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Wed Aug 31 08:19:22 SAST 2016

SA's commitment to human-rights 'dubious'

TMG Digital | 08 March, 2016 00:49
File photo.
Image by: Lisa Hnatowicz / Gallo Images / Foto24

The SA Human Rights Commission has issued a damning critique of the state of human rights in the country.

South Africa's commitment to human rights was of concern, with many people - including women, children, prisoners, indigenous people, foreigners and protesters - suffering abuse, the commission said in a note to the UN Human Rights Commission yesterday.

"South Africa's commitment to upholding its obligations under international law is dubious," the commission said. "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."

It said racism was widespread across South Africa and there was a high level of xenophobic attitudes towards foreigners, migrants and asylum seekers. These factors worsened the plight of black women living in poverty.

The commission said it was concerned about the rights of indigenous people. "Indigenous persons, such as the Khoisan, have been historically under-represented in South Africa's parliament."

The commission was "extremely concerned with the high levels of violence against women and [lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex] persons", and urged the government to "adopt an integrated plan to address gender-based violence". Regarding prisoners, the commission noted "instances of torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment", as well as "treatment of persons deprived of their liberty".

It also pointed to the treatment of foreigners at Lindela Repatriation Centre who had been held for more than 120 days without a warrant.

Juvenile justice was another concern, and the commission requested the government to "report on measures taken to ensure children in conflict with the law are placed separately from children in need of care".

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