Source: The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
Title: SA: Address by Andries Nel, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, during the second report of South Africa at the Palais de Nations, Geneva Switzerland
At the outset I would like to convey on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa our heartfelt condolences to the Government and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria following a plane crash on Sunday night, 3 June 2012, which is reported to have claimed the lives of more than 150 people.
In the words of President Zuma, “We join the government and the people of Nigeria in mourning this tragic loss of life. To the families and friends that lost loved ones, ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time of mourning and sadness.’’
I am deeply honoured once again to address this 13th Session of the Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the Universal Periodic Review.
Chief Albert Luthuli, former President-General of the African National Congress and Nobel Peace Laureate for 1960, said in an address to the South African Congress of Democrats in 1958 – shortly before he was served with banning orders by the Apartheid regime, that, “a man really has only one speech to make. He may clothe it in different words, but in essence it is the same speech. Those of us who are in the freedom struggle in this country have really only one gospel. We may possibly shade it in different ways, but it is a gospel of democracy and freedom.”
We are pleased, therefore, to use these different words and continue propagating the gospel of democracy and freedom as we respond on behalf of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, and thank the President and the Deputy President of this Council, the many states that participated constructively in the Working Group for our UPR as well as the Troika – Cameroon, Maldives and the Czech Republic, and the Secretariat staff.
We also thank the South African Human Rights Commission and other institutions supporting constitutional democracy in our country as well as civil society organisations for their invaluable contributions in the preparatory process to our Review.
We appreciate the many observations and comments made regarding our efforts towards the realisation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the United Nations Bill of Rights. We believe that South Africa’s long walk to freedom can only be fulfilled when we can truly say that indeed we have healed the divisions of the past, freed the potential of all South Africans, and realised the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all our people.
We have listened very carefully to the questions posed as well as the recommendations made and have found the UPR process to be very useful in assisting states to improve their human rights programmes.
Regarding the recommendations, some of which we have already responded to during the interactive dialogue, we wish to assure you that we will carefully evaluate and analyse all of them and provide a detailed response thereto to the 21st Session of the Human Rights Council.
However, it gives me great pleasure, at this stage already, to announce to the Working Group that, on Friday, 1 June 2012 the Minster of Justice and Constitutional Development introduced in the National Assembly the Prevention and Combatting of Torture of Persons Bill to give effect to South Africa’s obligations in terms of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to provide for the offence of torture of persons and other offences associated with the torture of persons, and to prevent and combat the torture of persons within or across the borders of the Republic, and to provide for matters connected therewith.
We are confident that this bill will receive serious and expeditious attention by Parliament.
We thank you for your assistance and cooperation.