Tag Archives: Background

Introducing Michael Hausfeld – Litigator and Human Rights Defender

5 Jul

The Khulumani Red Card Campaign has two major components: advocacy and campaigning in South Africa and across the world (as carried out on this blog, for example); and the actual legal battles in the New York courtroom. While we head things up here, we thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to our ‘man on the ground’ in New York, the exceptional lawyer Michael Hausfeld, and his firm Hausfeld LLP.

Hausfeld has a long history of work in the field of human rights – on a domestic US-level as well as internationally. He tried the first case that established the principle that sexual harassment was a form of discrimination prohibited under the US Title VII laws. In 1989 he represented the Native Alaskans who were horrifically affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, where he negotiated a $176-million settlement from Texaco Inc. He later successfully represented a class of Holocaust victims whose assets were retained by private Swiss banks during and after WWII; and separately represented the Republics of Poland, Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation on issues of slave and forced labour for both Jewish and non-Jewish victims of Nazi persecution.

His firm, Hausfeld LLP, describes its work as follows: “Hausfeld LLP is a global claimants firm founded on a very simple yet largely unmet premise: global wrongs must be accountable to global rights. With unique global resources, unlimited creativity and steadfast integrity, we seek to achieve unprecedented results on behalf of citizens and corporations involved in large and complex disputes that touch every corner of the globe and impact every industry and population.”

Hausfeld and his incredible international team have been an excellent example of a legal team that are dedicated to standing for justice, accountability and most importantly making a tangible positive difference to the lives of the people on whose behalf they work. As Hausfeld writes:

“The U.S. law under which the [Khulumani] case is proceeding—the Alien Tort Claims Act—provides a place for foreign nationals to bring cases against U.S. citizens or other foreign nationals for violations of customary international law, including gross human rights abuses.

The Defendants in the case…have opposed being held to account for their conduct in the U.S. court. When, however, they were given the opportunity in South Africa to tell the truth about their participation in Apartheid and their relationship with its enforcement through terrorist type behavior, they failed to do so. Now they do not want to be held accountable in a court of law in a country in which most of them are citizens or in which they routinely do business. What they are really saying is that they should not be responsible to anyone, for anything, at anytime, anywhere.

Human rights abusers should not dictate where, when, and to whom they are accountable.  They cannot silence their victims or camouflage their misconduct by disappearing, shutting down or foreclosing all legitimate avenues of inquiry. Those who have been wronged have rights.  Those who have done wrong have responsibilities.”

Show the Red Card to Corporate Abuses!

7 Jun

Welcome to the Khulumani Support Group Red Card Campaign headquarters. Over the next 5 weeks this blog will take you on a journey into the various aspects of the so-called ‘Apartheid Litigation’ against five multinational corporations that are charged with aiding and abetting the commission of apartheid gross human rights violations. For the quick and easy answer to all your questions, check out the Frequently Asked Questions section of this blog.

The case in question has been undertaken by the Khulumani Support Group, a South African social movement with 55,000 members across all races, rural, urban, rich and poor who have all been affected by the gross human rights violations of the apartheid-era. While South Africa celebrates hosting the world this month, Khulumani celebrates the victories it has had on the long road of the lawsuit, and calls for support from people across the globe to stand up for corporate accountability. Let us show the corporations that now sponsor football teams in the World Cup that we demand accountability for their sponsorship of apartheid abuses!

During this month we’ll shine a spotlight on some of the plaintiffs in the case, the corporations in question, and some of the bigger issues of reconciliation and reparations in South Africa. We also profile the work of our members and their continued struggles for human rights and dignity; as well as their actvities at the Soweto-based Khulumani People’s Justice Fan Centre. Finally, this is your place to hear that latest fantastic tunes from a local and international Hip Hop collective’s awesome album produced specifically for the red card campaign: Niet vir Niet/Nothing for Nothing.

Join us in this global people’s movement for justice and corporate accountability!