Govt urged to fast track torture bill

2011-07-20 13:24
Johannesburg - The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Wednesday urged the justice department to fast track the combating of torture bill to comply with its international obligations and prohibit acts of torture.

"Currently, the act of torture is not a recognised statutory crime in South Africa," said commission spokesperson Vincent Moaga in a statement.

"Torture legislation is needed [so] that the criminal justice system can deal more effectively with acts of torture."

The comments come after the correctional services department and police launched an investigation into the conduct of six warders, accused of shocking a prisoner with an electrified riot shield at the Pretoria Central Prison.

The probe was initiated after a sound recording of what is claimed to be warders shocking a prisoner was smuggled out of prison and aired on Radio 702.

Prisons’ dept doing internal probe

Police spokesperson Wanda Olivier told the broadcaster a case of assault had been opened and that arrests were imminent.

Olivier was not immediately available for comment.

Correctional services spokesperson Phumlani Ximiya said an internal investigation was underway.

The Democratic Alliance condemned the incident, and said it would raise the issue with the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services when next it meets.

"The use of any form of torture is completely unacceptable," said MP James Selfe in a statement.

"It simply brutalises inmates...and makes their reintegration into society more difficult."

He said torture of inmates was likely to evoke violent responses.

"From the information at our disposal, it would seem that this was not an isolated incident...that the practice had been going on for some time, and that a number of people were implicated," he said.

Read more on:    da  |  sahrc  |  human rights  |  prisons
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