Southern Africa: Landmines, 5/20/97

Southern Africa: Landmines, 5/20/97

Southern Africa: Landmines
Date distributed (ymd): 970920
Document reposted by APIC

This posting contains a press statement from the South African Campaign to Ban Landmines, and announcement of a new publication on landmines in Southern Africa from Human Rights Watch.



South African Campaign To Ban Landmines, P.O. Box 32882, Braamfontein, South Africa 2017 (Tel: 27-11-403-4204; Fax: 27-11-4722380; E-mail: AFRICAN CAMPAIGNS URGE GOVERNMENTS TO BAN LANDMINES, CLEAR THEM, HELP SURVIVORS, SIGN BAN TREATY

Conference Towards a Landmine-Free Africa: The OAU and the Legacy of Landmines, 19 - 21 May, World Trade Centre, Johannesburg

Johannesburg, 16 May, 1997

As the first comprehensive government-sponsored conference on landmines in Africa kicks off on 19 May in Johannesburg, African activists are calling on their governments to show moral leadership by taking unilateral steps to ban antipersonnel landmines and by pledging publicly to participate in the negotiations leading to the signing of an international ban treaty in Ottawa in December this year.

Campaigners from 20 countries will attend the conference to advocate for a ban and the destruction of all stockpiles of antipersonnel mines by the year 2000, and to mobilise resources for mine clearance and assistance to survivors and victim's families. Africa is the most mined continent in the world, littered with 50 million of these coward's weapons. And the movement for a ban is rapidly gaining ground. Already 50 African governments have stated their support for the goal of a total ban. "Now is the time for these governments to turn their words into action," said Julio Mapote of the Mozambican Campaign Against Landmines. Campaigns welcome the recent bans of Mozambique and South Africa announced in February and urge other governments to follow suit. The Zimbabwe Campaign to Ban Landmines welcomes the May 15 government policy statement by the Zimbabwean Minister of Defence, ME Mahachi. Noel Stott of the South African Campaign to Ban Landmines (SACBL) said, "we appreciate this first step but hope that Zimbabwe will take further measures for a total ban and commit to signing the Ottawa treaty."

Coalitions of NGOs and concerned individuals struggling to ban landmines have mushroomed all over the continent as part of an international movement of over 1000 organisations in over 50 countries working for an immediate and total ban. Representatives of national campaigns gathering in Johannesburg from the SADC region will urge their governments to create a mine-free zone in Southern Africa, the third in the world, before December. "Given the dramatic momentum witnessed world-wide, and in our region, it is no longer a dream to envision a mine-free Southern Africa, as an example for the rest of the continent, and world," said Graca Machel. The South Africa Campaign to Ban Landmines will use the conference to protest "double-dippers", companies who formerly produced mines and now make profits from clearing them. According to the South African Campaign To Ban Landmines' Penny McKenzie: "it is completely immoral that companies make money out of clearing up the mess that they made in the first place! We believe demining contracts should go to humanitarian demining organisations. The profits from demining should go into rehabilitation projects and not back into the arms industry."


* Monday 19 May, 14h00: inaugural speakers include Deputy-President Thabo Mbeki, OAU sec-gen Dr Salim Salim, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jody Williams (coordinator of the International Campaign To Ban Landmines);

* landmine survivors action: at opening ceremony;

* Tuesday 20 May, 13h00: book launch, Still Killing - Landmines in Southern Africa, by Alex Vines of Human Rights Watch;

* Wednesday 21 May, early morning: "Big Bang" - destruction of 25% of SA mine stocks; * 13h00: NGO press conference;

* 16:30: closing ceremony; with Minister of Defence, Joe Modise;

* international and African survivors, deminers, campaigners and legal experts available for interviews.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT SACBL'S SUE WIXLEY At + 11 339 2560/81 (w) or +11 486 0168 (H) or 083 302 7670 (CELL).

Ban Landmines * Clear Landmines * Help Survivors * Sign the Ban Treaty


Human Rights Watch 485 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10017-6104 TEL: 212/972-8400 FAX: 212/972-0905 E-mail: 1522 K Street, N.W. Washington D.C. 20005 TEL: 202/371-6592 FAX: 202/371-0124 E-mail:

Website Address: Gopher Address: gopher:// Listserv instructions: To subscribe to the general HRW e-mail list (to receive press releases and public letters concerning all regions of the world), send an e-mail message to with "subscribe hrw-news" in the body of the message (leave the subject line blank). To subscribe to the sub-Saharan Africa-specific list (to receive press releases and public letters only on sub-Saharan Africa), send a message to with "subscribe hrw-news-africa" in the body of the message (leave the subject line blank).

Human Rights Watch Calls for Mine Free Zone in Southern Africa

May 20, 1997

At a major landmines conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, Human Rights Watch is calling for a region-wide ban on use, production, stockpiling and trade in antipersonnel landmines. Still Killing: Landmines in Southern Africa, released today, is the most comprehensive book ever on the impact of landmines throughout southern Africa and the efforts to eliminate that indiscriminate killer of civilians.

"The people of southern Africa live in the most heavily mined region in the world, and suffer the most from this insidious weapon," said Alex Vines, author of the 224-page report. While there is clear momentum toward a ban in the region, now is the time for these governments to take unilateral steps to prohibit use and destroy stockpiles of antipersonnel mines," said Vines.

Many of the governments in southern Africa have publicly called for a total ban on antipersonnel mines, including Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. However, thus far, only South Africa and Mozambique have officially banned use. Human Rights Watch is also calling on all governments in the region to join the approximately sixty governments (including South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Swaziland) that have already committed to signing a comprehensive ban treaty in Canada in December 1997.

Human Rights Watch reveals that southern Africa is infested with some twenty million mines, more than any other region in the world. Mines have claimed over 250,000 victims since 1961. Only some 400,000 mines have been removed since serious clearance operations began in 1991. Mines continue to be laid in Angola and Mozambique by government and opposition forces, as well as criminal elements, albeit in much smaller numbers than in the past. In 1996 landmines were available in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia in exchange for food or second-hand clothing. Mines can be bought in South Africa for as little as U.S.$25.

Sixty-seven types of antipersonnel mines from twenty-one countries have been found in southern Africa. These countries are: Austria; Belgium; China; Cuba; former Czechoslovakia; France; former East Germany; former West Germany; Hungary; Israel; Italy; Portugal; Romania; former Soviet Union; South Africa; Spain; Sweden; United Kingdom; United States; former Yugoslavia; and Zimbabwe.

At least two countries in southern Africa have produced and exported antipersonnel landmines--South Africa and Zimbabwe. In 1997 both nations pledged no further production or export. Namibia may also have been a producer, according to U.S. military assessments. A close look at southern Africa's landmine legacy over the last thirty years reveals few, if any, examples where antipersonnel mines have provided significant or lasting military advantages. The use of antipersonnel mines has provided short-term military advantages in some cases, but often at tremendous cost to civilians and in contravention of humanitarian law.

Human Rights Watch urges all governments in the region to adopt national policies, supported by legislation, to immediately prohibit the use, production, import and export of antipersonnel mines. Plans should be formulated and implemented to destroy existing stockpiles of antipersonnel mines as rapidly as possible, but no later than the year 2000. Each state should commit to destruction of emplaced mines as rapidly as possible, and to record, mark, fence, and monitor existing minefields until destruction has taken place. All mines removed from the ground must be destroyed, and not retained for future use or re-sale. Each state should make public detailed information about its antipersonnel mine stockpiles and minefields.

The governments of southern Africa should take the lead in implementing the Organization of African Unity resolutions calling for a total ban on antipersonnel mines in Africa. The governments of southern Africa should actively support the diplomatic initiative known as the "Ottawa process," by participating in preparatory meetings in Belgium and Norway, and being prepared to sign an international treaty banning antipersonnel mines in Canada in December 1997.

Copies of the report are available from the Publications Department, Human Rights Watch, 485 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017 for $ 18.00 (domestic) and $ 22.50 (overseas). Visa and MasterCard accepted.

Human Rights Watch Arms Project

Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization established in 1978 to monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized human rights in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and among the signatories of the Helsinki accords. Its Arms Project was established in 1992 to monitor and prevent arms transfers to governments or organizations that commit gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and the rules of war and promote freedom of information regarding arms transfers worldwide. Joost R. Hiltermann is the director; Stephen D. Goose is the program director; Zahabia Adalamy, Andrew Cooper, and Ernst Jan Hogendoorn are research assistants; Rebecca Bell is the associate; William M. Arkin, Kathi L. Austin, Ann Peters, Monica Schurtman, and Frank Smyth are consultants.


From: Message-Id: <> Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 07:13:13 -0500 Subject: Southern Africa: Landmines

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific