First review of South Africa by the HR Committee highlights concerns on police violence

The review of South Africa began with a reminder from Committee members that South Africa was originally scheduled to be reviewed in absence of an initial report following a 14-year delay in the submission of this report.    

Serious issues such as racism, treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, police violence, treatment of asylum seekers, and corporal punishment of children were raised by the Committee. There were additional questions around harmful traditional practices, such as ukuthwala (abduction and forced marriage), witchcraft, violence against women and polygamy. The Committee further questioned South Africa on the low number of complaints made under the first Optional Protocol, and measures taken following the Committee decision on the McCallum case of 2010. With regards to asylum, the Government acknowledged the episodes of racist violence against migrant workers. The Committee expressed particular concern regarding independent oversight in places where migrants were being held.

The Human Rights Committee expressed several concerns on the failure to arrest the Sudanese President al-Bashir in spite of the ICC arrest warrant. There were also questions on the Marikana incident and excessive use of force by the police, which had resulted in the deaths of 44 minors.

"The State party should redouble its efforts to prevent and eradicate all manifestations of racism and xenophobia."

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South Africa ready to ratify OPCAT ?

There were broader questions in reference to monitoring mechanisms in places of detention. The South African government expressed its willingness to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) but wished firstly to establish the required National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). The NPM could possibly be hosted by the South Africa Human Rights Commission, and/or the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services, the delegation said.    

Recognition of indigenous peoples

The interactive dialogue between the Committee and the South African delegation also addressed the recognition of the Khoi San people and indigenous languages, as well land restitution for indigenous peoples. According to the Committee, these issues were previously raised by the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples following her visit to South Africa in 2005.

Next Report due by March 2020

The Concluding Observations for which the State should provide information on the implementation within one year, concern:

  • Implementing the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Prevent and eradicate all forms racism and xenophobia
  • Improve conditions of detention

The next (second) periodic report of South Africa should be submitted by 31 March 2020.

 

Photo: Jaxons / Shutterstock.com

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