South Africa: Torture Persists Despite Law

The United Nations (UN) torture prevention experts have urged the South African government to fully comply with international obligations to prevent torture.

Development Diaries reports that the call came at the end of the first visit to South Africa by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT).

The SPT monitors countries’ adherence to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), which has so far been ratified by 92 countries.

The SPT is made up of 25 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world.

Head of the delegation to South Africa, Abdallah Ounnir, said there was an urgent need for South Africa to fully establish a national preventive mechanism, according to the commitment it made four years ago and in full compliance with the Optional Protocol.

It is understood that in South Africa, torture happens in police cells, correctional services, other places of detention, on the streets, and in some cases, in people’s private spaces.

Emphasising the need for change, Ounnir noted that the high number of remand detainees and overcrowding in detention places reflect deficiencies in the criminal justice system and the judiciary.

He added that the delegation received allegations of corruption within facilities, and observed entrenched inhuman practices, ill-treatment, and poor detention conditions.

By virtue of the Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Act 13 of 2013, torture is a recognised crime in South Africa and perpetrators of this specific crime can be
charged, tried and prosecuted under this Act.

The country, which ratified OPCAT in March 2019, is therefore obligated to take measures to prevent and combat torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Development Diaries calls on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS) and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to take further actions in monitoring, investigating and preventing torture in the country.

We also call on the country to ensure that section 12 of its constitution, which provides that no one should be tortured, treated, or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading manner, is respected.

Source: OHCHR

Photo source: BBC


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