SAHRC investigates failure to implement the Child Protection Register
21 January 2013
ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters
The South African Human Rights Commission is in the process of investigating an alleged failure of government departments to implement the National Child Protection Register (CPR).
The (CPR), as established by the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, calls for the names of persons deemed 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
In August 2012 the Commission received a complaint from the Democratic Alliance alleging non compliance by Departmental stakeholders with the CPR. The complainant alleges that the failure to properly implement the CPR in terms of populating and updating the register, results in section 28 of the Bill of Rights which states that “every child has the right to be protected from…neglect, abuse or degradation” being violated.
Section 120(4) of the Children’s Act states that in criminal proceedings, a convicted person must be found unsuitable to work with children when convicted of murder, attempted murder, rape, indecent assault or assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm with regard to a child.
These convictions only occur at district and regional court level and not in the special courts like the Children’s Courts, constituted to deal with other matters relating to children.
The allegation is that the CPR is not an accurate reflection of all the convictions happening through the criminal courts where offenders need to be recorded as being unsuitable to work with or have contact with children.
As part of its investigation, the SAHRC has put these allegations to the Department of Social Development (DSD) 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).
Among other details the SAHRC requested from the above mentioned government departments, includes:
- A copy of the latest updated CPR;
- report from DSD advising amongst others, why the CPR has not properly been populated and updated;
- The frequency and means through which updating is done via different sources of information;
- How the DWCPD has monitored the CPR;
- Whether Regional Court Magistrates have been trained specifically on the Children’s Act, when this training took place, and how many Regional Court magistrates were trained in this regard.
The allegation letters, with the above questions, were sent with a final return date of the 31st of December 2012.
Although the DSD has indicated that a response is underway, the SAHRC has yet to receive same. None of the remaining two departments implicated have responded.
Although the Commission has yet to receive any responses from departments, it is imperative that persons convicted, are prohibited from caring and working with children.
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