Human Rights Committee: Call on South Africa to improve the protection of human rights defenders

27.05.2016

In a joint briefing paper to the UN Human Rights Committee, ISHR, Iranti Org and the Centre for Human Rights urged the Committee to call on South Africa to improve the situation for human rights defenders in the Country. 

In a joint briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee, ISHR, Iranti-Org and the Centre for Human Rights highlight the need for South Africa to improve the situation for human rights defenders in the Country.

The paper demonstrates that Human rights defenders’ rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression are violated. That the rights of defenders working on corporate accountability and transparency issues – who’s work brings them into contact with business interests and who have been signaled as some of the most at risk worldwide in recent years – are restricted. Further, that Defenders working to promote the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex people (LGBTI) suffer discrimination and attacks due to their work to protect LGBTI people and their own sexual orientation and gender identity.

The paper calls on the Human Rights Committee to  consider incorporating the following when drafting their Concluding Observations: 

  • A recommendation that the Government ensure its representatives refrain from imposing restrictions on human rights defenders exercising their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly;   
  • Concern regarding threats, harassment, intimidation and excessive use of force against human rights defenders;  
  • Concern about the particular and significant risks faced by human rights defenders working to protect the rights of LGBTI people and defenders working on corporate accountability and transparency issues; and seek that the State take necessary steps to protect these defenders.

The March review by the Human Rights Committee assessed South Africa’s progress towards compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  In its review, the Human Rights Committee considered the briefing paper by ISHR, Iranti-Org and the Centre for Human Rights, along with other independent civil society organisations, as well as the report of the South African Government.

Following the review, the Committee adopted concluding observations, or recommendations, for the Government of South Africa, including to:

  • Take all measures necessary to protect the rights of human rights defenders to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly;
  • Thoroughly investigate all attacks on the life, physical integrity and dignity of human rights defenders;
  • Redouble efforts to prevent and eradicate discrimination and violence against persons based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or bodily diversity; 
  • Revise laws and policies regarding public order policing and the use of force, and ensure the prompt, thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation of incidents involving allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement officers; and 
  • Implement the recommendations of the Mrikana Commission of Inquiry, and investigate the potential liability of the Lonmin Mining Company for the Marikana incident.

For more information contact Tess McEvoy, ISHR’s Programme Coordinator and Legal Counsel, on t.mcevoy@ishr.ch

 

Category:

Region
  • Africa
Topic
  • Corporate accountability
  • Freedom of expression, association and assembly
  • Human rights defenders
  • LGBT rights
  • United Nations
Mechanism
  • Human Rights Committee (CCPR)
Country
  • South Africa