An assessment of South Africa's obligations under the United Nations Convention against torture
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I attempt to analyze South Africa's legal position pertaining to torture, in relation to the international legal framework. Since it has been established that torture and cruel inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) usually occur in situations where persons are deprived of personal liberty, I examine legislation, policies and practices applicable to specific places of detention, such as correctional centres, police custody, repatriation centers, mental health care facilities and child and youth care centers. I establish that although South Africa has ratified the UNCAT and is a signatory to the OPCAT, our legal system greatly lacks in structure and in mechanisms of enforcement, as far as the absolute prohibition and the prevention of torture and other forms of cruel and degrading treatment or punishment are concerned. I submit that South Africa has a special duty to eradicate torture, since many of its citizens and several of its political leaders are actually victims of torture, who suffered severe ill treatment under the apartheid regime. I argue that the South African legal system is sufficiently capable of adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward torture and to incorporate this with the general stance against crime. In many respects, South Africa is an example to other African countries and should strongly condemn all forms of human rights violations, especially torture, since acts of torture are often perpetrated by public officials who abuse their positions of authority. I conclude by making submissions and recommendations for law reform, in light of the obstacles encountered within a South African context.