As the world continues to mount vigilance on government and it’s institutions over unwarranted Human Right abuses, against helpless citizens, more defaulters have been listed by the organisation.
Amnesty International launched its latest annual report‚ titled The State of the World’s Human Rights‚ on Wednesday in Johannesburg. The report reflects on the state of human rights in 159 countries‚ including 10 in Southern Africa.
In an analysis of South Africa’s performance‚ Amnesty International criticised police services following reports of human rights violations.
“Police used excessive force against protesters. Torture‚ including rape‚ and other ill-treatment of people in police custody continued to be reported‚” it stated.
The report counted among such violations the use of rubber bullets during #FeesMustFall protests as well as cases of torture and rapes by police officers‚ reported by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
IPID reported 366 deaths as a result of police action‚ 216 deaths in police custody‚ 145 cases of torture‚ 51 cases of rape and 3 509 cases of assault by officers on duty for 2015/16.
Amnesty International Southern Africa Regional Director Deprose Muchena said the number of deaths recorded as a result of police action was lower than the previous year but still pretty high.
Legal action against accused officers remained slow‚ the report said. Incidents of violence at Durban’s Glebelands Hostel complex was referenced as an example of this. A Public Protector’s report found that police had failed to prevent and investigate crime and protect the hostel’s residents.
Muchena also highlighted an incident at a #FeesMustFall protest in which student leader Shaeera Kalla was shot more than 10 times‚ at close range‚ with rubber bullets. This‚ he said‚ was an example of a failure by authorities throughout the Southern African region to protect human rights‚ opting instead to suppress dissent.
“Politicians have attempted to label people demanding their rights as criminals‚ constantly intimidating‚ harassing and jailing them simply for making legitimate demands for their human rights to be respected.
“Clearly something is wrong when a government refuses to listen to the demands of its people and instead deploys police using excessive force‚” he said.
The report focused on problematic incidents last year‚ but Amnesty International is currently investigating the deployment of over 400 soldiers to Cape Town for the recent opening of Parliament. Opposition MPs were outraged at what was considered a highly unusual move by President Jacob Zuma.
Amnesty International’s spokesperson Netsanet Belay said the preliminary investigation was worrying.
“The police and the government cannot just say it is legitimate. They need to say whether there was a need for that deployment‚ whether it was proportional and whether it actually resulted in discouraging those who wanted to express their views from going out and protesting, for fear of reprisals.”