A5I hosted a workshop on the prevention and eradication of torture in South Africa

On 8 and 9 July, the Article 5 Initiative (A5I) hosted its fourth consultative workshop on the prevention and eradication of torture in South Africa. CSPRI is one of the four partners of A5I, a four-year project aimed at developing monitoring tools for the domestication of the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT).

The tools are aimed at all relevant stakeholders playing a role in the implementation of UNCAT, including government officials, national human rights institutions, civil society organisations, and international and regional oversight bodies. They have been published and are available on the A5I website (www.A5I.org). The project was implemented in six African countries, namely Burundi, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda.

The South African workshop was aimed at identifying the main challenged and developing opportunities for reform in domesticating UNCAT, and more specifically in implementing the Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Act 13 of 2013 and amending the Act where it is not compliant with UNCAT.

The first day started with keynote speeches by Mr Robert McBride, Executive Director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and Mr Umesh Raga, Head: Legal Services at the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS). They both outlined their respective oversight institutions mandates and identified some of the key challenges that they face.

These were followed by two panel discussions during which various experts outlined what they saw as key challenges in preventing and eradicating torture in their areas of expertise. The policing panel included Dr Steven Afonso, a forensic pathologist at Stellenbosch University, Dr Elaine Bing, a psychologist specialising in perpetration of torture, Mr Robert McBride, and Gareth Newham, Head of the Governance, Crime and Justice Division at the Institute for Security Studies. The correctional services panel included Ms Annah Moyo, researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Mr Egon Oswald, attorney in Port Elizabeth, specialising in defending alleged human rights violations suffered by inmates, Mr Umesh Raga, Ms Carolyn Raphaely, journalist at the Wits Justice Project, and Ms Britta Rotmann, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Remand Detention at the Department of Correctional Services.

The second day was aimed at taking the challenges identified during the first day forward and at identifying opportunities for reform and for legislative implementation. A draft Plan of Action had been developed at the 3rd A5I workshop, and was used to lead the conversation, which provided many specific actions that organisations, institutions and Departments, represented or not, could take in implementing the Plan of Action, and ultimately UNCAT.

Fifty-one delegates representing 29 organisations attended the workshop. Government and oversight institutions were very well represented, with large delegations from the Department of Correctional Services, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services and the South African Human Rights Commission attending. The debates were open, frank, respectful and solution-driven.cspri pic 2.jpg