1. South Africa signed and ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on 9 July 1996. Pursuant to article 62 of the Charter, South Africa presented its initial report1 in 1999 during the 25th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Bujumbura, Burundi.
2. South Africa presented its first periodic report2 in 2005 during the Commission’s 38th Ordinary Session in Banjul, Gambia.
3. The present report is the second periodic report, combining its third, fourth, fifth and sixth reports. It captures developments within South Africa on the realization of the rights guaranteed by the Charter from 2002 to the end of 2013, and responses to the Concluding Observations adopted by the African Commission in December 2005.
4. In preparing this merged report, the views of national institutions on human rights and civil society organisations have been solicited and incorporated where appropriate.
5. It is recognized that this report is overdue. The dawn of our democracy and the advent of a constitutional dispensation have brought with it many demands in terms of re-building our country, establishing new institutions to support democracy and passing new legislation. It also brought about significant international treaty and reporting obligations.
6. South Africa acceded to and/or ratified many basic human rights instruments after the advent of democracy in 1994 and subsequently this resulted in various accompanying obligations to be complied with, such as putting in place laws and administrative measures in order to comply with such instruments and to enable the writing of country reports in particular. This happened at the time when our government was setting up various institutions.
7. While acknowledging the delay in preparing and submitting the current report, Government has committed itself to deal with the backlog of reports under the United Nations Human Rights Charter and Treaty Systems and African Human Rights Systems and has put in place various reporting and monitoring mechanisms. An Inter-departmental Committee has been established to ensure enhanced compliance with treaty and reporting obligations.
8. Because of our history South Africa has a firm commitment towards the protection and promotion of human rights, not only within the country, but also on our continent and the world over. It is of particular importance to South Africa that it plays an active role in the promotion of global human rights. This is confirmed by the central objective of our foreign policy which is aimed at creating a better South Africa in a better Africa and a better and safer world. Our dedication to the promotion of human rights is entrenched in our Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, and informs our commitment to promoting peace, justice, human rights and the rule of law.
9. Government is committed to the advancement of the rule of law in order to ensure the realisation of the rights enshrined in the Constitution. Our courts ensure the nurturing of South Africa’s founding values such as human dignity, equality and supremacy of the Constitution.
10. South Africa has made significant progress in the protection and promotion of civil and political rights as well as economic and social rights over the years since the presentation of our first periodic country report on African Charter.
11. Various legislative, policy and other measures have been implemented to ensure the substantive realisation of civil and political rights as well as socio-economic and cultural rights. In addition, our courts continue to deliver judgments and develop case law to enhance and protect these rights and to provide guidance on the interpretation of these rights.
12. Since the first periodic report, the population of South Africa has increased from 45,8 million in 2002 to 53 million in 20133 and 53,7 million in 2014.4