South Africa: OMCT calls for the effective implementation of the decision of the Human Rights Committee for acts of torture and other forms of ill-treatment
OMCT calls for the effective implementation of the
decision of the Human Rights Committee condemning South Africa for acts of
torture and other forms of ill-treatment
Geneva, 26 November 2012. The Human Rights Committee has established in the case McCallum v.
South Africa that the State party had
violated several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR) by subjecting Mr. McCallum to acts of torture and ill-treatment
at the St. Alban’s Maximum Correctional Facility. The OMCT calls upon the State
of South Africa to effectively implement this decision.
OMCT is concerned about the obstacles for a full
implementation of the Human Rights Committee’s Views on the individual communication
submitted on behalf of Mr. McCallum against South Africa (Communication No.
1818/2008). While detained in St. Alban’s Maximum Correctional Facility of the
Eastern Cape, Mr. McCallum was a victim of acts of torture and ill-treatment inflicted
upon him and other inmates by the prison warders during July 2005. After the assault,
the St. Alban’s Maximum Correctional facility was placed in a lock-down and Mr.
McCallum was denied medical treatment for several months.
On 25 October 2010, the Human Rights Committee concluded
that South Africa has violated the ICCPR article 7 (prohibition of torture and
ill-treatment) alone and read in conjunction with articles 10.1 (humane
treatment of detainees) and 2.3.a (the right to an effective remedy) in the
case McCallum v. South Africa. The Committee
ordered the State party to conduct a thorough and complete investigation and
prosecution of those who are responsible, and to provide the victim with
According to Mr. Egon Oswald, the victim’s counsel, “South
Africa has not undertaken serious efforts to proceed to its implementation and
has had an inactive and reluctant attitude during both the procedure before the
Committee and the implementation of the decision.” A criminal investigation has
been reinstituted and is currently conducted by a single investigator of the
local police station, who is the same person who was unable to fully investigate
the allegations of the detainees when they submitted their complaints in 2005.
Requests to the police for an investigation of the case on a national level by better
resourced, experienced and skilled investigators, as the complexities of the
case require, have been denied.
Equally, Mr. Oswald has started a civil case for
damages on behalf of Mr. McCallum and 230 other alleged victims of torture and
ill-treatment at St. Alban’s Correctional Facility, but the South African
authorities have been reluctant during this procedure by insisting on the
inadmissibility of the case.
OMCT calls upon the South African authorities to fully
engage in the effective implementation of the Human Rights Committee’s Views by
undertaking a prompt, thorough and complete investigation and prosecution those
who are responsible, and by providing Mr. McCallum and the other victims with
full and adequate compensation. OMCT would like to stress the importance of ensuring
the full respect of the fundamental rights enshrined in the ICCPR and other
human rights instruments to which South Africa is a State party as part of its
obligations under international human rights law.
For further information, please contact:
OMCT, +41 (0) 22 809 4939