It must be regarded as a peculiarity that the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights makes no specific mention of prisoners’ rights and that these rights have to be inferred from overall reading of the Charter, and in particular Articles 4-6. There also does not exist in respect of Africa an instrument such as the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners or the European Prison Rules, which would operationalise normative law in a manner that is appropriate to the African context. This article assesses the relationship between the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the South African prison reform debate with reference, first, to the prevention and eradication of torture and other ill-treatment in South Africa and the Robben Island Guidelines, and secondly, to the right to liberty and the recently announced guidelines from the Commission on police and pre-trial detention.

pdfClick to download full-text artcle pdf