Briefing session with Chapter 9 institutions on South Africa's report to the UN Universal Peer Review Mechanism
11 Jun 2012
On 31 May 2012, South Africa presented its second report to the 13th Session of the United Nations (UN) Universal Peer Review Mechanism Working Group held in Geneva. The Universal Periodic Report is a unique process which involves a review of human rights records of all 192 United Nations Member States on every four years.
South Africa's country report highlighted a consolidation of constitutional democracy, as well as progress made in the realisation of socio-economic and cultural rights such as housing, health and social development as well as civil and political rights enshrined in the Constitution.
South Africa's country report was warmly received with many Member States commending the country for its commitment to human rights and improving the lives of its citizens, the delivery of basic services such as human settlements (housing), health and education as well as South Africa's leading role in the UN Human Rights Council, especially regarding the rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) persons.
Positive achievements were noted by delegations in the following areas, among others:
- Efforts to provide universal health care and steps taken to improve school enrolment rates;
- The provision of ARV treatment for HIV/AIDS and the fight against HIV/AIDS in general;
- The setting up of a national agency on youth development;
- The promotion of regional human rights programmes;
- The promulgation of the law on National Languages;
- The setting up of the Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities.
South Africa's report generated a number of recommendations relating to how to tackle racism and xenophobia, gender based violence, maternal and infant mortality, the ratification of international instruments as well as the Protection of State of Information.
Many states recommended that South Africa continue and intensify existing initiatives.Recommendations included, amongst others:
- Stepping up efforts to prevent and combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, in particular against foreigners;
- enhancing the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes of violence against individuals on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity and to publicly denounce such crimes;
- introducing an awareness campaign on discrimination based on sexual orientation; to ensure law enforcement officials were trained in this regard;
- adopting its Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill;
- ensuring that efforts to eliminate HIV and AIDS-related discrimination will continue;
- maintaining and build on HIV and AIDS prevention and cure and treatment programmes; to develop and implement plans to reduce physical and cost barriers to access HIV-related health services in rural areas;
- ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and its Optional Protocols;
- taking measures to guarantee access to clean drinking water for all;
- ensuring that the new Protection of State Information Bill fully complied with international human rights law so as to ensure the freedom of the press; to engage civil society, activists, NGOs and media to seek common ground on the Bill;
- further strengthening freedom of expression and freedom of the press;
- allocating more financial and other resources to ensure effective implementation of initiatives related to the advancement of women and gender equality;
- adopting and implement appropriate and efficient measures ensuring that all allegations of sexual violence against women and girls were properly registered, prosecuted and their perpetrators were duly convicted;
- adopting a specific law for domestic violence;
- investigating all allegations of sexual exploitation abuse by South African peacekeepers and report the results back to UN peacekeeping officials;
- establishing a mechanism that will offer victims of rape adequate support and provide them with redress;
- stepping up efforts to promulgate a law on human trafficking, in particular the Combating and Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Bill;
- prohibiting and sanction corporal punishment;
- stepping up efforts to fight against child mortality;
- eliminating barriers that impeded birth registration, including for children born from migrants and refugees;
- considering ratifying the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on communication;
- establishing an independent national monitoring mechanism in line with the CRPD; to ensure that basis services were provided for disabled persons in rural areas;
- ratifying the Convention on the rights of migrants and members of their families; to establish policies and programmes designed to promote the integration of migrants into society;
- ratifying ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers;
- ratifying the Convention on enforced disappearances;
- defining torture in national crime legislation, prosecute perpetrators of torture, and ratifying the Optional Protocol against Torture
Today, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development together with the Department of International Relations and Corporation met with representatives from Chapter 9 Institutions to give feedback to the Chapter 9 Institutions on South Africa’s presentation to the Working Group and discussed a way forward.
Government reiterated its support for Chapter 9 Institutions as instruments established with a view to support constitutional democracy and further commended them for their commitment to the promotion of human rights and improving the lives of all citizens and the delivery of basic services.
Government undertakes to give attention to the following key issues:
- Updating progress on the twenty two (22) recommendations received during the first cycle of reporting, where applicable;
- Report to internal monitoring mechanisms of government (various clusters) with a view to reporting on progress; policy structures within government will be expected to take further decisions on the implementation of all the acceptable recommendations. The same structures are also to decide on which of the recommendations generated by the UPR Process are acceptable to South Africa. An indication in this regard will be submitted to the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva during September 2012.
- Chapter 9 institutions to study the recommendations and interact with each other through the Chapter 9 Forum.
- Forums of Directors-General (FOSAD) will continue to monitor South Africa's international obligations through the various clusters, with government departments reporting to such clusters on the relevant international human rights instruments pertaining to their line function responsibilities.
- Regular interaction between government and Chapter 9 institutions.
- Regular interaction between government and civil society.
Joint statement by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of International Relations and Corporation
Issued by: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
11 Jun 2012
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