SAHRC has launched an investigation following riots by inmates at Groenpunt Prison
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13th January 2013
ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters
The South Africa Human Rights Commission has initiated an investigation into the inmate riots that occurred at the Groenpunt Correctional Centre in the Free State.
The Commission has been in contact with the Correctional Services officials since the riots broke on the 7th January 2013, and has received full co-operation of the DCS in relation to its requests for responses. The SAHRC is pleased to note that prompt written responses from, the Regional Commissioner of Correctional Services for Free State and Northern Cape, and the Office of the Inspecting Judge at Grootvlei Correctional Centre have been received.
On the 10th January, the SAHRC commissioned an inspector to conduct an inspection-in-loco of the facility after learning with concern that during the riots, several prisoners and warders were injured. The inspection was however deferred to a future date as the Centre is reported to have been declared a crime scene and is under the control of the SAPS.
We have now decided to make a preliminary assessment of all facts and evidence at our disposal to enable us to determine the method and extend of our investigation.
In particular, the SAHRC would like to determine whether human rights violations have occurred before and during the riots, and if so, what appropriate steps need to be taken to redress the violations. The investigation will also consider whether inmates exercised their rights responsibly, and if not, what appropriate steps need to be taken to improve inmate awareness of their rights and corresponding responsibilities.
The Commission is concerned that there appear to be no on-going discussions between the Department of Correctional Services and the inmates or their representatives to try and resolve the grievances that led to these riots.
The Commission intends to work in close collaboration with the DCS and the Office of the Inspecting Judge (OIJ) to ensure that the underlying causes of this unfortunate event are avoided in the future.
SA Human Rights Commission
071 884 8273