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Refereed articles

The betrayal of Steve Biko – South Africa’s Initial Report to the UN Committee against Torture and responses from civil society

Lukas Muntingh reveals that South Africa ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) in 1998 and that its Initial Report, which was due a year later, was only submitted in 2005 and assessed by the UN Committee against Torture in November 2006.

The Initial Report was incomplete, deviated from the guidelines and dealt superficially with obligations under CAT. In response to the Initial Report, six civil society organisations made written and oral submissions to the UN Committee against Torture during its 37th Session. This enabled the Committee to obtain a more informed view of steps taken, or not taken, by South Africa to give effect to its obligations under CAT. Many of the concerns raised by the civil society organisations found their way into the Committee’s Concluding Remarks on the Initial Report. The overall impression remains that the South African government has to date not regarded its obligations under CAT as a priority.

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