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African Union Commission (AUC) 25/08/2011 09:11 GMT Consultation on preparations for the year of shared values (2012) (25.8.2011)
(Media Articles)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, August 25, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Department of Political Affairs (DPA) of the African Union Commission (AUC) held a retreat on the preparations for the Year of Shared Values of the AU in Nazareth on 22-24 August 2011. The retreat comprised participants from AUC, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) , The Governance and Public Administration Division of Economic Commission of Africa (ECA-GPAD), International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), All Africa Ministerial Conference on Decentralization and Local Development (AMCOD), Conference of African Ministers of Public Service Secretariat (CAMPS Secretariat), the Department for International Development (DFID), The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA), and experts.

 

The main recommendations from the meeting are as follows:

 

• The adopted log frame and work plan for the year of Shared Values should be finalized by DPA-AUC and circulated to stakeholders.

• DPA-AUC should assume primary responsibility of coordination and coherence.

• DPA-AUC to designate focal points to sustain communications and ensure coordination with partners and other stakeholders.

• DPA-AUC to submit bi-monthly progress reports on implementation of the work plan beginning September 2011.

• Different constituencies across the continent will be mobilized in support of the Shared Values agenda.

• DPA-AUC to organize wider consultations with AU organs and institutions, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other stakeholders on Shared Values in November 2011.

• In support of Shared Values agenda, particularly for the Year of Shared Values, partners should provide resources specifically for realizing outputs and outcomes.

• UN Agencies through the Governance Cluster to mobilize support towards the implementation of the Year of Shared Values.

• DPA-AUC and key partners to undertake quarterly reviews of implementation of the work plan. An interdepartmental steering committee within AUC on Shared Values should be established.

 

At the workshop's closing ceremony, Dr. Mamadou Dia, Head of the Division of Governance, Human Rights and Elections (DGHRE) at the AUC said “collective responsibility to everybody in our society will be informed and shaped by how much we together construct a sense of common identity and destiny based on the re-affirmation of our very own cherished African values fully entrenched within the ethos of democracy and governance.

 

He noted that the expected outcomes of the meeting have been achieved by finalising the consultations and logframe for the year of Shared Values.

Star Africa.com

SACTJ comments draft regulations Department of Justice - Reparations
(Media Articles)

SACTJ SUBMISSION TO DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

REPARATIONS REGULATIONS

 

The South African Coalition for Transitional Justice released the following submission at a press conference on 8 June 2011

 

On 11 May 2011, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development gazetted regulations for the payment of educational assistance and health benefits exclusively to victims identified by the TRC. The regulations were gazetted after only a very superficial consultation process with victims and other stakeholders and do not address the key concerns expressed by these stakeholders.   

 

The South African Coalition for Transitional Justice submits the following comments regarding the May 11, 2010 General Notice 282 published in the Government Gazette.  The SACTJ consists of the Khulumani Support Group, Centre for the Study of Violence & Reconciliation, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Human Rights Media Centre, South African History Archives, International Center for Transitional Justice, Freedom of Expression Institute and the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture.

Executive Summary of the submission

The Coalition objects to the Notice 282 regulations on procedural, constitutional, and international law grounds. The Coalition’s first main objection is the failure of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ) to meaningfully involve victims in the conceptualisation and drafting process. All victims have the right to public participation, and despite their substantial efforts to engage with government over the past twelve years, they have consistently been denied any meaningful opportunities to participate and partner with government.

The Coalition’s second main objection is the failure of the DoJ to extend these educational and medical benefits to all victims of gross human rights violations, as contemplated in the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act of 1995 (the TRC Act or the Act)—the enabling law behind these regulations. This closed list policy is inconsistent with the plain and just interpretation of the Act. The Act contains no provisions that support a closed list of victims eligible for reparations; it only stipulates the type of harm that a person must have suffered in order to be considered a victim. Furthermore, the closed list policy conflicts with the purpose of the Act, which seeks to rehabilitate and restore the human and civil dignity of victims.

Moreover, our Constitution promotes social, economic and community rights. This closed list policy is contrary to the Constitution preamble, which commits to healing the divisions of the past and establishing a society based on social justice. It is also contrary to the Constitution section 1 values of accountability, responsiveness, and openness. A closed list policy is offensive to victims’ constitutional right to equal protection under the law. The DoJ’s differentiation between victims bears no rational connection to any legitimate government purpose.  It moreover amounts to unfair discrimination since it impairs the fundamental human dignity of thousands of victims who are not on the closed list.

Further, the failure to extend reparations to all victims of apartheid violates South Africa’s obligations under international law, reflected in a number of human rights instruments that South Africa has ratified. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that every person who has been a victim of gross human rights violations is entitled to an effective remedy. South Africa lags behind countries such as Brazil, Peru, Guatemala, and Sierra Leone, which have established ongoing victim registration procedures. Other countries such as Argentina and Chile have repeatedly extended or reopened victim registration procedures.

The Coalition is also concerned that the many unnecessarily complicated administrative procedures contained in the Notice 282 regulations will potentially render the proposed assistance inaccessible to many.

Therefore, the Coalition respectfully submits the following comments and  recommendations, including: that the DoJ undertake an open and transparent process of consultation and dialogue with civil society to revise the Notice 282 regulations so as to be more responsive to victims’ needs; that the DoJ allow all those who are victims of gross human rights violations under the criteria specified in the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act to access these educational and medical benefits; that the DoJ establish ongoing victim registration procedures and take affirmative steps to register all victims of gross human rights violations.

 

(Attached is the full submission in pdf 369KB)

 

The South African Coalition for Transitional Justice

The SACTJ is an umbrella body of organizations working to advance the rights of victims of past conflicts and to hold the South African government accountable to its obligations.   The member organisations are committed to helping secure the rights of victims of apartheid-era human rights violations, raising awareness about these rights and holding government accountable to its obligations.    The Coalition focuses on issues that impact the rights of victims of apartheid-era abuses including pardons, prosecutions, reparations and disappearances.

South Africa’s experience confronting the legacies of apartheid has played a ground breaking role in the development of the field of transitional justice. However, South Africa has to date failed to provide accountability in many deserving cases or to deliver adequate reparations to victims who sacrificed so much for the liberation of the country.  While the promulgation of these regulations does reflect at long last an acknowledgment on the part of government that action is needed on the question of reparations, these proposals are seriously defective in many respects.

 

For more information, please call:

 

Dr Marjorie Jobson                         Khulumani Support Group           082 268 0223

Ms Nomarussia Bonase                 Khulumani Support Group           082 751 9903

Ms Shirley Gunn                               Khulumani Support Group           082 450 9276

 

 

'Disappointed’ at no magic wand to wave away crime (15.11.10)
(Media Articles)

MEMBERS of Parliament’s police committee, the new Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotyu and police secretariat officials pronounced themselves disappointed this week when the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s report on why crime in South Africa is so violent was released.

They clearly all wanted a magic wand from the academics – David Bruce and Adele Kirsten – who compiled the study, and there wasn’t one. Indeed, after a particularly robust engagement, Bruce told the committee that worldwide there had been many studies done on violent crime and no one had yet come up with an answer.

Committee chairman Sindi Chikunga and Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald wanted to know why crime in South Africa was so often accompanied by hideous cruelty. They said the study had failed to find an explanation as to why victims of crime are so often tortured.Indeed, this is a good question. The study reported that the history of structural violence inherent in the way in which colonialism and apartheid worked lay at the heart of the matter.

I suppose the idea is that if you are the victim of institutional violence simply because of your race then it legitimises violence on a personal level.Also, people would have observed brutal state action from police and other departments where there were no consequences. In short, impunity.Also connected to violent crime in the study were things like poverty, education, the destruction of family structures through the migrant labour system and, curiously, the abuse of alcohol by young mothers – often accompanied by domestic violence. Still further reinforcement.

While accepting the bona fides of the research done, it would be nice if the further research which the CSVR said was ongoing could provide answers to some of the questions. For example, there are places in the world where there is far more poverty than in South Africa but where there is less violent crime.It would also be interesting to find out what role is played by the fact that South Africa negotiated its revolution rather than fighting to the end. Is there a sort of feeling that violence is justified because there were no real winners and losers in the revolution?

There were some startling findings which should sound some alarm bells, one being that more than a third of the perpetrators of violent crime are 19 years and younger. That is truly scary and it points to problems with education and socialisation.

Having said all that, the criticism of the report does seem to be unfair. It is an astonishing piece of work and really does serve the vital function of bringing together what we know about violent crime in the country and putting it in an accessible form in one place.

There have also been complaints that R3.5- million of public money was spent and not much achieved. Also unfair. Anything that contributes to a better understanding of where we are and why we behave as we do is worth every cent.

In The Herald

'Gender machinery' in disarray (25.11.09)
(Media Articles)

Johannesburg - South Africa's "gender machinery" is in "disarray" with it not even being clear who is co-ordinating the 16 Days of Activism campaign, a group of NGOs said on Wednesday.

"At a time when it is most needed, participants noted, the national gender machinery is in disarray," read a statement from Gender Links and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR).

"There is a lack of clarity on which agency is driving the 16 Days of Activism campaign, which used to be housed in the department of local government, following the establishment of the ministry of women, children and disability in April this year.

"The ministry has yet to hold a consultation with civil society organisations. There has also been a deafening silence on the status of the 365 National Action Plan to End Gender Violence adopted in March 2007 and co-ordinated by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA)."

They said there is also still no specific "domestic violence" category which would enable monitoring of the crime. They called on the government to resuscitate the 365 Day National Action Plan to End Gender Violence.

'We can prevent violence'

Their statement followed a three-day symposium convened by the CSVR under the banner "We can Prevent Violence". They also called for the establishment of a special fund to end gender violence, in line with regional and international commitments.

In addition they called on Fifa to use the World Cup 2010 to send out strong messages in support of the campaign to end gender violence as well as HIV/Aids.

They said the 12% increase in reported rape cases to 71 500 from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009 may in part be due to the expanded definition of rape under the new act. The figures are unacceptably high and likely to be understated due to under reporting.

Government was also still "well behind" in reaching the target of 81 one-stop centres for addressing gender violence by 2010 provided for in the National Sexual Assault Policy.

The 16-Days campaign takes place every year from November 25, the International Day of No Violence Against Women.

It runs until December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.

- SAPA

In News24.

'Constitution threatened by populism' (14.11.08)
(Media Articles)

Christelle Terreblanche

Is he an astute politician who speaks to ordinary people's concerns, or a dangerous populist who may be undermining the Constitution? Jacob Zuma's controversial remarks on the pre-election campaign trail that has taken him around the country have left in their wake a number of questions - and while his comments may have hit the right spot with his audiences, constitutional experts and gender rights activists are not amused. The ANC president told a rally in the Western Cape last weekend that truant learners and pregnant teenagers "should be caught and sent to faraway boarding schools by force until they get degrees".

He accused teenaged mothers of abusing the government's child grant and talked about "a war on street kids". He also repeated previous remarks, including one that crime suspects enjoy too many privileges. But since he sensationally pronounced last year that he was willing to reconsider the death penalty, there has been little indication of how he wants to get this past the country's progressive human rights Constitution. The man is certainly playing to his audiences across South Africa's deep social divides. His allegorical, vernacular rally style contrasts sharply with his measured and reasonable utterances last week at the Cape Town Press Club, where his audience was a world apart from the mostly poverty-stricken people who turn up at rallies. Constitutional and human rights experts believe Zuma's campaign approach to be "dangerous" and "populist", one that's testing the limits of the country's Constitution. Some are incensed by Zuma's suggestion that teenaged mothers should be separated from their babies. "There is a complete lack of acknowledgement of the responsibility of the father in any of this. Teenage girls are a nice, easy cheap target and it plays to a conservative populism to bash teenage girls," is the verdict of Lisa Vetten, senior researcher at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women. "Frankly, for the ANC Youth League to have not said anything about this either, just goes to show how much they care about the difficulties that face adolescent girls. Why girls fall pregnant is a lot more complicated than we think." Two legal commentators say they believe aspects of Zuma's statements may be in conflict with the country's Constitution. University of the Western Cape constitutional expert, Professor Pierre de Vos, says if Zuma indeed meant that women should be forcibly sent away for education, he was making them into "criminals" when they were not accused before the law - "even more grave if it is directed at pregnant women". "It is obviously preposterous, because you once again make women the scapegoats and the men (who made them pregnant) get away scot-free. It is the old patriarchal approach," said De Vos. While acknowledging that the scope of teenage pregnancies was a shame to society, Unisa's Professor Shadrack Gutto said the ANC president's solution was not necessarily "child friendly", did not address the root causes of the problem and "from a constitutional legal perspective (was) very problematic". "As a safeguard you should build in the question of development of children," suggests Gutto. "In legal terms, the interests of the child (babies) come first, and critical to that is the interests of the child, for instance, in breastfeeding. "We know breastfeeding is universally acknowledged to be better for the child than other forms of feeding (although) other forms are not necessarily bad for the child." He said in this context, the statement "could violate the constitutional principle of protecting the rights of children" even before considering the interests of the mother. From the child's point of view "the statements are unfortunate and in many ways opposite to the principles of law". "We need proper reflection really on this issue - which is a populist statement not properly thought through," he suggested. But ANC national spokesperson Carl Niehaus believes Zuma has been misunderstood. The comments - often mistranslated - are derived from listening to communities where the problem of teenage pregnancies "means that mothers and grannies then have to look after the children of their children" and teenage mothers are stigmatised. Niehaus said Zuma was merely raising real concerns in communities that beg for a response from the government. He said that when teenagers leave a community to give birth, they are seldom welcomed back "because there is a kind of social sanction". "It is first of all not an attitude to let men walk off scot-free. It is important that young men are also kept responsible. The suggestion is not at all to withdraw the children by force, but where possible for them to be taken into a new community where they will be able to grow with the children," he explained. On the ANC president's statements that the rights of criminals should be curtailed, experts argue that this will not solve the underlying problem of weak judicial and police systems that result in offenders walking free. But what it does do is infringe on people's constitutional rights. The constitutional legal basic rights of all persons have limitations, stresses Gutto. "But then to be saying criminals should not have rights, really the ANC president is speaking in a language (that) I think is contrary to our Constitution and the principles of the right to freedom of movement and the rights of expression and freedom of association, which will be severely limited." Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation's senior researcher David Bruce says that while there's evidence that a control-orientated approach to criminal justice is likely to convict more criminals, it also comes at the cost of convicting higher numbers of people who are innocent. Bruce warns that a human rights approach, however, depends on a criminal justice system which is staffed by people who are highly skilled and knowledgeable. South Africa has been struggling to get this right, but all efforts must be exhausted before we start intruding on human rights, he stressed. "Incarceration is a process which brutalises people. We are living in a country that is already severely brutalised. So we need to be very wary of it," he said. De Vos says it's a "typical politician's quick-fix" answer to complex problems in our deeply unequal society. But Niehaus stressed that Zuma had been trying to respond to communities' serious battles against crime and to encourage discussion about whether this could be dealt with "in a tougher way without transgressing the Constitution". Gutto also acknowledges the flip-side - that South Africa offers little for victims of crime. "If you put all those together, you can see where the sentiment is coming from - but the ANC president should not be speaking so loosely." Niehaus denied Zuma was being populist. "It is more about being sensitive to the issues being raised in townships and rural communities where things are really difficult. "These are really issues that I think he is quite right to raise," he stressed.

This article was originally published on page 17 of Cape Argus on November 14, 2008
'No need for court action on shelters' (04.08.08)
(Media Articles)

There was no need for court action to force the Gauteng provincial government to keep open temporary safe sites for refugees and asylum seekers until they were reintegrated into communities, spokesperson Thabo Masebe said on Monday. He was reacting to the announcement that the Wits Law Clinic and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) were bringing an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court. They want the government ordered to communicate and implement a reintegration strategy which protects the rights of all, and to restore and not dismantle the Rifle Range temporary safe site until the reintegration strategy is in place.

"I don't know really what these people are looking for," said Masebe. There was no need for them to take court action, he said. "All they had to do was come to us." More than 62 people died, hundreds were injured and tens of thousands displaced in a wave of xenophobic attacks which started in Alexandra, Johannesburg on May 12 and spread to the rest of the country. The displaced have been housed in temporary shelters set up throughout the province since then. "All the shelters are still open, including the Rifle Range shelter," said Masebe. However, he explained that when people left any of the shelters any excess tents were folded up. Of about 1 700 refugees and asylum seekers at the Rifle Range camp at the height of the crisis, only 250 remained, he said. The rest had left after refusing to accept temporary identity cards from the Department of Home Affairs or finding alternative accommodation in their communities. Elsewhere in the province, there were still about 3 000 occupants of the safe shelters. "It's going down because people are leaving every day," he said, adding that 10 families left the Rand Airport camp on Friday alone. The government's key role had been to create conditions in all communities - starting with those where there was violence - for people to return to their homes, Masebe said. "They should be safe to do so. They should not fear that somebody will attack them again," he said. This had involved talking to the communities, which the provincial government had started in May. "It's not something that starts and stops. It starts and continues," he said. "I don't know what plan they are looking for." Civil society organisations have come out in support of the court action. While the need for legal action was regrettable, it was needed in the absence of the government's formal communication on a reintegration strategy, said the Reintegration Working Group. The group includes representatives of, among others: the Anglican Diocese of Johannesburg; the Somali Community Board; the Refugee Ministries Centre; the Coalition Against Xenophobia; His People Church; the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation; Mthwakazi Arts and Culture; and the Salvation Army. Masebe said the various groups could assist the government as political organisations and community organisations had done from the start. "That process goes on." In addition, the provincial government was talking to displaced people still at the shelters and who could not reintegrate on their own to find out what kind of help they needed. This included assistance with the building of shacks destroyed in the violence - in Ekurhuleni, communities were already helping in rebuilding efforts - or finding alternative accommodation. "There is no way as government, there is no way we are going to keep the shelters on a permanent basis.". The government did not want to create as permanent, separate settlements for foreign nationals, he said, adding that the government would oppose the court action. "It is not properly informed." - Sapa

In the Independent Online

'Crime will rise if Scorpions get canned'
(Media Articles)
Boyd Webb

Police corruption is likely to skyrocket if the Scorpions are closed down, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) stated in a submission to parliament. "The SAPS is already riddled with corruption and is very bad at addressing the issue," CSVR senior researcher David Bruce argued. He said that corruption within the service could only be properly addressed if investigating units, with the "investigative sophistication" of the Scorpions, were allowed to remain independent of the police. The CSVR submission is but one of many which the chairperson of the National Assembly's Safety and Security Committee, Maggie Sotyu, expects to be waiting for her when she return to parliament next Tuesday.

The public has until Monday to make submissions concerning their views on whether the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) should be closed and merged into the SAPS as called for by ANC resolutions passed at its December conference. The CSVR said that while it recognised that there were problems with the way the Scorpions were managed - as highlighted in the Khampepe Commission's report - these should be addressed without dissolving the unit. Closing the unit would do nothing to reduce the risk of the state abusing its power in the future by using similar units for its own political gain, the CSVR argued. "Creating a single agency with a monopoly of investigative powers is more likely to accentuate the problem," the CSVR said. Groups within the ANC along with the ANC's alliance partners have accused President Thabo Mbeki of using the Scorpions to carry out his political agenda against ANC leader Jacob Zuma. Meanwhile the Centre For Constitutional Rights (CFCR) on Wednesday described cabinet's decision to close the Scorpions as "irrational and arbitrary". It added it had a duty to draw attention to "conduct inconsistent with the constitution".

This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on July 24, 2008
'Anti-Scorpions Bill not in public interest'
(Media Articles)
MPs should vote against the current measure before Parliament intended to dissolve the Scorpions, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation said on Wednesday. "... the bills are not in the public interest and should be opposed by members of parliament," the organisation said in its submission to Parliament on the measure. Bringing the Scorpions under the command of the SAPS would expose the investigative unit to political manipulation, corruption and under-performance. "We believe that the envisaged dissolution of the Scorpions will... compound alleged existing weaknesses of the criminal justice system," the centre said. -Sapa In The Star, 23 July 2008
'SA cops still use torture'
(Media Articles)

Brian Indrelunas The government should meet its "international obligation" to criminalise torture, says SA Human Rights commissioner Leon Wessels. He called explicitly outlawing torture "an international obligation" after speaking to representatives of non-profit groups and government departments at a seminar. "We can't just subscribe to the international rhetoric (without) ensuring that torture becomes a statutory crime," he commented. The Constitution lists the right not to be tortured and police policies refer to torture specifically, but "all other policy is devoid of the language", said Lukas Muntingh of the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative. CSPRI and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) hosted on Tuesday's seminar, which explored civil society's role in preventing torture.

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Published on iol.co.za

How others have done it: A desk study of community projects related to torture, Appendix C
(Publications)

Bantjes, Megan. 2011. How others have done it: A desk study of community projects related to torture, Appendix C. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.With the aim of informing CSVR's development of a community work model to address torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, this desk study examines six community projects conducted in South Africa and in other countries. Details of four of the interventions were found in the literature and information about two projects was gathered in interviews with the staff involved. Each intervention is discussed in terms of six questions that have been found useful for thinking about community work (see Questions about community work, Appendix B). The objectives of CSVR’s community work on torture - transformation, prevention and amelioration - provide the framework for considering the implications of each of these projects for CSVR's development of a model.

Future Challenges to Policy-Making in Countries in Transition
(Publications)

Simpson, G., Hamber, B. & Stott, N. (2001). Future Challenges to Policy-Making in Countries in Transition. Presentation to the Workshop Comparative Experiences of Policy Making and Implementation in Countries in Transition, 6th - 7th February 2001, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Lesson Drawing from Negotiated Transitions in Northern Ireland and South Africa
(Publications)

Brocklehurst, H., Stott, N., Hamber, B. & Robinson, G. (2000). Lesson Drawing from Negotiated Transitions in Northern Ireland and South Africa. Prepared for delivery at the 2000 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Marriot Wardman Park, August 31 - September 3.