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Transforming Society

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Restoring Dignity

MEDIA STATEMENT: SAHRC welcomes the announcement by the President to place on parole selected categories of sentenced offenders

Attention: Editors and Reporters 

08 May 2020 

The South African Human Rights Commission (the SAHRC or the Commission) welcomes the announcement by the President of the decision to place on parole selected categories of sentenced offenders.

This is in line with the recent advisory recommendations issued by the Commission under its National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) mandate to the state. These advisory recommendations seek to advance the preventive mandate and are part of an ongoing and constructive dialogue with relevant authorities, providing concrete recommendations to improve the system of deprivation of liberty over the long term.

The declaration of a state of national disaster, in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002, introduced several restrictions on the freedom of movement of persons in the form of a stay-at-home lockdown which has since been extended on a Level 4 Alert basis. The declaration of a national state of disaster equally introduced a suspension of visitation to places of deprivation of liberty such as correctional centres, police cells, for example, and further limitations on those in detention was also declared. Consequently, this has had an impact on those deprived of their liberty with limited capacity to take the necessary precautionary measures. However, the SAHRC has reiterated that these restrictions should never result in torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, including within correctional centres, police station detention cells and other detention facilities, many of which are severely overcrowded and with poor sanitation.

Since South Africa completed the ratification process of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) on 20 July 2019, one of the key strategic focus areas of the SAHRC is to monitor the observance of human rights in places of deprivation of liberty.  At the core of the OPCAT lies the prevention of torture. The NPM for South Africa established under OPCAT is coordinated by the SAHRC and has access to all places of deprivation of liberty. This role is to provide independent monitoring and recommend systemic changes to reduce the risk of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

It is for this reason that, the SAHRC issued some advisory recommendations to the state in an effort to improve conditions of detention and guarantee that persons deprived of their liberty are treated with dignity.

During this time of the national lockdown, the SAHRC urges the state to also ensure that all people who have been arrested for petty offences under the lockdown regulations should be released and warned to appear in court on a future date. This is line with the directions issued by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services in terms of Regulation 10 (2) of the Regulations under the Disaster Management Act.

 

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Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission.

Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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