UN Human Rights Committee publishes concluding observations on South Africa

The UN Human Rights Committee published its concluding observations following South Africa's review in March 2016. Key points raised in the Alternate Report coordinated by CSPRI were among the concluding observations.

The UN Human Rights Committee is the body mandated to oversee the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in states party to the Covenant, including by making recommendations (or "concluding observations").

Civil society may submit Alternate Reports in response to reports by States. CSPRI hosted a workshop and coordinated the submission of a combined Alternate Report. The Alternate Report was jointly written by CSPRI, Just Detention International,Lawyers for Human Rights, and NICRO. CSPRI also submitted a Summary Report detailing cross-cutting themes raised in five Alternate Reports.

The Alternate Report covered issues of arbitrary arrest and detention; lengthy pre-trial detention; delays in bail applications; torture and other ill-treatment by police and prison officials; impunity enjoyed by such officials; violence, including sexual violence, in detention; solitary confinement (or "segregation") including in super-maximum prisons; conditions of detention; inequality in access to justice; oversight, transparency and accountability of law enforcement agencies, and services to perpetrators.

The Summary Report covered a lack of functional implementation and efficiency of laws and policies, a lack of transparency and effective oversight over government action, and remaining entrenched forms of discrimination.

In its concluding remarks, the UN Human Rights Committee affirmed a number of the issues raised in these Alternate and Summary Reports, including:

  • Challenges faced by oversight bodies in terms of budget limitations, lack of institutional independence from supervised government departments, and limited mandates and powers

  • Conditions of detention due to overcrowding and segregation measures imposed

  • Absence of a right of civil redress and remedy for victims of torture

  • Excessive and disproportionate use of force by law-enforcement officials.

The Committee called upon the South African State to implement a range of recommendations to remedy these concerns.











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