Parliament has two years to rectify the Correctional Services Act to establish sufficient structural independence for the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)
Parliament has two years to rectify the Correctional Services Act to establish sufficient structural independence for the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Concourt gives Parliament two years to establish structural independence for JICS

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Dec 9, 2020

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Cape Town - The Constitutional Court has given Parliament two years to rectify the Correctional Services Act (CSA) to establish sufficient structural independence for the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS).

The case began in December 2016 when Sonke Gender Justice approached the Western Cape High Court asking it to rule that certain sections of CSA are unconstitutional insofar as they fail to guarantee independence for the JICS.

Head of the penal reform programme at Lawyers for Human Rights, Clare Ballard said: “The Constitutional Court’s majority judgment, written by Justice Theron, grounds its findings within the context of the prisoners’ rights and the duties placed on the state by the Bill of Rights in this regard.”

“It is a thorough, well-reasoned judgment that tracks the evolution of prisoners’ rights and the fundamental importance of liberty and dignity in determining the robust protection oversight bodies are to provide,” said Ballard who represented Sonke in the case.

In her majority ruling Theron said: “The department has unfettered discretion over the judicial inspectorate’s level of funding. A government department should not determine or control the funding of an independent institution like the judicial inspectorate.”

“The judicial inspectorate’s budget is both determined and controlled by the very department over which it is meant to exercise oversight. Such an arrangement is inappropriate for independent institutions,” said Theron.

JICS spokesperson Emerantia Cupido said the institution was not ready to comment just yet.

Cupido said: “We will be sending out another statement in next week which will shed more light on the process and impact this has. We need to study the judgement first.”

Cape Argus

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