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Statement by the South African National Preventive Mechanism to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

26 June 2022

Attention: Editors and Reporters

Today, 26 June 2022, is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The South African National Preventive Mechanism (South African NPM), established to fulfil South Africa’s international law obligations, solemnly marks this day by noting how the country can do more to discharge its duty to prevent torture and other ill-treatment. 

On 26 June 1987, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force. It is the binding international instrument prohibiting torture – a prohibition that section 12 of our Bill of Rights also entrenches.

This day also marks the third anniversary since South Africa ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). Central to the OPCAT is creating a system of regular, independent visits to places where persons are or may be deprived of their liberty. These regular visits serve as an important safeguard against abuse, torture and other ill-treatment in places that receive insufficient public scrutiny.

South African NPM is constituted by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in a coordinating role, together with affiliated bodies with a statutory oversight and monitoring mandate, such as the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS); Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID); Office of the Military Ombud; and the Health Ombud.

We stand in solidarity with victims of torture, cruel, inhumane treatment or punishment from the apartheid era. At the same time, we acknowledge that torture continues in the post-apartheid era. The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery, has pointed out that:

There is no denying our brutal past, where torture was regularly used by the state machinery to oppress people, punish or silence them. Sadly, even in our hard-fought democracy, instances of torture still occur.

Instances of torture uncovered by NPM affiliates include brutal deaths in police cells and reports that solitary confinement and prolonged solitary confinement are enforced at Super Maximum and C-Max correctional facilities in South Africa.

Deeply concerning findings on solitary confinement have also been submitted to the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Correctional Services.

The State must prevent torture and other ill-treatment. It is also obliged to provide victims and survivors with effective and prompt redress, compensation and appropriate social, psychological, medical and other forms of rehabilitation. These obligations include the duty to ensure that effective mechanisms are established to monitor and prevent torture and ill-treatment.

Our democracy and constitutional aspirations oblige us all to work tirelessly to hold the State accountable to ensure that torture and other acts of ill-treatment are left in the past. South Africa’s NPM will continue to, act independently, call out acts of torture and ill-treatment and hold the State to account.

The South African NPM will focus on strengthening institutional capacity and effectiveness through cooperation, collaboration and constructive dialogue. Attention to thematic and systemic areas such as solitary confinement, conditions and treatment of groups in situations of vulnerability (including women and LGBTQI+) in police cells, correctional centres, psychiatric institutions and detention centres for undocumented migrants and the state of infrastructure and policies governing places where persons are deprived of liberty. 


Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission on behalf of the South African National Preventive Mechanism.

Wisani Baloyi – Acting Communications Coordinator Tel: 081 016 8308 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Alucia Sekgathume Tel: 082 689 2364 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 




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