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Sonke Gender Justice NPC v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others (CCT307/19) [2020] ZACC 26

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Sonke Gender Justice NPC v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others (CCT307/19) [2020] ZACC 26

4th December 2020

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[1] The treatment of incarcerated persons and the conditions in which they are held lie at the heart of this application.  The Bill of Rights grants every detained person the rights to life, dignity, bodily security and conditions of detention that are consistent with human dignity.[2]  Any person who has stepped into one of this country’s correctional centres will know that, in many respects, the treatment of inmates and conditions of detention fall far short of this.  The task of ensuring that these obligations are met lies primarily with the Executive and – in particular – the Department of Correctional Services (Department).  But who guards the guards?  Who ensures that the Department is doing its part in ensuring that incarcerated persons’ constitutional rights are not violated?  The State has entrusted this important task to the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (Judicial Inspectorate), a statutory body tasked with inspecting and monitoring correctional centres in South Africa.  The Judicial Inspectorate is the body that exercises oversight over the Department.[3]  The key question raised in this matter is whether the Judicial Inspectorate has adequate independence to fulfil this oversight role effectively.

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