No doubt, south Africa’s human rights law is at its best in giving its citizens their required rights, but the United Nations (UN) says the country can do better.
According to a report dished out by the UN’s Human Rights Committee who accessed South Africa, along with six other countries’ commitment to the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), South Africa ought to put more effort in addressing the legal rights of its citizens.
Joining the 168 states that have ratified the ICCPR, it became necessary for South Africa to be reviewed regularly by the committee of 18 international independent experts.
Among the calls made on the state by the committee was for it to continue investigating the events surrounding the government’s failure to comply with an interim high court order that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir be stopped from leaving the country.
The UN committee, which monitors the implementation by states of the (ICCPR) therefore called for better independent investigation of deaths in detention and corporal punishments in homes.
The committee’s report went ahead to call for the police, nurses and doctors to be better trained to deal with domestic and gender-based violence and according to human rights law professor at Wits University Bonita Meyersfeld, redouble its efforts to eradicate racism and xenophobia.
Earlier this month, South Africa was under criticism from Amnesty International over last year’s xenophobic attacks, the way government dealt with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, different scandals in state institutions and excessive use of force by police.
The organisation released its 2015/16 report, which dealt with issues of torture, ill-treatment and excessive use of force by police.
It also looked at “targeted violence against refugees and asylum-seekers resulting in deaths, displacement and property destruction also continued” and mentioned how some ‘scandals’ had affected the country.
“There is nothing surprising here, Meyersfeld, said “But it is important that the committee addressed gender- and sex-based violence”
South Africa became a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1998 but this was the first time the UN committee had reviewed its compliance.
According to Danny Titus, South Africa’s human rights commissioner, the release of the report was a “changing point” in the country’s history. He is however convinced that the south African government was committed to acting on the committee’s recommendations.
He said South Africa had two years to act on the report.
“This report shows that we are not doing too badly but we are not doing great either. On the whole, we have a strong system,” he said.