Saturday, December 3, 2011

Is South African "invasion" of Nigeria illegal?


The Johannesburg Star: headlines with the diplomatic storm, after heavily armed South African police tries to storm the Nigerian Consulate.

The Nigerian officials were accused of stealing the passports of 68 South African citizens after they allegedly refused to pay a bribe. Invasion of a diplomatic station is a serious crime in International law. Nicaragua v USA, is one case where the sovereignty issue was shown costly for a violator of it. Peru v Venezuela, at the ICJ also, however showed that the laws of sovereignty and embassies are limited and complex.

The invasion of "Nigeria" by police, doesn't rank near South Africa holding alleged Rwanda Genocide criminals. That is, diplomatically.

But, the taking of nearly 4 score South African's passports away, is a very serious matter also. Passports are property of the state. Passports are part of citizenship, a constitutional right.

Nigeria swiftly handed back the 68 South Africans' passports, and denied travel visas. Their staff, want the responsible parties for the "invasion" taken to task.

Precedent would say sovereignty is one of the strongest factors in any diplomatic activity. The South African constitution does not allow for the nation to go to war offensively.

The question, if this lands in the ICJ, is this: is the alleged human rights abuse of 68 members of one country by another: adequate justification for violating territory to "rescue" them. Especially, given the fact that Al Qaeda flies on South African passports.

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