South Africa - OPCAT Situation
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.
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.