For Immediate Release: 08 March 2016
Yesterday in Geneva, the Legal Resources Centre made oral submissions on South Africa’s initial state report under article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the Covenant) to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (the Committee) at its 116th session.
The Committee is mandated to monitor states parties’ realisation of the rights under the Covenant, and states parties are required to report periodically. South Africa’s initial report was filed 14 years late.
The LRC’s submission to the Committee, which included the presentation of a statement and responses to questions from the Committee, focused on the following four issues:
- The prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and treatment of persons deprived of their liberty (articles 7, 9 and 10 of the Covenant);
- The protection of human rights defenders (articles 2(3), 9 and 19 of the Covenant);
- The right to private communications (articles 17 and 19 of the Covenant); and
- The right to participate in public life and the rights of minorities (articles 25 and 27 of the Covenant).
The LRC also participated in the preparation of joint written submissions focusing on the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and stateless persons, and the rights of transgender and intersex persons.
In addition to the substantive concerns raised in its submissions, the LRC is also concerned, as a matter of procedure, about the significant delay in the filing of South Africa’s state report. The substantial delay severely hinders the Committee’s ability to monitor South Africa’s compliance with its obligations under the Covenant, and negatively impacts on the extent and quality of the information presented to the Committee.
Additionally, the LRC has noted that, while the state report sets out the legislative and policy measures in some detail, it fails in a number of respects to deal with the practical implementation and actual realisation of the rights for those who the Covenant seeks to protect.
The South African government will be presenting its report, and responding to questions from the Committee, on 7-8 March 2016.
The LRC is represented at the Committee by two of its attorneys, Avani Singh and Michael Power, who worked on the submissions with Wilmien Wicomb, Mandy Mudarikwa and Simone Sonn.