UN rights body releases damning report on SA prisons

2016-04-11 19:42
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Durban - The United Nations Human Rights Council's report on South Africa has painted a grim picture of the country's prisons.

The committee on South Africa reported a slew of factors contributing to poor conditions at state detention centres.

"The committee is concerned at poor conditions of detention in some of the state's prisons, particularly with respect to overcrowding, dilapidated infrastructures, unsanitary conditions, inadequate food, lack of exercise, poor ventilation, and limited access to health services," it read.

"The committee notes with concern the conditions of detention in the two super-maximum security prisons and the segregation measures imposed, for instance in Ebongweni super-maximum prison, where prisoners are locked up 23 hours a day for a minimum period of six months."

The committee recommended that the state take drastic steps to reduce overcrowding and ensure that detainees were treated with dignity.

"Ensure that de facto solitary confinement measures, including segregation, are used only in the most exceptional circumstances and for strictly limited periods of a short duration," it said.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said overcrowding and understaffing in prisons remained an issue.

"This is a challenge on ablution facilities, the rising levels of violence among inmates and in ensuring the very objective of rehabilitating inmates, with a view of reintegrating them back into society," Popcru said.

"Various studies indicate that approximately 85% to 94% of prisoners in South Africa re-offend after their release, which means the current system of rehabilitation needs to urgently be redefined.

"Due to very little technical and life skills of the inmates, survival outside of the prison environment becomes very difficult and many tend to re-offend because in their view life is easier in prison."

Read more on:    unhrc  |  prisons

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