At long last the Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Bill has been passed in parliament. On Tuesday, 26 June 2012 The Trauma Centre and The South African No Torture Consortium (SANToc) hosted a seminar to commemorate International day of support to survivors of torture. The seminar that was hosted at The River Club conference rooms in Observatory aimed to raise awareness that ‘torture is a crime.’
Since section 12(1)(d) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, provides that everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right not to be tortured in any way. The seminar which was attended by close to a hundred people highlighted that, it is now of utmost importance that we equip ourselves and the community with the knowledge and understanding of this legislation. Survivors of torture must have access to this redress and rehabilitation. Concerns were also raised about the gap which is apparent in the bill. Firstly, the bill does not have the individual rights; and secondly the Bill does not have a victim in mind. The state is usually seen by people as the perpetrator of torture. As a result it raises concerns that no one will be held accountable if the perpetrators of torture are the public officials. Another concern raised was the neglecting of the medical care in favour of monetary compensation which was inadequate.
The seminar concluded by urging the civil society’s active involvement to stand against torture. That the State must also take into consideration things such as medical insurance and therapy for the victims of torture. The bill was also saluted for it stated that any public official who commits torture; attempts to commit torture; or incites, instigates, commands or procures any person to commit torture, is guilty of the offence of torture and is on conviction liable to imprisonment, including imprisonment for life.