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Media Statement: Rights to health of Lindela detainees violated - SAHRC

Attention: Editors and Reporters

18th September 2014

The South African Human Rights Commission has released its findings of an investigation into violations of access to health for detainees at the Lindela Repatriation Centre.

The Commission’s investigation was in response to a complaint from non-governmental organisations, Medecins Sans Frontiers, Section 27, Lawyers for Human Rights, People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty, raising concerns about access to, and quality of, health for non nationals detained at Lindela.

These findings are in addition to the judgement obtained against the Department of Home Affairs for the release of persons detained in excess of 120 days at the Lindela Repatriation Centre last month.

In its recommendations the Commission requested release of detained persons who had been extra judicially detained in excess of 120 days. Both the Department of Home Affairs and South African Police Services have also been requested to take steps to secure the protection of human rights of persons who are arrested and detained.

As part of this recent investigation, the Commissions undertook a study together with the Medecins Sans Frontiers and the African Center for Migration and Society.

The investigation revealed that there was a lack of provision for TB testing and isolation of infected persons, and psychological care; availability of condoms and lack of VCT; unavailability of tetanus vaccines; overcrowding in rooms; and time intervals between the serving of the evening meal and breakfast not complying with the time-periods prescribed in the Regulations to the Immigration Act at Lindela.

The Departments of Health and Home Affairs have been issued recommendations to remedy these findings.
In addition the Commission stressed the need for Departments of Home Affairs and DIRCO to take urgent steps for the creation of an independent monitoring mechanism as contained in the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, to undertake frequent monitoring of places of detention over and above the Department’s own duty to monitor these facilities.

In noting the critical role civil society organisations play in strengthening protections for human rights, the Commission also recommended the Department of Home Affairs consult with civil society organisations, and provide it with protocols which will allow civil society organisations access to Lindela.

Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission

Isaac Mangena
Head: Communications
071 884 8273

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