South Africa - OPCAT Situation

OPCAT Status

OPCAT signature date
OPCAT ratification date
UNCAT ratification Date
NPM Type

Multiple institutions

NPM Designated

The South African Human Rights Commission to be joined, eventually, by other institutions following legislative reform.

South  Africa  signed the OPCAT on the 20th of September 2006. On the  28th  February  2019,  the cabinet  referred  the  OPCAT  to  Parliament  for ratification. Both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces  approved  ratification  on the  28th of  March  2019. South  Africa  then deposited  the instrument of ratification with the United Nations on the 20th of June 2019. The OPCAT came into effect in South Africa on the 20th of July 2019.

The government of  South  Africa designated  a  multiple  body  NPM  to  be  coordinated and functionally led by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). Under the coordination of the SAHRC, the South African NPM may eventually include other institutions such as the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS), Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), Military Ombud and the Health Ombud, following legislative reforms to ensure that they meet the requirements of OPCAT, particularly in terms of independence.

NPM Structure

The SAHRC will play a coordinating role, including by:

  • Ensuring cohesion of methodology and coordination of work.
  • Promoting collaboration, information sharing, cohesion and good practice between NPM bodies.
  • Convening regular meetings of NPM bodies.
  • Facilitating joint activities between NPM bodies.
  • Liaising and facilitating engagement with international human rights bodies (e.g. SPT, other NPMs)
  • Making joint submissions to international treaty bodies.
  • Representing the NPM with Government and other national actors.
  • Preparing the NPM annual report and other NPM joint publications
  • Make,  in  consultation  with  all  relevant  NPM  bodies,  any  recommendations  to  the Government  that  it  considers  appropriate  on  any  matter  relating  to  the  prevention  of torture  and  other  cruel,  inhuman  or  degrading  treatment  or  punishment  in  places  of detention in South Africa.

The SAHRC will also conduct monitoring where there are gaps in oversight by other NPM bodies, including in relation to immigration detention, police  stations, military  detention  facilities,  and  psychiatric institutions.