New Hawks bill inadequate - expert

2012-03-20 21:24

Cape Town - The draft SA Police Service (SAPS) amendment bill does not meet all the requirements of a Constitutional Court judgment in this regard, constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said on Tuesday.

The bill - a response to a Constitutional Court judgment relating to the structure of the Hawks - came under scrutiny at a meeting of government and civil society organisations in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The meeting, hosted by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory, followed the tabling of the bill in Parliament on March 1, the organisations said in a statement.

The Hawks came into being in 2009 following the disbanding of the Scorpions.

The court judgment in March 2011 found that the 2008 SAPS Amendment Act governing the Hawks did not meet the constitutional requirement for an effective and independent body to prevent and expose corruption, and was not protected from political influence or interference.

Parliament was given 18 months to amend the amendment act, which created the Hawks.

The new bill proposes some changes to the legislation and retains the Hawks as an agency of the police.

During Tuesday's meeting, De Vos, of the University of Cape Town, summarised the findings of the Constitutional Court judgment and raised questions about the extent to which they had been addressed in the draft legislation.

He said the amended bill did not meet all the requirements of the judgment.

It did not sufficiently insulate the proposed anti-corruption agency from political influence or interference and did not provide security of employment for the agency's staff and management.

As part of the police, the anti-corruption body proposed in the draft bill would not be perceived by the public as independent.

It would also lack structural or operational independence, or sufficient safeguards to protect individual members from potential influence or interference.

The bill failed to specify the criteria for the appointment of the head of an anti-corruption agency, or the minimum skills and qualifications for the role.

It also did not address the need for the agency to balance political and financial accountability to Parliament with independence from political or other interference, De Vos said.

Parliament's portfolio committee on police is scheduled to hold hearings on the bill from April 23.

Interested and affected parties have until March 27 to make submissions to the committee.

Read more on:    police  |  hawks  |  pierre de vos  |  legislation

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