File picture - for illustration purposes only
File picture - for illustration purposes only

UNHRC asked to probe SA rights abuses

By Emsie Ferreira Time of article published Mar 7, 2016

Share this article:

Cape Town – The South African Human Rights Commission has asked the UN Human Rights Committee to look into rights violations in the country ranging from xenophia to gender-based violence.

In a statement on Monday that was highly critical of the South African government’s track record on human rights, the SAHCR also flagged prison conditions and “the disproportionate use of force exercised by law enforcement officials during protests”.

It said a country report submitted to the UN office by the South African government was both inadequate and some 14 years overdue. South Africa ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1998.

“Despite its lateness, much of the information contained in the report was outdated. The delay in submitting reports under UN treaty bodies comes at a time when South Africa’s commitment to upholding its obligations under international law is dubious,” the SAHRC said.

The chapter nine institutions cited the South African government’s controversial failure last year to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity stemming from the conflict in Darfur.

“Just last year, the South African government overrode a decision of a High Court, as well as a request of Justice Cuno Tarfussor, a judge of the International Criminal Court, to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. These occurrences are worrying for a human rights institution seeking to promote the domestic harmonisation of international laws and standards in South Africa.”

The SAHRC asked the UN office to take a number of steps, including that it urge the Pretoria goverment to develop a strategy to address all gender based violance and to ring-fence funding to ensure plans to protect Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) from discrimination is implemented.

Expressing concern over xenophobia, in particular statements by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini last year alleged to have encouraged a spate of deadly attacks on foreigners, it called on the UNHRC to press South Africa to “speedily finalise the National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances”.

The SAHRC also asked the United Nations to demand that South Africa inform it of steps taken to ensure that the rights of asylum seekers and refugees are respected, noting that it went to court in 2014 after finding that 39 people were held at the Lindela Repatriation Centre for four times longer than the law allows.

“The individuals were detained for over 120 days without a warrant,” it said.

“In light of this, the SAHRC requests the Committee to call upon the South African Government to provide information regarding steps taken to ensure that the rights of non-nationals entering the country are fully protected, particularly when individuals are detained.”

Turning to prison conditions, it noted the report last year by Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron on Pollsmoor, which deplored unsanitary conditions, disease and over-crowding, which at that point was at 300 percent.

“Noting the very worrying report of the Constitutional Court, the SAHRC recommends that the committee call upon the South African government to provide up-to-date information regarding steps currently being taken to address the issues laid out in the report, and to address issues of overcrowding and conditions in correctional centres across the country.”

African News Agency Use IOL’s Facebook and Twitter pages to comment on our stories. See links below.

Share this article: