SAHRC makes finding in the National Child Protection Register complaint
16th October 2013For comments email email@example.com [Back]
Attention: Editors and Reporters
The South African Human Rights Commission has found that the Department of Social Development (DSD) has not fulfilled its obligation to comply with the Children’s Act of 2005 in relation to the maintenance and, population of the National Child Protection Register (CPR).
The Commission’s investigation was in response to a complaint received last year. It included a consideration of the accuracy of the CPR as register over a specific period of time, and whether it reflected all the offenders convicted of committing crimes against or involving children. Such persons need to be recorded as being unsuitable to work with or have contact with children.
The Commission found that the failure to properly implement the CPR weakened the framework for the protection of children and resulted in a violation of section 28 of the Bill of Rights. Section 28 states that “every child has the right to be protected from…neglect, abuse or degradation”.
The CPR, was created by law, and calls for the names of persons who are found unsuitable to work with or have contact with children, to be added to Part B of the CPR, to ensure children are protected from such persons.
The unsuitability finding usually results after conviction in criminal proceedings in relation to offences involving children. This includes crimes such as murder, attempted murder, rape, indecent assault or assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm with regard to a child; which are highly prevalent in South Africa.
Once a person’s name is recorded in the register, such persons are prevented from working with or around children. In this way the CPR provides a useful means through which employers are able to vet potential employees, by checking their names against entries on the register.
Three departments were included in the Commission’s investigation. They were: the Department of Social Development as the primary implementer of the Children’s Act, the Department of Women Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) as the oversight department on all matters relating to children, as well as the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ).
Notably, the Commission also recorded that court officials had not been sufficiently trained and capacitated to carry out functions necessary to enable DSD to update the register fully.
The Commission noted that the DSD itself had experienced severe resource constraints which impacted on its ability to fully maintain and implement the register.
The Commission recommended that both the DSD and DOJCD provide it with reports. The DSD is to provide it with an updated CPR and an audit report detailing challenges and needs to ensure that the CPR obligations are properly met before the end of the year.
The Department of Women Children and Persons with disabilities was requested to increase its monitoring of the CPR.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development was requested to develop a comprehensive programme for training and sustained awareness of all relevant Court officials regarding their duties under the Act to facilitate and support the accurate, timely updating of the CPR and to report on interim measures it would put in place to ensure findings were made and submitted to the DSD.
The Commission trusts these recommendations will contribute to strengthening protections for the rights of our children.
Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission
Head: Communications / Spokesperson
071 884 8273a