with the demands of Security Council resolution 569 (1985)', he said.

On 2 May, the Special Committee against Apartheid stated it was pleased to learn that all persons detained under South Africa's "pass laws' were to be released and that no new arrests or prosecutions would take place under those "hated' laws. However, serious doubts had been raised by the fact that the passes were to be replaced by an identity document which, although it was to be carried by South Africans of all races, would state the person's race and be monitored by the police.

Chairman Joseph N. Garba (Nigeria) said that it was not clear whether the new arrangements would lead to the free movement of blacks in urban areas or whether new restrictions would be imposed on them in the name of "orderly urbanization'. More than 8 million Africans deprived of their citizenship as a result of "the fictitious independence' of Bophuthatswana, Transkei, Ciskei and Venda would remain excluded from the new system, he said. It was from those "homelands' that migrant workers came to work in urban areas. Those workers would continue to be treated as "foreigners' and required to carry documents to move about freely in the land of their birth.

The powers of the South African police--"notorious for its arbitrariness and brutality'--would be further strengthened by a proposed law introduced on the same day, 23 April, as the pass law announcement. The draft would empower the Minister of Law and Order to impose a state of emergency anywhere he wished. The international community must strongly condemn the legislation and call on Pretoria to cease its war against the majority population in the name of maintaining law and order, he said.

The "homelands system', the Group Areas Act, the Separate Amenities Act and other such laws formed, together with the "pass laws', the pillars of apartheid and provided the legal machinery through which white minority rule and domination were maintained, Mr. Garba stated. Apartheid would begin to be dismantled, he stated, when all such laws were abrogated and when negotiations began among representatives of all population groups to establish a non-racial and democratic society in South Africa. Until that happened, the international community must strengthen and reinforce its pressure on the apartheid regime, he said.

New Zealanders' rugby tour deplored

The Special Committee against Apartheid has deplored the decision of 28 New Zealand rugby players to participate in a series of matches in South Africa.

On 17 April, Acting Committee Chairman Jai Pratap Rana (Nepal) said the Committee was confident that an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders agreed with their Government that "the players represent nothing but their own self-interest' and that "New Zealanders, whatever their view of rugby, cannot lend their support to this selfish act'.

To visit South Africa at "this crucial juncture of the struggle' of South Africans represented "total insensitivity to the moral issues raised by the evil system of apartheid', Mr. Rana said.

Committee welcomes decision of British actors union

On 28 April, Acting Chairman Rana commended, on his own behalf and on behalf of the Committee, the decision by Equity, the British actors union, to instruct its members not to perform in South Africa and to ban British export of all sound and recorded material to South Africa. …

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