May 6, 2011
andreas

We are making progress

SOUTH AFRICA SPECIFIC ITEM:

LETTER/UPDATE FROM

Gail Eddy
Parliamentary Liaison OfficerConsortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa

Tel: 021 465 6317

Cell: 083 501 8761

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Dear colleagues,

I am reporting back from the meeting this week with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development regarding the setting up of a Task Team to combat violence against the LGTBI community.

It was a really successful meeting. The Department stuck to their own timelines and gave us feedback as promised. They have put together a high level national Task Team from the JCPS cluster that has been mandated by the Development Committee of the DoJ (which is responsible for seeing that the Department meets its obligations in line with their service delivery agreements with the Presidency) to investigate and implement measures to deal with the problems raised by the LGTBI community. This Task Team is made up of representatives from the DoJ, NPA, Department of Social Development, SAPS, Legal Aid SA, and some Judiciary members. They have already met twice to come up with the draft implementation plan, and stressed on numerous occasions that this is getting attention at the highest levels as a matter of priority.

The measures they have come up with include:

- The particular needs of the LGTBI community need to be addressed. This will be done through a situational analysis that the DoJ will conduct.

This situational analysis will involve communities at a grass roots level, police, and government departments. This will be made available to all once it has been completed.

- There needs to be public awareness of human rights as set out in Section 9 of the Constitution. The DoJ is already speaking with the GCIS about conducting a widespread public awareness campaign about the rights of LGTBI.

This will include public service announcements, banners, posters, fliers etc.

- The DoJ recognised the need to strengthen the implementation of existing legislation, as well as the need to see what works and what doesn’t. This includes the Criminal Law Amendment Act and the Sexual Offenses Act. They are looking at how sentencing  can be increased due to aggravating circumstances. On a legislative side, they will look at whether any amendments need to be made to legislation. They are also looking at the use of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

- They are looking at the issue of ‘secondary victimisation’ of by police and other service providers, as well as victimisation at a local level.

They are looking at the need for sensitization training which is linked to an awareness campaign to ensure that the message is disseminated widely.

However, they also need a better understanding of what secondary victimisation in this context is, and how it is experienced. Interaction with NGOs will be very helpful here.

- They recognised the need for statistics to record how widespread issues of corrective rape, or violence against the LGTBI community is.

They will start by doing internal research on current cases , and contacting court managers.

- On a short term basis, if their are any cases that people are experiencing problems with, whether it be discrimination by the police, or delayed court cases, they can contact the Director of Child Justice and Family Law: Mrs Corlia Kok on 012 315 1259 or ckok@justice.gov.za.

She has promised to forward these cases to the relevant people for immediate assistance.

- They are also discussing how to record instances of corrective rape at police stations – whether this would ‘out’ individuals and infringe on their privacy? This is something that needs to be discussed further with the NGOs.

- There is also an awareness of LGTBI community been seen as ‘unAfrican’

or ‘against religious beliefs’. A long term strategy will be to talk to traditional leaders and church leaders to address these issues.

- Policy needs to be created as well. The situational analysis will lead to the recommendations on policy for the courts and the justice system as a whole. This will also have to be appropriately budgeted for – and budgets for this will be prioritised.

- They welcome any input with regards to the development of Hate Crimes Legislation.

Gaps in this strategy were pointed out by some NGO representatives that were present. However, the main purpose of the meeting was to create the Task Team that will decide on the approaches to the above strategy, and make the appropriate changes and additions. The Task Team will be made up of 6 members from the JCPS cluster as mentioned above, and 6 members from civil society.

Civil society groups that were at this meeting will meet again on 10th May to confirm the make up of the civil society representation. I advocated for the inclusion of the HCWG, which was accepted, particularly as we are a network with a national focus.

Overall, I am so heartened by this meeting. The DoJ has responded more positively than I ever expected.

Also importantly, I was told that the DoJ welcomes any submissions regarding Hate Crimes legislation. I was told again that they are in the process of developing this. I was given the contact details of the correct person to speak to: Advocate Laurence Bassett, Chief Director:

Legislation Development, 012 315 1463, lbassett@justice.gov.za. From his telephone number it seems as if he is based in Pretoria, so perhaps HCWG members in Joburg/Pretoria could set up a meeting with him? As I said, he will apparently welcome submissions, so this is a great opportunity for us!

Wozani is contacting Adv Bassett to try and find out where the Department is with regards to the Hate Crimes Bill. I’m sure she will report back on this shortly, and the process of engagement can happen from then.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Gail Eddy

Parliamentary Liaison Officer

Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa

Tel: 021 465 6317

Cell: 083 501 8761

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