South Africa (CCPR 27-04-2016)
The Committee considered the initial report of South Africa (CCPR/C/ZAF/1) at its 3234th and 3235th meetings (CCPR/C/SR.3234 and 3235), held on 7 and 8 March 2016. At its 3258th meeting, held on 23 March 2016, it adopted the present concluding observations.
B. Positive aspects
- The Committee welcomes the following legislative and institutional measures taken by the State party:
(a) The enactment on 25 July 2013 of the Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Act, which criminalizes torture;
(b) The enactment on 29 July 2013 of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, which came into effect on 9 August 2015;
(c) The enactment of the Child Justice Act in 2008, which took effect on 1 April 2010 and enhances protection for children in conflict with the law;
(d) The adoption of several legislative and institutional reforms aimed at combating violence against women, including the Domestic Violence Act of 2003 and the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007, the re-establishment of specialized sexual offences courts and the establishment of Thuthuzela Care Centres;
(e) The establishment in 2011 of the national task team to counter discrimination and violence against persons based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and the launch in 2014 of the National Intervention Strategy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Sector;
(f) The passing of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act in 1996 and other measures designed to increase access to safe abortion resulting in a significant decrease in maternal mortality and morbidity.
C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations
Protection of human rights defenders
- The Committee is concerned about reports of threats, intimidation, harassment, excessive use of force and physical attacks, some resulting in deaths, by private individuals and police forces against human rights defenders, in particular those working on corporate accountability, land rights and transparency issues, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and HIV activists. It also notes with concern reports about the lack of due diligence of law enforcement officers in protecting human rights defenders, including registering and investigating allegations of human rights violations, and in securing accountability for such violations (arts. 2, 6, 9, 19, 21 and 22).
- The State party should take all measures necessary to protect the rights of human rights defenders to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. It should ensure that police officials receive adequate training regarding the protection of human rights defenders. The State party should also thoroughly investigate all attacks on the life, physical integrity and dignity of these persons, bring perpetrators to justice and provide victims with appropriate remedies.